Read: May 2022

Inspiration: What is Stoicism?


Written with the help of ChatGPT, below is a brief summary to understand what is covered in the book.

“Lives of the Stoics”, published in 2020 by author and philosopher Ryan Holiday, tells the stories of some of the most famous Stoic philosophers, including Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius. The Stoic philosophy teaches that people should focus on what they can control and not worry about things beyond their control. The book discusses how these philosophers lived their lives in accordance with these principles, and how their teachings can be applied to modern life. Holiday also explores how the Stoic philosophy influenced other great thinkers, such as Abraham Lincoln and Frederic Nietzsche. The book ultimately argues that the Stoic philosophy can provide a guide for living a fulfilling and meaningful life, even in the face of adversity.

Unedited Notes

Direct from my original book log, below are my unedited notes (abbreviations and misspellings included) to show how I take notes as I read.

Stoicism originate with Zeno, stoicism lowercase usually meant as emotionless but Stoicism philosophy is not so—it is about emotion and belief, courage temperance justice widsom are 4 tenets of Stoicism—Zeno credited for “2 ears, 1 mouth” expression, Aristo was main challenger to Stoic thought—opposed notion of rules, focus on action to reach virtue, indifferent towards all—key is to act/train to virtue (not read rulebooks/precepts), cleanthes lead Stoic as apostle of Zeno, then Chrysippus act as 3rd leader—focus on logic and proofs to cement Stoic ideas in society (merit), Stoics enjoy without needing and have without wanting, stoics believe history moves in cycles, match right virtue to right moment (can be humility, courage, calm, stability, etc), Diogenes sent from Athens to Rome on diplomatic mission—philosopher sent to mediate war (carry Stoa thought with him), Diogenes bring Stoicism to real world for common good/nation, Stoic goal is virtue but not indifferent to all (recognize wealth makes life easier), Antipater bring practical ethics to Stoicism—reduce absolutism (bring Stoic to private life as Diogenes did to public life), daily decisions guided by Stoicism, Antipater value interconnections of all (don’t be so self-interested to forget this), “what is bad for the hive is bad for the bee”—Marcus Aurelius based on Antipater, Panaetius explain how to live virtuously in real world—no matter class must balance role as human, family member, person who made committments, duties in job, Scipionic Circle was Pana+Scipio+others in Rome who bring Stoicism to leadership and center of empire—made it practical but Panaetius also believe virtue not self sufficient (need health, resources, strength), Publius Rutilius Rufus The Last Honest Man—address Rome corruption, part of Scipionic Circle, acute and systematic, Rutilius follow Stoic oikeiosis (pursuit of common good)—pushed for laws of bankruptcy and corruption that hurt rich, Stoicism about excellence in areas you can control—thoughts, actions, choices (not about external rewards), Stoics feel no need to win arguments (particularly through slander)—fight fire with fire and burn self and no one remembers who started it, cato the younger embodied the focus on virtue with indifference towards all superficial elements, Augustus Caesar taught to recite alphabet before acting when angry, Seneca the Striver is one of most read Stoics—wrote about human struggle for tranquility, meaning, happiness, wisdom, Seneca viewed life in the moment—death is not singular moment in future, everyday that passes is lost to death, Nero ruled as a murderer to keep power—eventually came back to him (symbol of excess, delusion, evil), “most potent poison ever known rests in a Caesar’s laurel crown, Musonius exemplify that adversity can make you better if you so choose, dishonorable deeds done with pleasure—pleasure passes but dishonor remains, Stoics believe you choose how to respond to life events, Epictetus describe “chief task in life” as understanding what is up to us and what is not (understand external out of our control), Epictetus: every situation has 2 handles, up to us which we grab—our opinions determine the reality we experience, if someone succeeds in provoking you then your mind is complicit in the provocation, take pause to react and reframe, Epictetus enslaved til 30 but embrace character role for best and live on to be hugely influential philosopher, Justin Martyr put to death for being christian philosopher at odds with roman Stoics but not give in to Rusticus who was judge/Stoic, Marcus Aurelius The Philosopher King—intro to Stoic by Rusticus and rare kind ruler (focus on character and being a good person), Marcus Aurelius recognize how naked we all are when faced with fate (plague) regardless of power (all humans), Marcus was imperfect ruler (why so admired, not let job get to him), accept life without arrogance and let go with indifference, Marcus carry self with grace—recognize what is out of control, admire others’ strengths/qualities, be strict with self and tolerant with others, Stoicism is about training, stretching to be better and improve (progress through action), Epictetus “it is not things that upset us, it’s our judgment about things”

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Welcome to JeffReads, where I share summaries of the best books I’ve read on business, politics, science, technology and more.




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