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Modern Stoicism

Modern Stoicism has been shaped by numerous scholars, authors, and thinkers who have revived and adapted its principles to contemporary contexts. Here, we explore the contributions of several key modern figures, each of whom has played a significant role in making Stoic philosophy accessible and relevant to today's world.

Justus Lipsius (1547–1606)

Life and Contributions: Justus Lipsius was a Flemish philologist and humanist during the Renaissance. Born in Overijse, near Brussels, Lipsius studied at the University of Leuven and became a leading intellectual figure in Europe. His scholarly work focused on classical texts, and he is best known for his efforts to revive Stoicism in a time of religious and political upheaval.

Notable Works:

"De Constantia" (1584): This influential dialogue presents Stoicism as a practical philosophy for achieving mental resilience amidst external chaos. Lipsius' emphasis on inner strength and constancy made Stoicism appealing during the turbulent times of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation.

Pierre Hadot (1922–2010)

Life and Contributions: Pierre Hadot was a French philosopher and historian of philosophy. His academic career included positions at the École Pratique des Hautes Études and the Collège de France. Hadot is renowned for his interpretation of ancient philosophy as a way of life, particularly Stoicism.

Notable Works:

"Philosophy as a Way of Life" (1995): This book explores how ancient philosophers, including Stoics, practiced philosophy as a means to transform their way of living.

"The Inner Citadel" (1998): Hadot provides an in-depth analysis of Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations," highlighting its practical and existential aspects.

Ryan Holiday (1987–)

Life and Contributions: Ryan Holiday is an American author, marketer, and entrepreneur. He has significantly popularised Stoic philosophy through his accessible and practical writing. Holiday's books have reached a wide audience, making Stoic principles relevant to modern readers.

Notable Works:

"The Obstacle Is the Way" (2014): This book applies Stoic ideas to modern challenges, showing how adversity can be transformed into advantage.

"The Daily Stoic" (2016): Co-authored with Stephen Hanselman, this book offers daily Stoic meditations for personal growth and reflection.

Massimo Pigliucci (1964–)

Life and Contributions: Massimo Pigliucci is an Italian-American philosopher and biologist. He has been instrumental in the modern Stoic movement, promoting Stoicism as a practical philosophy for everyday life. Pigliucci is a professor of philosophy at the City College of New York.

Notable Works:

"How to Be a Stoic" (2017): In this book, Pigliucci explores Stoic philosophy through the lens of personal experiences and historical texts, offering guidance on how to apply Stoic principles to contemporary life.

"A Handbook for New Stoics" (2019): Co-authored with Gregory Lopez, this book provides a structured approach to practicing Stoicism through daily exercises and reflections.

Donald Robertson (1972–)

Life and Contributions: Donald Robertson is a cognitive behavioural psychotherapist and author who specialises in the application of Stoic philosophy to modern psychotherapy. His work bridges the gap between ancient Stoic teachings and contemporary psychological practices.

Notable Works:

"Stoicism and the Art of Happiness" (2013): This book combines Stoic philosophy with cognitive-behavioural techniques to promote well-being and emotional resilience.

"The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) : Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy" (2019): Robertson demonstrates how techniques and concepts from Socratic philosophy, especially Stoicism, can be integrated into the practise of CBT and other forms of psychotherapy.

"How to Think Like a Roman Emperor" (2019): Robertson explores the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, offering practical advice on applying Stoic principles to modern challenges.

Sharon Lebell

Life and Contributions: Sharon Lebell is an author and musician who has made significant contributions to the popularization of Stoic philosophy, particularly through her accessible translations and interpretations of ancient texts.

Notable Works:

"The Art of Living" (1995): This modern interpretation of Epictetus' teachings provides practical wisdom on living a virtuous and fulfilling life, making Stoic principles accessible to a broad audience.

William B. Irvine (1952–)

Life and Contributions: William B. Irvine is a professor of philosophy at Wright State University. He has written extensively on Stoicism, focusing on how its principles can enhance modern living and personal happiness.

Notable Works:

"A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" (2008): Irvine's book offers a comprehensive introduction to Stoic philosophy and its practical applications, aiming to help readers achieve a more fulfilling life.

"The Stoic Challenge" (2019): This book presents Stoic strategies for overcoming life's obstacles and turning setbacks into opportunities for growth.

From the scholarly revival efforts of Justus Lipsius in the Renaissance to the practical guidance offered by contemporary authors like Ryan Holiday and Massimo Pigliucci, the key modern figures in Stoicism have played crucial roles in keeping this ancient philosophy alive and relevant. Their works have made Stoic principles accessible to a wide audience, demonstrating the enduring value of Stoicism in addressing the challenges of modern life. Through their contributions, Stoicism continues to inspire and guide individuals in their pursuit of wisdom, virtue, and inner peace.

Stoicism Recommended Reading

Stoicism Reading List

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Ponsonby Clinical Psychology Practice Address

Clinical Psychologist, Ponsonby, Auckland

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