By Henry van Wagenberg
I suppose this blog is about to take a radical turn. I am going to write about trying to live a life as a Stoic philosopher in our world today.
What does that mean really? How is that different than what this blog was about before?
Although I never really got started on this blog, I originally conceived of it as a place where I would tell other people how they should live.
One problem with this plan (a big one) was that I was unhappy. There is of course an irony in teaching people a way of life - in this case, an ancient version of the philosophical life - that one isn't really successfully practicing.
Isn't it often the case that we get so excited about giving advice to our friends, but we don't live by it ourselves? In the words of Plato, "he who would move the world, must first move himself." And the simple truth is that I hadn't been able to move myself. I will say, though, that I'm getting better at it. And it seems to me that I've been through enough, now, where I can write about the process of becoming a philosopher - and by that I mean (and more on this in a later post) - a free man.
Nassim Taleb, a kind of new Stoic himself, writes about a kind of bullshit test, whereby he never buys stocks that analysts tell him to buy. Rather, he asks them, "what stock are YOU buying?" Taleb suggests we apply the same logic to visiting the doctor. Instead of asking the doctor, "what should I do?," try asking your doctor, "what would YOU do if you had this illness?" There can be quite a difference in the results, both from stock analysts and doctors. We tend to give very different advice to other people than the advice that we follow ourselves.
I would like to apply that same principle and virtue to my writing here. I'm not entirely sure what that will mean, exactly. I will discover it as I go. The point is, I really, truly aspire to practice philosophy in my life. Maybe some of my observations, inventions and discoveries along the way will be in some way useful, helpful, interesting or at least amusing to you, dear reader.| Back