Professor discusses origins of Stoicism, uses in modern day life

Published by adviser, Author: Daniel DiFabio - News Editor , Date: November 20, 2016

A notable figure of modern Stoicism visited SRU on Friday for two different sessions to discuss his work with students as well as present on how stoicism can be applied to daily life.

Stoicism is a school of philosophy with origins in Ancient Greece, focusing on unbiased and logical thinking rooted in determinism and the belief that one should live by the laws of nature.

Massimo Pigliucci, a professor at the City College of New York, met with students from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Friday to have an author-meets-critics session, where the groups discussed his book ‘Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to a More Meaningful Life.’  He also met with students at 7:30 p.m. to give a presentation on the basics of stoicism and how it is suitable for daily life.

Philosophy professor Andrew Winters said he helped to set the events up, with Pigliucci’s discussions finalizing the “Live like a stoic” activities that have been occurring on campus. Winters said that he wanted to give students an opportunity to talk to a contemporary figure who is contributing to the field. He said that Pigliucci’s visit would assess the extent to which philosophy can contribute to living a meaningful life.

“Stoicism is essentially concerned with understanding how we as humans can better confront the obstacles we face every day,” Winters said.

Pigliucci’s discussion on Friday night was titled “So You Want to be a Stoic, Eh?” Pigliucci covered the origins of Stoicism and aimed to answer the question what is the meaning of life, how to deal with emotions, understanding one’s place in the cosmos and other questions.

Part of Pigliucci’s discussion also dealt with how to practice stoicism, and he said that he meditates every day, which allows him to put his life in perspective and help control the “here and now.”

After the discussion, Pigliucci answered answers from those in the audience, with someone asking if it’s possible to still follow a stoic lifestyle when following other religions. Pigliucci said that it was possible, as one can adapt stoicism ideas to other beliefs.

“One of the reasons I am so attracted to stoicism is because I see it as a big tent,” Pigliucci said, adding that it’s applicable to many lifestyles.


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