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William Irvine
William B. Irvine is professor of philosophy at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He is the author of several books, including A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. Visit his website at

Entries by William Irvine


(0) Comments | Posted September 22, 2014 | 5:43 AM

In my previous post, I talked about the things we can do to overcome fear. The first step is to figure out what we are afraid of. In doing this research, we might realize that we are afraid of public speaking. We might also find, if we examine...

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Fear and Failure

(1) Comments | Posted September 16, 2014 | 12:48 PM

Fear can be a good thing. A fear of snakes, for example, can prevent you from picking up a rattlesnake and subsequently getting bit.

Fear can also be a bad thing, though, since it can prevent you from doing things that would benefit you and maybe other people as well....

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Call Your Mother!

(0) Comments | Posted September 5, 2014 | 11:25 AM

In a previous post, I presented what I described as the Stoic formula for a happy, meaningful life:

X = the number of days you have left to live

I explained that for most people, most of the time, the value of X is unknown. The important...

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Would You Be Happy in Heaven?

(21) Comments | Posted August 28, 2014 | 2:04 PM

In my previous post, I explained the downside of immortality. If you had infinitely many days to live, each day would have a value of 1/∞. It would, in other words, have a value of 0. Under these circumstances, you would probably end up like Bill Murray in the movie...

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The Stoic Two-Step Program for Better Living

(0) Comments | Posted August 18, 2014 | 12:32 PM

Many blog postings consist of tips on how to improve aspects of your life -- how to avoid procrastinating, perhaps, or how to lose ten pounds. These tips are known as life hacks.

Rather than spending their time thinking about how to improve aspects of their life, the Stoics were...

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Who Are You Avoiding?

(0) Comments | Posted July 14, 2014 | 7:09 AM

Other people give us trouble. They do annoying things. They insult us. They not only make us feel inadequate but in the process of doing so trigger disagreeable feelings of envy within us--not that we will admit as much.

Nevertheless, we seek the company of other people. We do this...

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The Search for Anti-Mentors

(0) Comments | Posted July 7, 2014 | 10:42 AM

In my previous post, I explained what mentors are and how they differ from teachers and coaches. I also said that we 21st century Stoics will be on the lookout for mentors, people who have insights into living. We will observe them, ask questions, and learn what we...

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Teachers, Coaches and Mentors

(0) Comments | Posted June 25, 2014 | 5:09 PM

We have all had teachers, some good and some bad. If we have played sports, we have had coaches. And if we are lucky, we have had mentors. These three groups play important but different roles in our lives.

It is the job of a teacher to transmit information to...

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On Becoming a Connoisseur of Everything

(0) Comments | Posted June 17, 2014 | 1:37 PM

In my previous posting, I distinguished between gourmands, gourmets, and connoisseurs.

Gourmands have allowed themselves to become enslaved by their desire for food. It is a fate that a 21st century Stoic will want to avoid. Gourmets have adopted such high standards that they will be displeased by...

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Gourmand, Gourmet or Connoisseur?

(0) Comments | Posted June 9, 2014 | 1:56 PM

You may need water to live, but ice cubes are a luxury. Indeed, your body will have to melt the ones you consume before they will be of any use to you. But the fact that ice cubes are a luxury has not stopped enterprising businessmen from coming up with...

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Cynics, Stoics and Other People

(0) Comments | Posted June 5, 2014 | 1:32 PM

Medical researchers recently made headlines when they reported that cynics are more likely to develop dementia than non-cynics. In the study, published in the journal Neurology, nearly 1,500 people, whose average age was 71, were asked how much they agree with statements like these: "I think most people...

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Are You a Born Stoic?

(0) Comments | Posted June 1, 2014 | 11:55 AM

In my Guide to the Good Life, I describe what I call congenital Stoics. These are individuals who, on reading my book or reading the works of the ancient Stoics, discover that they are already practicing Stoicism. They just didn't realize it. I myself seem to have been a congenital...

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What Stoicism Isn't

(0) Comments | Posted May 19, 2014 | 5:51 PM

Stoicism has gotten a bad rap. People think of the Stoics as emotionless beings -- as grim, wooden individuals whose goal in life was to stand mutely and take whatever life could throw at them.

As we saw in my previous post, though, this perception is quite mistaken. When we...

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On Becoming a 21st Century Stoic

(0) Comments | Posted May 14, 2014 | 2:52 PM

I am a practicing Stoic. This makes me a cultural outlier. Most Stoics lived two millennia ago, primarily in Greece and Rome, and before I became a Stoic, I had never encountered one in the flesh -- at least not one who was overt in his practice of the philosophy.

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