42 minutes | May 7th 2020

EP.38: HOW STOICS KEEP CALM: WILLIAM B. IRVINE ON PHILOSOPHICAL FRAMING

William B. Irvine is a professor of philosophy at Wright State University. The author of seven books, including The Stoic Challenge and A Guide to the Good Life, he has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Salon, Time, and the BBC. He lives in Dayton, Ohio

For the context of the show I refer you to his latest,  The Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher’s Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer and More Resilient 

Philosophy for William is not just an academic career; he actually lives it, having adopted Stoicism many years ago, making him an outlier in the academic community.

In many ways, this ancient school of thought preempted many aspects of modern psychology and how to use some of its tenants to deal with setbacks. 

The Stoics’ realized that even though you have limited control over what setbacks you experience, you can develop considerable control over how you respond to them. One of the 1st century Stoics Seneca wrote about the differences between experiencing a setback and suffering from it, by changing the perspective of how one thinks of setbacks. 

You’ve probably read or heard of some form of this quote attributed to another Stoic, Epictetus 

“We suffer not from the events in our lives but from our judgment about them.” On this show, we explore that precept - with some helpful thought experiments that I encourage you to try 

Topics covered 

  • How he came to Stoicism
  • Comparisons with Buddhism
  • Psychology of a setback  
  • Stoic framing (the test frame, hero frame, target frame) 
  • Negative visualization 
  • “The last time” exercise and premature nostalgia 
  • Resetting hedonic standards
  • The power of perspective 

Enjoy! 

For show notes and more see larryweeks.com