October 24th, 2018 2:29 PM
—“CURT: HOW CAN I UNDERSTAND STOICISM?”—
Well there are a number of implied questions in there.
1) Do you mean so that you understand why I say it is superior to religion for the purpose of building mindfulness?
2) Do you want to learn how and why it functions scientifically?
3) Do you want to improve your own view of life (very hard to imagine anyone who follows me has that kind of issue, but maybe)
4) Do you want to solve a problem in your life or others?
So, here is a series that takes you through the ‘Adult Version” from scientific through literary, to statistical.
SCIENTIFIC VIEW “Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy ” This is the closest book to the science of stoicism that I know of: https://www.amazon.com/Philosophy-Cognitive-Behavioural-Therapy-Psychotherapy/dp/1855757567
CURATIVE (NEGATIVE) VIEW “Build Your Resistance” This takes the idea and puts it into practice: https://www.amazon.com/Build-Your-Resilience-Survive-Situation/dp/1444168711/
AMPLYFYING (POSITIVE) VIEW “A Guide to the Good Life” https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/0195374614
BIOGRAPHICAL (EXAMPLE) VIEW: Everyone recommends reading The Meditations of Aurelius as EVIDENCE that a great and powerful man used the practice every day in his diary. The alternative to (or supplement to) reading his book is THINK LIKE A ROMAN EMPEROR: https://www.amazon.com/How-Think-Like-Roman-Emperor/dp/1250196620 which walks you thru the great man’s life and puts context to his writings. For me it was actually The Letters of Michel de Montaigne (a christianized jew) that gave me an intellectual role model. So I recommend that as well.
POLITICAL VIEW: Same for Machiavelli’s “The Prince” which i consider the first book on political science precisely because it is a work of stoic mindfulness.
STATISTICAL VIEW: While it isn’t positioned this way, both BLACK SWAN (Unpredictable Outliers are Far More Important Than Daily Noise) and ANTI-FRAGILE (“That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and stronger, and stronger”) are effectively works on Stoicism for smart people.
==== COMMENTARY ===
So, if you’re a high-iq aspie you’re a stoic by nature. Why? Um. We don’t have all those social fears because we frankly can’t feel any of them. lol. And we kind of think they’re silly. However, we are often ‘ostracized’ when young and have to find out how to fit in. So we have the opposite problem. My family – at least on my mother’s side (french) is just naturally stoic. So my interest in stoicism is political, and because of that scientific.
So, I can recommend books to normies, but for geeks who need the scientific approach (who are naturally predisposed to resist suggestion) it’s actually pretty hard find a book to recommend – because most stoic reading is framed as self help.
Stoicism isn’t framed as “Hey, between stoicism and nature, hero, deity worship (‘thanks’), and public ritual and festival (safety in the pack or herd), this set of practices was the collective constitution of our ancient religion”. It’s just that we didn’t IMPOSE that religion as did the monotheists, and didn’t write it down as a LAW. Same for our entire philosophy of western civilization (which is what I have tried to do.)
We didn’t say: “Military service, particularly in formations, requires you develop stoicism in order to survive and thrive under the stresses of it all”. So between the necessity of military mindfulness, and the utility of applying that mindfulness to the even more chaotic social order our aristocratic ancestors converted the techniques into a standard method of education. They didn’t call it religion but philosophy.
So there are people who want self-help so that they can self author (Develop Mindfulness). And there are people who want to understand WHY self help (self authoring) serves the function of rational self training vs the rituals and myths of the supernatural in GROUP form.
Stoicism consists of cognitive behavioral therapy in the negative sense, and simply education and training in the positive sense. I consider it ‘self authoring’. but that is because it is taught as an individual discipline rather than a ‘we’ as is religion. I find stoicism to be reducible to ‘don/t’ take it personally, Do your best, Tell the Truth. Keep your word’. The problem is that there are bigger human questions that we need mental defense against. Some people need a guide. Some people are self guided. Some people need to follow the herd as their guide. one way or the other CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) to discipline the mind (Train) works.