I’ve got this whole psychological apparatus I’ve set up where, where you imagine that it’s the stoic gods. So when a setback happens, what’s going on? Well, the stoic gods have decided to challenge me in some way to test me. And then how do I pass the test? – William B. Irvine
William B. Irvine is a professor of philosophy at Wright State University. The author of seven books, including The Stoic Challenge and A Guide to the Good Life, he has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Salon, Time, and the BBC. He lives in Dayton, Ohio
For the context of the show I refer you to his latest, The Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher’s Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer and More Resilient
Philosophy for William is not just an academic career; he actually lives it, having adopted Stoicism many years ago, making him an outlier in the academic community.
In many ways, this ancient school of thought preempted many aspects of modern psychology and it’s practices for dealing with setback.
The Stoics’ realized that even though you have limited control over what setbacks you experience, you can develop considerable control over how you respond to them. The 1st century Stoic Seneca wrote about the differences between experiencing a setback and suffering from it, by changing the perspective of how one thinks of setbacks.
You’ve probably read or heard of some form of this quote attributed to another Stoic, Epictetus…
“We suffer not from the events in our lives but from our judgment about them.”
On this show, we explore that precept, by playing with judgements using thought experiments that I encourage you to try.
How he came to Stoicism
Comparisons with Buddhism
Psychology of a setback
Stoic framing (the test frame, hero frame, target frame)
“The last time” exercise and premature nostalgia
Resetting hedonic standards
The power of perspective
Resources / Links
The Wiki Man Book