From ancient to new Stoicism: I — Stoic physics

Figs in Winter
12 min readApr 24, 2024

A conceptual map of where Stoicism came from and where it may be going

Chrysippus of Soli (center), surrounded by his famous cylinder and cone (see text). Trajan’s Market Museum, Rome. Photo by the Author.

Time to update Stoicism for the 21st century and beyond, don’t you think? I mean, the philosophy has been around since the 4th century BCE, but a few things have changed since then. Indeed, the initiative I recently announced, the School for a New Stoicism, has as its main objective to help bring this venerable and eminently practical philosophy squarely into modern times.

Naturally, I’m not the first one to try to update Stoicism, or to feel the need for it. In my mind the most serious attempt in that direction was made by Larry Becker, author of the aptly titled A New Stoicism. I made my own little contribution to the project by publishing an updated version of Epictetus’s Enchiridion entitled A Field Guide to a Happy Life.

This sort of efforts are different from those aimed at popularizing Stoicism, such as books by Don Robertson, John Sellars, and others. Though sometimes we see a combination of the two aims, as in Robertson’s Stoicism and the Art of Happiness, or Bill Irvine’s A Guide to the Good Life.

In this series of essays I want to do three things: first, to provide an accessible summary of the basic ideas that define Stoicism, because if we don’t have clarity…

--

--

Figs in Winter

by Massimo Pigliucci. New Stoicism and Beyond. Entirely AI free.