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Modernized Stoicism Critiqued

In this episode of New Ideal Live, Aaron Smith, Dan Schwartz, and Tristan de Liège discuss Stoic Wisdom: Ancient Lessons for Modern Resilience, a recent book by Nancy Sherman that promotes the philosophy of Stoicism while arguing that a healthy modern Stoicism requires important changes. They discuss major themes of Sherman’s book and how we should evaluate her perspective on Stoic philosophy.

Among the topics covered:

  • A brief overview of Stoic philosophy and its history;
  • The Stoic view that emotions are products of our judgments and hence can be harmonized with reason;
  • The Stoic view that emotions like desire, fear, anger, and distress are inherently irrational;
  • What this view of emotions and Sherman’s modified version of it get wrong;
  • Sherman’s take on the Stoic practice of “pre-rehearsing” the loss of one’s values;
  • The metaphysical perspectives behind Stoicism’s emphasis on adversity versus Objectivism’s emphasis on achieving values;
  • How contemporary interest in Stoicism relates to the widespread acceptance of the morality of altruism.

Mentioned in this podcast are Smith’s article “The False Promise of Stoicism,” Ayn Rand’s essays “Causality Versus Duty” and “The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made” from her book Philosophy: Who Needs It, and the Ayn Rand Lexicon entry on “Emotions.”

The podcast was recorded on August 31, 2022. Listen to the discussion below. Listen and subscribe from your mobile device on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, Spotify or Stitcher. Watch archived podcasts here.

Podcast audio:


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Sam Weaver

Sam Weaver, BA in English, is an associate fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute and a recipient of the Conceptual Education Fellowship.

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