Does the Stoic philosophy hold promise for the 21st century (r)evolutionary?
A philosophical this week that begins with a few words from Ivan Illich
on the importance of grasping the unique 'here-ness' and 'now-ness' of our encounters and so appreciating them. Firstly thanks to David Pierce, whose recommendation of our main interview set the tone for the show. This is a half hour from a longer interview with Professor William Irvine
on the philosophy of the Greek Stoics (not actually 'stoicism' in the modern sense, indeed, says Invine, it's likely that everything you know about soticism is wrong!) Author of "A Guide To The Good Life, The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy", Irvine describes himself as a practicing stoic. A lot of people who haven't made much of a conscious choice tend to pursue what he refers to as 'enlightened hedonism', the drive to seek pleasure and avoid pain, which he says makes them easy pray for advertisers and often leads to unfulfilled lives.
|I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden
We intersperse highlights of the first 2 chapters of Walden
with a range of material to offer more contemporary perspectives on the same broad topics: two questions from Suelo
's FAQ, another new section from Chapter 10 of John Taylor Gatto
's Underground History of American Education
and some minutes of Ivan Illich
on joyful renunciation, concluding with a musical exhortation from the Monty Python
Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life by Monty Python.Thanks to Against The Grain for the William Irvin interview and to Dave Pierce for pointing me to it. Thanks to Gordon McKenzie of Librivox for reading the Henry David Thoreau. ★ Start a Discussion about this episode