web site hit counter The Practicing Stoic: A Philosophical User's Manual - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Practicing Stoic: A Philosophical User's Manual

Availability: Ready to download

The great insights of the Stoics are spread over a wide range of ancient sources. This book brings them all together for the first time. It systematically presents what the various Stoic philosophers said on every important topic, accompanied by an eloquent commentary that is clear and concise. The result is a set of philosophy lessons for everyone - the most valuable wisd The great insights of the Stoics are spread over a wide range of ancient sources. This book brings them all together for the first time. It systematically presents what the various Stoic philosophers said on every important topic, accompanied by an eloquent commentary that is clear and concise. The result is a set of philosophy lessons for everyone - the most valuable wisdom of ages past made available for our times, and for all time.


Compare

The great insights of the Stoics are spread over a wide range of ancient sources. This book brings them all together for the first time. It systematically presents what the various Stoic philosophers said on every important topic, accompanied by an eloquent commentary that is clear and concise. The result is a set of philosophy lessons for everyone - the most valuable wisd The great insights of the Stoics are spread over a wide range of ancient sources. This book brings them all together for the first time. It systematically presents what the various Stoic philosophers said on every important topic, accompanied by an eloquent commentary that is clear and concise. The result is a set of philosophy lessons for everyone - the most valuable wisdom of ages past made available for our times, and for all time.

30 review for The Practicing Stoic: A Philosophical User's Manual

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen Rubin

    I love reading great works like those of Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Cicero, and others, and have always been interested in the thinking of the Stoics. This book lays out the history and philosophy of the Stoics in an absolutely clear and accessible way, without dumbing down the complexity. The body of work is presented in a systematic, thoughtful framework that is rarely seen in this kind of book. I found the answers to questions that I didn't know I had. I'd read much of this material I love reading great works like those of Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Cicero, and others, and have always been interested in the thinking of the Stoics. This book lays out the history and philosophy of the Stoics in an absolutely clear and accessible way, without dumbing down the complexity. The body of work is presented in a systematic, thoughtful framework that is rarely seen in this kind of book. I found the answers to questions that I didn't know I had. I'd read much of this material before, in the works by the individual authors, but seeing this synthesis gave me new insight and understanding.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Taka

    Excellent-- This, too, was a windfall for me. I was browsing through the labyrinthine bookshelves at Powell's in Portland this past April and noticed this. (There really is something about being able to browse books physically at a bookstore—it allows for more immediate connection/recognition, for fortuitous discoveries.) Unlike other books on Stoicism, this basically collects and organizes the original sources (translated, of course) by theme, in a roughly progressive manner to aid learning. So Excellent-- This, too, was a windfall for me. I was browsing through the labyrinthine bookshelves at Powell's in Portland this past April and noticed this. (There really is something about being able to browse books physically at a bookstore—it allows for more immediate connection/recognition, for fortuitous discoveries.) Unlike other books on Stoicism, this basically collects and organizes the original sources (translated, of course) by theme, in a roughly progressive manner to aid learning. So most of the book consists of quotes from Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and others (Cicero, Adam Smith, Montaigne, Johnson, and other "descendants" of the philosophy), with succinct and superbly helpful comments by the author to provide context and explain the principles involved. Probably because I read this in tandem with Van Norden's Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy and having immersed myself in the practice of Buddhism (both Theravada and Zen), I was able to see SO MANY similarities among three wildly different ancients philosophies. I was especially amazed by how similar Buddhist tenets are to Stoicism—basically, Stoicism plus meditative practice (not the ruminating meditation of Marcus Aurelius, but the "focus your attention on your breathing" type of meditation) would pretty much equal Buddhism (at least as taught by Goenka or Stephen Batchelor): clinging to externals as the source of suffering/misery, the role of one's own judgment in creating that very misery, the importance of detachment, perspective of impermanence, the effort to see reality as it is, the encouragement for compassion and "public life" (which can include just helping others), etc. The remarkable coincidences among the three philosophies—and here, I'm counting "classical Chinese philosophy" as one, but really I have in mind Confucius/Mengzi and Taoism as expounded by Daodejing and Zhuangzi that don't exactly map onto Stoicism and Buddhism, but nonetheless share some really interesting similarities—suggests to me something of philosophical convergence, which might in turn suggest something like truth, or at least a method or pragmatic philosophy that works to help allay human suffering. Forget about why it works, the theory of it—if a philosophy works, it works. Who cares why? So. On the whole, highly, highly recommended, and I'll be reading up on Stoicism for sure.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tim O'Neill

    As someone who has been reading the works of the Stoics for many years, the premise of this "manual" struck me as very useful. The book is arranged into topic-based chapters - "Perspective", "Desire", "Adversity", "Death" etc. - with selections of Stoic writers on those subjects arranged with commentary and context. This makes the book something that can be usefully read straight through, as I have just done, but I know it will be one that I will go back to and consult periodically as those topi As someone who has been reading the works of the Stoics for many years, the premise of this "manual" struck me as very useful. The book is arranged into topic-based chapters - "Perspective", "Desire", "Adversity", "Death" etc. - with selections of Stoic writers on those subjects arranged with commentary and context. This makes the book something that can be usefully read straight through, as I have just done, but I know it will be one that I will go back to and consult periodically as those topics arise in my life. And this works with the essence of Stoicism, which is not a set of dogmas or primarily a metaphysical system, but a way to (try to) live your life. It fits with the ancient Greek conception of philosophy not as an epistemology, but as a way to strive for εὐδαιμονία - a good life, or flourishing life, literally "good spirit". I read Farnsworth's manual while using Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman's The Daily Stoic Journal: 366 Days of Writing and Reflection on the Art of Living and the two complemented each other well. The practicality of Stoicism, with its exercises, daily meditations and a sense of a system that you strive to use even if you never fully master, is a strong element in Farnsworth's commentary. The final chapter, "Stoicism and Its Critics", was a good way to end the book. Again, it shows that Stocism is not dogmatic and is and should be open to criticism both from within and from outside. I recently came across someone I follow and admire on Twitter making some rather disparaging comments about the modern resurgence of Stoicism, dismissing Stoicism as a philosophy for "a morally complacent individual". This struck me as a rather bizarre description - there are many ways you could describe the Stoics, but "morally complacent" would not be one of them. When questioned, it turned out he was basing his conception of Stoicism on the fact that it has become fashionable lately and popular with what he called "Davos types". Why it has become popular with that sort I have no idea - I imagine last year they were embracing the Danish concept of "hygge and next year it will be something else. But that doesn't really tell us much about Stoicism (any more than its inexplicable adoption by Madonna tells us much about Kabbala), given that it's not just "Davos types" who have an interest in Stocism. A little more digging and I found his disdain was based on some dubious Roman gossip about Seneca's business dealings and an idea that he, as a rich man who was also a Stoic, was a hypocrite or someone who used his philosophy to justify his wealth. Farnsworth shows that Seneca and the other Stoic's attitude to wealth was rather more complex than that and, when actually understood, undermines this criticism completely. To the Stoics wealth is neither intrinsically good or bad and whether you have it (as Seneca and Marcus Aurelius did) or don't (like Epictetus), the issue is more how you regard it and what you do with it and why. This criticism of Stoicism via Seneca and some rather petty Flavian damnatio memoriae (he was an adviser to the most hated member of the previous dynasty after all) goes back to Macaulay writing on Francis Bacon in 1837 and since his disparaging remarks are about all many nineteenth century gentlemen ever read of Seneca, the mud seems to have stuck. Farnsworth goes a long way toward correcting Macaulay's sniffy dismissals. This is a good book both for those looking for a good introduction to the Stoics and for those who would like a useful guide to a useful and challenging philosophical system. I know I'll now go back to my daily reading of Marcus Aurelius with a much clearer understanding of the Stoic system of thought.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Boissonneault

    Of the many available books on Stoicism, three things make Farnsworth’s The Practicing Stoic stand out: 1. The Stoics largely speak for themselves; the book is organized around topics and most of the content comes from the original sources. So, for example, the chapter on “judgment” presents, with commentary, the original writings of Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius—the big three late Stoics—on that topic. This way, you can compare and contrast each authors thoughts on the same topic, which Of the many available books on Stoicism, three things make Farnsworth’s The Practicing Stoic stand out: 1. The Stoics largely speak for themselves; the book is organized around topics and most of the content comes from the original sources. So, for example, the chapter on “judgment” presents, with commentary, the original writings of Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius—the big three late Stoics—on that topic. This way, you can compare and contrast each authors thoughts on the same topic, which is very interesting and useful. It’s easier to digest this way rather than reading the collected works of each author separately. 2. In addition to the original writings of the Stoics, the original writings of other prominent supporting authors are included, including Adam Smith, Plutarch, Samuel Johnson, Arthur Schopenhauer, and more. While these authors are not Stoics themselves, the examples provided demonstrate stoic influence. 3. The content is organized by topic in twelve chapters, covering judgment, externals, perspective, death, wealth and pleasure, what others think, valuation, emotion, adversity, virtue, and learning. There is also a final chapter responding to the criticism of Stoicism. The organization of content in this way is easier to assimilate and refer back to, especially considering the Stoics wrote in a rather disorganized way. In all, this is one of the best books on the practice of Stoicism I’ve come across. As the author states himself, if you’re looking for an in-depth theoretical examination of the philosophy of Stoicism, you’ll have to look elsewhere. This book is really for those who want a practical guide to living by stoic principles and appreciate learning the material primarily from the original sources, without having to read through each source separately and organize the material manually.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tavan T.

    One of the most in-depth explications of Stoicism that I’ve encountered.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Laurent Franckx

    This is the best modern treatment of stoicism for a general public that I have read since Irvine's "A guide to the good life". Both books have a lot in common. Neither of them elaborates on the metaphysics of stoicism. They emphasize the ethics and the psychology of stoicism, and how this is relevant for modern man. They also deal with the same criticisms of stoicism, such as its supposed lack of compassion and its alleged hypocrisy. They also explain that stoicism, instead of being a killjoy ph This is the best modern treatment of stoicism for a general public that I have read since Irvine's "A guide to the good life". Both books have a lot in common. Neither of them elaborates on the metaphysics of stoicism. They emphasize the ethics and the psychology of stoicism, and how this is relevant for modern man. They also deal with the same criticisms of stoicism, such as its supposed lack of compassion and its alleged hypocrisy. They also explain that stoicism, instead of being a killjoy philosophy, is actually a way to reach a deeper level of happiness, that is not dependent on the varying fortunes of external circumstances. The main difference lies in the approach. Farnsworth builds his book in chapters that each deal with a specific theme, and then reaches back to the original authors. His personal contribution lies then in "translating" those thoughts in insights that are relevant for modern man.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jim Cullison

    This book is so outstanding and enlightening that it must be read at least twice. The first time you'll underline and highlight the deep veins of wisdom and insight in nearly every paragraph, and the second time you'll revisit everything you dogeared and annotated the first time. An intellectual analgesic for this age of chronic psychic inflammation.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    This book is a synthesis of the writing of Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. Each chapter covers a topic, such as "Judgement" or "Learning", in which Farnsworth guides the reader through subtopics with the three's works quoted with comment and context. It could be a handy pocket reference in time of need, or introduction to the original text of the ancient stoic. Sadly, what the book didn't achieve is breathing new life into Stoic teaching by situating them in the many new experiences broug This book is a synthesis of the writing of Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. Each chapter covers a topic, such as "Judgement" or "Learning", in which Farnsworth guides the reader through subtopics with the three's works quoted with comment and context. It could be a handy pocket reference in time of need, or introduction to the original text of the ancient stoic. Sadly, what the book didn't achieve is breathing new life into Stoic teaching by situating them in the many new experiences brought by modern life and technology. Although book title contains the words "User's manual", which gives the impression of practicality and techniques, reading through it still feels detached from practicality from time to time. This is mainly due to Farnsworth quoting the ancient authors consistently, without offering much of a modern perspective. It would also be interesting to speculate what Seneca would have to say to technology and social media? How does one achieve eudaimonia in the age of algorithm? But of course, Stoic believes certain human experiences are timeless. It is also unfair to blame this book for not doing enough - after all, its goal is not to fit the old teaching with new observation, but simply present the original Stoicism text. Personally, I would think of A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine to be a better introduction to Stoicism in the modern age. Originally Posted Here: https://www.buemlned.me/2019/review-f...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marcel

    Five stars are not enough to rate this book. Here‘s an additional one: ⭐️

  10. 5 out of 5

    مُهنا

    A philosophy that sounds very appealing to me as an introvert but does not resonate with me on many values. The most basic ideal of stoicism from my understanding is reason before emotion. Which is a good ideal but some of the examples given by the author to support it weren’t the very best and I would understand it if people misunderstood it as being robotic instead of human. Stoicism pushes people to not be materialistic and to be accepting of whatever their situation in life is. On face value A philosophy that sounds very appealing to me as an introvert but does not resonate with me on many values. The most basic ideal of stoicism from my understanding is reason before emotion. Which is a good ideal but some of the examples given by the author to support it weren’t the very best and I would understand it if people misunderstood it as being robotic instead of human. Stoicism pushes people to not be materialistic and to be accepting of whatever their situation in life is. On face value that is acceptable, however, it seems to me that this means that people should lack ambition and to be satisfied with whatever life hands them. But in fairness, I might have misunderstood this point. The list of points that I fully agree with or slightly agree with or completely disagree with is long, so my only advice is to read a little about stoicism, I believe everyone can learn a little something from it that will benefit them.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vincent Li

    Great book to read through and keep as reference for good and bad times in life. The title is a good description of the goal of the book, which is to provide practical advice on living. As a result, the focus is on Stoic ethics. The author does a great job of presenting the best version of Stoicism, discussing Stoic ideas with their own words, the author's learned commentary and putting Stoics in conversation and debate. The ideas are helpfully organized into topics, and while most of the Stoics Great book to read through and keep as reference for good and bad times in life. The title is a good description of the goal of the book, which is to provide practical advice on living. As a result, the focus is on Stoic ethics. The author does a great job of presenting the best version of Stoicism, discussing Stoic ideas with their own words, the author's learned commentary and putting Stoics in conversation and debate. The ideas are helpfully organized into topics, and while most of the Stoics quoted are Romans, the book also cites more modern students of the Stoics from Montaigne to Samuel Johnson. The author does a good job defending Stoics against criticism. Stoics are not heartless but experienced, hoping to teach through reasoning instead of experience how to best handle the vicissitudes of life. Stoics that were wealthy (Seneca in particular) are not hypocrites but recognize wealth as an indifferent, it was fine to prefer an indifferent as long as one does not attach too much weight to it. The Stoics were also the first to admit that they were not prefect and much of their advice is aspirational. The gist of Stoicism is the liberating idea that while there are many things that we do not control, we control the most important things, how we react to those things that we do not control. By not inducing too much self-anguish over the things external to us, but by controlling our judgements to those externals, we free ourselves. It's ultimately an empowering philosophy and a gentle one. We often think that bad things happen, and then we are injured by bad things. But the Stoic insight was to decompose this process to three steps instead of two. A thing happens, we judge it be bad, and then we are hurt by that judgement. The other sight is that often our judgements are skewed by social convention or irrationalities. We do not value the things we have until we lose them. We crave fame from the crowd while despising the masses. We flash to anger when we are insulted. We project our insecurities onto others. Much of Stoicism is about realizing how skewed and irrational these judgements are. The book is broken into helpful sections on essentially Stoics teachings on correcting these judgements. Stoics use a variety of tactics to get us to see it from a different view, from citing the customs of unfamiliar cultures, or the view of children. But Stoicism is not nihilistic or relativist. To the Stoics, what matters is living life with virtue. Clearing our eyes simply allows us to do that better. This book is an excellent start and a good source to return to.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Graychin

    Ward Farnsworth announced himself to the general reading public in 2010 with the release of Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric. It was a bold move, that title (I’m reminded of the Incomparable Max’s first book, published at age twenty-four, which he christened The Works of Max Beerbohm). But it’s a very fine book and I’ve been educating myself with it a bit at a time for the past year or so. Likewise, I’ve been working through his equally delightful follow-up, Farnsworth’s Classical English Ward Farnsworth announced himself to the general reading public in 2010 with the release of Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric. It was a bold move, that title (I’m reminded of the Incomparable Max’s first book, published at age twenty-four, which he christened The Works of Max Beerbohm). But it’s a very fine book and I’ve been educating myself with it a bit at a time for the past year or so. Likewise, I’ve been working through his equally delightful follow-up, Farnsworth’s Classical English Metaphor. Precedent be damned, he did not title his newest book Farnsworth’s Classical Roman Stoicism, but it follows the pattern set by the first, in which a rhetorical figure (Epizeuxis, say) was briefly defined, then illustrated with well-chosen quotations before moving on to Chiasmus or some other concept. Similarly, in The Practicing Stoic Farnsworth considers one idea at a time (judgment, death, desire, etc.), describing in his own words the Stoic understanding of such and illustrating it with copious citations from marble-busted heavies like Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and (my personal favorite) Seneca. Recourse is also made to later authors like Montaigne, Dr. Johnson and Schopenhauer to demonstrate the lingering influence of Stoic thought. It’s difficult to imagine a more appealing or better organized introduction to Stoicism for those who, for whatever reason, find it impossible to engage directly with the undiluted Stoics themselves. If Farnsworth’s book earns a readership of any size, he will have accomplished a civic good, because God knows we could use some practical, old-school philosophy in our whimpering, infantilized age. But this is not to say that I have no complaints with the book, or with Stoicism. I think, for example, that Farnsworth could have spent more time contemplating the point at which our judgments and the objective qualities of events may in fact align with one another, and how we may know when that is so. I am very willing to agree that the mass of our judgments are disordered but it does not follow that (to adapt Hamlet’s words) “there is [absolutely] nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” I can hardly blame Mr Farnsworth, however, since this seems to be a weak point of classical Stoicism itself.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Two Readers in Love

    An excellent thematic compedium of quotes from the suriviving writing of prominent Stoics (primarily Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius) and their intellectual inheritors (a wide selection of quotes from Michel de Montaigne, Adam Smith, Samuel Johnson, and more.) This is an entirely contemporary book, with an accesible writing style, but it reminds me -- in a good way -- of the type of project an 18th century intellectual might set for themselves. It is on my list of books to revisit at a la An excellent thematic compedium of quotes from the suriviving writing of prominent Stoics (primarily Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius) and their intellectual inheritors (a wide selection of quotes from Michel de Montaigne, Adam Smith, Samuel Johnson, and more.) This is an entirely contemporary book, with an accesible writing style, but it reminds me -- in a good way -- of the type of project an 18th century intellectual might set for themselves. It is on my list of books to revisit at a later date, as it is the type of work that I expect will read differently at different stages of my life. I agree with Farnsworth that "[t]here is a distinct pleasure to be had, for those with a taste for it, in receiving these lessons from their original sources. An observation about our world that seems sharp and accurate gains a different kind of force when we see it expressed twenty centuries ago. The truth improves with age." Note: The great cover art is "Les jeunes lionceaux recurent sa benediction" from J.J. Grandville's Scenes de la vie privee et publique des animaux. If you have ever been owned by a Norwich Terrier the expression on the right-most lion cub's face is uncannily familiar.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jerry James

    Best book on Stoicism. Organizes all the points with great passages from Stoic thinkers.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brian D. Avsec

    The Practicing Stoic: A Philosophical User’s Manual is exactly that! The author has done a terrific job of putting together Stoic principals into topics that apply to everyday life. It was an easy read but more important now a reference guide always there when I need it. He also introduced several new Stoic writers such as Montaigne that provide a more modern interpretation of Stoic principals.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Oliver

    A really thoughtful and well-organised collection of insights from the (late) Stoic thinkers, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, but also earlier ones like Epictetus. Also Montaigne figures and several other thinkers. The author provides some clarifications and overarching themes. I found the systematic overview by topic and the last chapter that summarises and answers common criticisms of Stoic ideas helpful. I’ve read a few of the original works and some other compilations (if it may be called that). I th A really thoughtful and well-organised collection of insights from the (late) Stoic thinkers, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, but also earlier ones like Epictetus. Also Montaigne figures and several other thinkers. The author provides some clarifications and overarching themes. I found the systematic overview by topic and the last chapter that summarises and answers common criticisms of Stoic ideas helpful. I’ve read a few of the original works and some other compilations (if it may be called that). I think this work can be a good introduction for anyone or a nicely organised review for others. Highly recommended.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    This book, I think, will come to be recognized as a classic of stoicism. It really should be on the bookshelf—no, on the nightstand(!)—of any modern practitioner of stoicism. It is, essentially, a thematically arranged anthology of passages from both the ancient stoics (Epictetus, Seneca, Aurelius, etc.) and various stoic “sympathizers” (such as Montaigne, Schopenhauer, and Samuel Johnson), through history. But it is not JUST an anthology, inasmuch as Farnsworth provides context and commentary t This book, I think, will come to be recognized as a classic of stoicism. It really should be on the bookshelf—no, on the nightstand(!)—of any modern practitioner of stoicism. It is, essentially, a thematically arranged anthology of passages from both the ancient stoics (Epictetus, Seneca, Aurelius, etc.) and various stoic “sympathizers” (such as Montaigne, Schopenhauer, and Samuel Johnson), through history. But it is not JUST an anthology, inasmuch as Farnsworth provides context and commentary throughout. It really is a rich book. I have been reading it a few pages at a time for the last few months. It presents the most convincing case I have read for the relevance of stoicism to modern life. I will even say that its ideas have helped me through some troubling events in my recent life, helping me to think about those events in more fruitful ways. So I say, if you are interested in the possibility of stoicism as a philosophy of life, this is the book you should read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Juan Rivera

    There are many similarities between Buddhism and Stoicism. I know the Stoics have a bad reputation, with people like Seneca; but his philosophy is very interesting and is based on three things: - No matter what happens to you abroad, what matters is what you are thinking and how you act according to what you are thinking. The secret is in you, not in the middle. - Detachment from things that happen is the secret to living well. This does not mean enjoying things but not being attached to them. - There are many similarities between Buddhism and Stoicism. I know the Stoics have a bad reputation, with people like Seneca; but his philosophy is very interesting and is based on three things: - No matter what happens to you abroad, what matters is what you are thinking and how you act according to what you are thinking. The secret is in you, not in the middle. - Detachment from things that happen is the secret to living well. This does not mean enjoying things but not being attached to them. - Virtue is the way to happiness. In Ward Farnsworth's book "The Practicing Stoic" you can read how Stoics think about things like: judging others and what happens to us, the outside world, perspective, death, desire, wealth and pleasure, what others think of us, the value we place on ourselves, emotions, adversity, virtue and others. I think the most important thing is that being stoic is a path, you don't have to read, but do, in order to be stoic. Very interesting book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tom Walsh

    Concise yet Comprehensive. This is a great introduction to an often misunderstood School of Philosophy. Through the words of Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, and their later followers, Farnsworth lays out the Stoics’ basic approach to many aspects of Living: Virtue, The Views of Others, Wealth, Pleasure and Death, etc. The structure of the book makes for a fast read from cover to cover or a reference work to be dipped into in times of need. I enjoyed it on both levels. I thought of myself Concise yet Comprehensive. This is a great introduction to an often misunderstood School of Philosophy. Through the words of Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, and their later followers, Farnsworth lays out the Stoics’ basic approach to many aspects of Living: Virtue, The Views of Others, Wealth, Pleasure and Death, etc. The structure of the book makes for a fast read from cover to cover or a reference work to be dipped into in times of need. I enjoyed it on both levels. I thought of myself as more of a follower of Epicurus but came away from my first reading as seeing the need for the Detachment the Stoics taught as a necessary component of a Complete Life. Four Stars.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    An excellent trove of distilled, abundant wisdom. Farnsworth includes a generous amount of context, disclaimers, and criticism of the Stoics to bookend an incredibly organized, thematic guide to separate aspects not just of Stoic philosophy but of life. An immensely therapeutic, treasured reading experience, and a book I will undoubtedly return to when needed.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Chogsom

    This book has laid a solid foundation of what Stoicism is and wraps the gems and highlights of the philosophy in an intuitive structure. The title and the subject seem vast and daunting, yet does not feel too deep or complex. Insights from this book can be easily integrated to life and living if one wishes to do so and agrees that the Stoic principles might be of use to improving the quality of life. As a lay-person to Stoicism, I found the reading as an enjoyable experience and one that I could This book has laid a solid foundation of what Stoicism is and wraps the gems and highlights of the philosophy in an intuitive structure. The title and the subject seem vast and daunting, yet does not feel too deep or complex. Insights from this book can be easily integrated to life and living if one wishes to do so and agrees that the Stoic principles might be of use to improving the quality of life. As a lay-person to Stoicism, I found the reading as an enjoyable experience and one that I could return to at later stages. The book is highly recommended for those who seek wisdom, believe in virtue and personal integrity, therefore pursue the fulfillment of one's life and peace of mind.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Oualid

    My first introduction to Stoicism was through The School of Life YouTube channel. I loved their take on it and became since very interested in the philosophy. I decided not to start by reading the stoics’ books but to read someone’s take on it so it would give me a better understanding of the stoic philosophers’ works and teachings. This book is exactly what I needed. I loved the way the author explained in very concise manner the arguments that the stoics meant to convey, although it would have My first introduction to Stoicism was through The School of Life YouTube channel. I loved their take on it and became since very interested in the philosophy. I decided not to start by reading the stoics’ books but to read someone’s take on it so it would give me a better understanding of the stoic philosophers’ works and teachings. This book is exactly what I needed. I loved the way the author explained in very concise manner the arguments that the stoics meant to convey, although it would have been better if he had expanded on some parts. This is a very good book in my opinion to anyone who wants to delve into Stoicism, but it doesn’t excuse one of reading the actual works of the sect of Zeno. Something else that I like to mention is that I appreciated that the author did not overestimate Stoicism and present it as something that it isn't. Stoicism is meant to help the student improve his life even if slightly, and not a religion or a perfect set of ideas that promise the impossible.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael Baranowski

    Not bad, but more for someone who either knows nothing of Stoicism or who hasn't read many of the Big Three Stoics - Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. But I still found it both inspirational and useful, in that it introduced me to some authors who, while not exactly Stoics themselves, discussed Stoic themes in ways that I found very worthwhile.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Teo 2050

    2020.09.16–2020.09.18 Outstanding. This synthesis and interpretation is by far the single most useful book I’ve read on Stoicism. Better yet, it’s one of the top timeless wisdom books I’ve read in general, including all of what I’ve read on Buddhism. This is finally a Stoic book I’ll certainly use for practice. It emphasizes all the useful things and contains little else, achieving a high signal-to-noise ratio for modern readers. For context, I’d previously read the following books on Stoicism: • A 2020.09.16–2020.09.18 Outstanding. This synthesis and interpretation is by far the single most useful book I’ve read on Stoicism. Better yet, it’s one of the top timeless wisdom books I’ve read in general, including all of what I’ve read on Buddhism. This is finally a Stoic book I’ll certainly use for practice. It emphasizes all the useful things and contains little else, achieving a high signal-to-noise ratio for modern readers. For context, I’d previously read the following books on Stoicism: • Aurelius M (180) Meditations (translation by Gregory Hays) • Epictetus (2016) Enchiridion & Discourses, The • Ferriss T (2016) Tao of Seneca, The - Practical Letters from a Stoic Master, Volume 1 • Frankl VE (1992) Man's Search for Meaning - An Introduction to Logotherapy (4e) • Holiday R (2016) Ego Is the Enemy • Holiday R & Hanselman S (2016) Daily Stoic, The - 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity • Inwood B (2018) Stoicism - A Very Short Introduction • Irvine WB (2008) Guide to the Good Life, A - The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy • Miles T (2015) Stoicism - A Stoic Approach to Modern Life • Pigliucci M (2017) How to Be a Stoic - Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life • Seneca (49) On the Shortness of Life The writing, structure, and inclusion choices are excellent; the same author has also written books on law, rhetoric, and chess. About the audiobook narration by John Lescault I have nothing bad to say either. Currently, this has only 5% of the ratings of The Daily Stoic or A Guide to the Good Life, but time will fix that. (Those are my favorites of the above list, since the original sources aren’t so well organized and Stoicism can greatly benefit from modern interpretation.) Contents Farnsworth W (2018) (09:57) Practicing Stoic, The - A Philosophical User’s Manual Preface Introduction 01. Judgment • The general principle • Stoic practice • Comparisons • Food • Metaphors and analogies 02. Externals • Things not up to us • Good and evil • Externals and liberty • Adding nothing to externals • Judging others 03. Perspective • Time • Space • Perishability • Applications to mortality • Reduction • Repetition • The overhead view • Implications 04. Death • Fear of death • Fearlessness of death • Correctives to fear • • The unknown experience of death • • The painlessness of death • • Death as transformation • • Comparisons to the time before birth • • Comparisons to unreasoning creatures • • Relief; the value of mortality • The progressive character of death • The availability of death • Duration vs. quality • The manner of death • Death as a universal and equalizer • The proximity of death • Intimacy with death • Mortality as inspiration 05. Desire • The insatiability of desires • Natural vs. unnatural appetites • Chasing vs. having • Disgust with possession • Envy • Desires and opinions • Useful comparisons to other people • Useful comparisons to loss 06. Wealth and Pleasure • Hazards of money • The effect of wealth on its holder • Hazards of pleasure • Things unneeded • Acceptance • Detachment • Moderation • Natural appetites (con’t.) • Uses of pleasure • Pleasures of the mind 07. What Others Think • Conformity; common opinion • The appetite for praise • Contempt for the judgments of others • Futility • Valuing one’s own judgments • Valuing things for their own sake • Contempt for contempt • Contempt for the source of the contempt • Endlessness • Humility • Mistakes • Empathy and forgiveness 08. Valuation • The present • Using the past • Time • Invisible prices, intangible benefits • Self-knowledge; humility • Love of self • Projection 09. Emotion • Inevitabilities • Fear • Antidotes to fear; rational scrutiny • Don’t borrow trouble • And what if it does? • Anger • Anger as opinion • Uses of humor • Uses of delay • Avoiding causes for anger • The endlessness of anger • Justice without anger • Grief • • Grief and opinion • • Grief and mastery • • Grief and futility • • Grief and memory • Limitations 10. Adversity • Preferences • Inevitability • Hermes’ magic wand • Equipment • Adversity as proving ground • Adversity as training • Adversity as privilege • Humility in judgment • Point of view • Anticipation • Pain and opinion • Adaptation 11. Virtue • Definitions • Benefits of virtue • Honesty • Consistency • Love, kindness, compassion • Interdependence and service 12. Learning • Review • Watching • Meditation • Places • Solitude • Good and bad company • Multitudes • The assimilation of teachings • Words • Comparisons to physical development • Dedication • Encouragement 13. Stoicism and Its Critics • Heartlessness • Impossibility • Hypocrisy

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jose Torres

    TBA But here are quotes I wrote down on during my reading. (4 out of 5 stars because it was a little too repetitive. Practice does make perfect but this was just a tad bit too much for my liking.) Chapter Nine ..... Suggests...The stoic tries to reponds to events in a manner similar to what would be expected of anyone after long expierenced with them. The kind of response you might have after encountering the occasion for it thousand times,the result is not an uncaring or un-feeling attitude thoug TBA But here are quotes I wrote down on during my reading. (4 out of 5 stars because it was a little too repetitive. Practice does make perfect but this was just a tad bit too much for my liking.) Chapter Nine ..... Suggests...The stoic tries to reponds to events in a manner similar to what would be expected of anyone after long expierenced with them. The kind of response you might have after encountering the occasion for it thousand times,the result is not an uncaring or un-feeling attitude though it will probably not involve much emotion Its is the posture of a veteran. (Beggining of Chapter) Involuntary actions cant be helped. Nature reminds courage its own mortality of things Whatever is implanted and inborn can be reduced but not over come. When ever you are surrounded by people who are trying to convience you that you are unhappy consider not what you hear them say but what you your self feel -Seneca Chapter Nine Emotion April 28th 2020 What I fear the most is fear. April 29th 2020 Everyone knows that the path to become an accomplished athlete involves time and a commitment. So does progress in Stoicism. Its method are especially challenging because the mind is the trainer as well at the thing being trained. It has to teach to it self to do better. The stoic look at things from a point of view that differs from the automatic one and seeks to resist the convetional reaction to whatever may happen. This all requires steady attention and energy. But it gets easier with time. The stoics is less interested in the changes of scenary than in the changes of the self. Regards the first as unlikely to be pleasing with out second. Seneca How can the new sights of new countries give you pleasure. Getting to know cities and places That agitations of your turns out to be useless. Do you want to know why your running away doesn't help. You take yourself along. Your mental burden must be put down before any place will satisfy you. ....When someone says to you, you know nothing. And your not stung by the taunt, know then you are making headway. Sheep do not throw up the grass to show the shepperd how much they have eaten. After digesting the grass inside they bear wool and milk outside. Don't display you learning to the uninstructed display the action that result from the digestion of it. May 4th 2020

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sean Lynn

    After reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, I wanted to learn more about the philosophy that guided him. With a little confused research, I found The Practicing Stoic by Ward Farnsworth. This is a basic guide to the tenets of philosophical Stoicism, and for those interested in learning, it is a wonderful introduction. First, it organizes the concepts into themes, pulling from multiple sources. Second, it updates translation when needed, and gives context to quotes. Last, it it considers and an After reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, I wanted to learn more about the philosophy that guided him. With a little confused research, I found The Practicing Stoic by Ward Farnsworth. This is a basic guide to the tenets of philosophical Stoicism, and for those interested in learning, it is a wonderful introduction. First, it organizes the concepts into themes, pulling from multiple sources. Second, it updates translation when needed, and gives context to quotes. Last, it it considers and answers the critiques and arguments against Stoicism. One of the problems I had when I first started looking for a book to learn about Stoicism, was that there was no single authority. There was the journal of Aurelius, the letters of Seneca, the lectures of Epictetus, the works of Zeno, and the list goes on. Farnsworth, takes these teaching and more, collates them them by subject, and presents the result as a coherent thread. When the sources differ on an idea, he explains all the sides, and the context of each. Speaking of context, when I read Meditations, there were references to other philosophers, contemporaries, and occurrences. I was able to understand the essential concepts, but had no idea what Aurelius was alluding to. This book explains the references and gives the history behind them. If an idiom doesn't render well to modern English, the author would find or make a modern expression that conveyed the meaning, and then give literal translation for accuracy. Not only does Farnsworth give the background and argument for the teachings of Stoicism, he also discusses its detractors and their cases. Since, as stated before, there’s not a single authority on the subject, there are contradictions and inconsistencies, not to mention misconceptions and negative criticism. These points are given consideration. Some are explained, others refuted, and some are valid, but all are addressed. For those who are interested in learning about Stoicism, out of curiosity or as a guiding philosophy, The Practicing Stoic is a well researched, clearly explained, and easily understood book. It gave a firm grasp of the basic theory, and help me understand where I might want to go next for further reading.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Yash Gadodia

    I chanced upon this book as I do most other books - an obscure reddit post. It said it had changed the life of the reader. Having read the book, I see why the redditor gave this book such high praise. I have been studying Stoicism for about a year now, having read Meditations during a trek alone in the Himalayas. It was Marcus Aurelius' words that got me through the coldest and loneliest nights of my life. But now I wish I had read this book first. It is the perfect dive for someone looking to b I chanced upon this book as I do most other books - an obscure reddit post. It said it had changed the life of the reader. Having read the book, I see why the redditor gave this book such high praise. I have been studying Stoicism for about a year now, having read Meditations during a trek alone in the Himalayas. It was Marcus Aurelius' words that got me through the coldest and loneliest nights of my life. But now I wish I had read this book first. It is the perfect dive for someone looking to begin learning and practicing Stoicism. As the title suggests, it provides relevant examples for one to make changes in their life. The 13 chapters include Virtue, Emotion, Adversity Death, Desire, Wealth and Pleasure. These are such broad topics but Farnsworth goes pretty in depth into each one. He starts by explaining the idea behind the philosophical concept, then gives quotes from various philosophers over the years. It is a format that allows one to go back and re-read for new inspiration. I feel there is something new to take away each time one reads a chapter. I personally keep a notebook by my side when I read, so I can write something particularly insightful or thought-provoking for future reference. For this book, I felt that I spent more time writing stuff down than actually reading. I might have to buy a new little notebook now that most of it is taken up by this book. I would like to share the general principle of Stoicism which one can practice, even without having read all 250 or so pages. "We don't react to events, we react to judgements about them, and the judgements are up to us." Its a 3 step process. We have an event occur (Stoics argue that we often do not have control over what happens to us). Then we pass a judgement on that event. Then we react to that judgement. All we have to do is change the judgement we pass on events. There is something for everyone in this book. I highly recommend it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Godine Publisher & Black Sparrow Press

    As befits a good Stoic, Farnsworth’s expository prose exhibits both clarity and an unflappable calm… Throughout The Practicing Stoic, Farnsworth beautifully integrates his own observations with scores of quotations from Epictetus, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Montaigne and others. As a result, this isn’t just a book to read—it’s a book to return to, a book that will provide perspective and consolation at times of heartbreak or calamity. — Michael Dirda, The Washington Post This sturdy and engaging in As befits a good Stoic, Farnsworth’s expository prose exhibits both clarity and an unflappable calm… Throughout The Practicing Stoic, Farnsworth beautifully integrates his own observations with scores of quotations from Epictetus, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Montaigne and others. As a result, this isn’t just a book to read—it’s a book to return to, a book that will provide perspective and consolation at times of heartbreak or calamity. — Michael Dirda, The Washington Post This sturdy and engaging introductory text consists mostly of excerpts from the ancient Greek and Roman Stoic philosophers, especially Seneca (4 BCE–65), Epictetus (c. 55–135) through his student Arrian, and Marcus Aurelius (121–80) as well as that trio’s philosophical confreres, from the earlier Hellenic Stoics and Cicero to such contemporaries as Plutarch to moderns, including Montaigne, Adam Smith, and Schopenhauer… A philosophy to live by, Stoicism may remind many of Buddhism and Quakerism, for it asks of practitioners something very similar to what those disciplines call mindfulness. — Booklist A charming book, perfect for dipping, in which the calm and settling wisdom of the stoics shines forth with bracing clarity. — The New Criterion The Practicing Stoic…provides insight, inspiration, and direction by combining ancient wisdom with modern context. That, supplemented with Dean Farnsworth’s own insightful commentary, makes the complex wisdom of these ancient philosophers accessible to everyone. — The American Law Institute

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jude Thaddeus

    The original works of Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca are amazing, and will always be classics worth reading by themselves, but Ward Farnsworth has done something truly awesome with this book that makes me put it almost in same class as the original works. As someone who tries to practice Stoic Philosophy, I often find myself needing to reflect on some emotion or event I'm trying to get a handle on, and this book almost always helps me do it in a very efficient manner. Each chapter covers The original works of Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca are amazing, and will always be classics worth reading by themselves, but Ward Farnsworth has done something truly awesome with this book that makes me put it almost in same class as the original works. As someone who tries to practice Stoic Philosophy, I often find myself needing to reflect on some emotion or event I'm trying to get a handle on, and this book almost always helps me do it in a very efficient manner. Each chapter covers a theme, such as death, desire, wealth, pleasure, valuation, and adversity. Having a problem in your life? Trying to figure something out? There's probably a relevant chapter full of great perspective. The chapters draws in all the views from the big three Stoic authors of the Roman Stoa era, plus some ancients who were either influenced by the stoics or had very similar views, like Cicero and Plutarch. Farnsworth also calls in more modern voices who were also heavily influenced by the Stoics, including including Montaigne and Adam Smith. Together, all these voices weave a reasonable approach to life's undulations, giving perspective and solace that I find very valuable. My only regret is that it wasn't a longer book. I think several themes that people struggle with today, such as productivity, distraction, finding meaning in life, environmentalism, civic activism, and deciding on what to do with yourself could all be addressed in shorter chapters (as there is less material available).

  30. 4 out of 5

    Annie Yang-Perez

    The book is a systematic summary of the Stoicism school and its possibilities of practical application. It’s greatly appreciated that the author tries to take a balanced approach in presenting the thinking system and uses original quotes in its presentation. I’m generally in agreement with the Stoic aspirations, just with the following exceptions: Notes on 1/13 - I’m going through the Fame section of the Stoicism book, and I’m a bit bothered by the general condescending attitude. I think it’s ok The book is a systematic summary of the Stoicism school and its possibilities of practical application. It’s greatly appreciated that the author tries to take a balanced approach in presenting the thinking system and uses original quotes in its presentation. I’m generally in agreement with the Stoic aspirations, just with the following exceptions: Notes on 1/13 - I’m going through the Fame section of the Stoicism book, and I’m a bit bothered by the general condescending attitude. I think it’s ok to remind oneself that you don’t have to seek everyone’s approval but only the ones you value, but to generalize everyone as fools and lunatics is a bit arrogant. Or maybe they’re just trying to REALLY emphasize on the irrelevance of public opinion. Notes on 2/6 - The Stoic thinkers are just so unbelievably arrogant sometimes. I do not think we as humans get to tame Fate, or Life, or however you name it. We, as mortals, are dealt cards, and we learn to make the best of our hand. To me it’s dangerous to think that everything will get under control if one sticks to rationality and reason. Over and again we’ve witnessed how irrational the world and the people in it are. This way of thinking can paint an unrealistic picture of human power, and when the discrepancy between the ideal and the reality happens, Stoics are then instructed to endure it without a flicker of emotion. I think a fundamental flaw of Stoicism is its unrealistic demand of and disproportionate reliance on reason/rationality/logic, and is not truthful enough about our natural human selves. It’s an aspirational philosophy, less willing to embrace oneself as what one truly is. It’s great to emphasize reason and control, but only to a certain degree.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.