How to Live a Flourishing Life – Goal of Ancient Philosophy

Ancient Philosophy

While modern ethics is essentially concerned with which actions are right or wrong, ancient Greco-Romans conceived of ethics as the much broader inquiry into how to live a happy life – the pursuit of which they deemed to be a human being’s most important endeavor. But, a happy life can be pursued in different ways, depending on which concept of eudaimonia – the flourishing life – one adopts.

Though a flourishing life was the common goal, the major Hellenistic schools of philosophy differed on how to achieve such a life.

Ethics is one of the classical branches of philosophy, with the other ones being: aesthetics (concerned with beauty and art), epistemology (the study of how we know things), logic (dedicated to understanding reason), and metaphysics (to comprehend the nature of the world).

How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life
How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life
Massimo Pigliucci

The Power of Choice


Consider who you are. Above all, a human being, carrying no greater power than your own reasoned choice, which oversees all other things, and is free from any other master.

    Epictetus, from Discourses

Your hidden power is your ability to use reason and make choices, however limited or small.

What are the choices available to you, day after day? You might be surprised at how many there actually are. Are you taking advantage? Are you finding the positives?

The Daily Stoic

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living
Ryan Holiday

Background on Epictetus

What is the Origin and Meaning of “Agnosticism”?

For T.H. Huxley, who coined the term in 1869, agnosticsm was as demanding as any moral, philosophical, or religious creed. Rather than a creed, though, he saw it was a method realized through “the rigorous application of a single principle.”

He expressed it positively as: “Follow your reason as far as it will take you,” and negatively as: “Do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable.”

This principle runs through the Western tradition: from Socrates, via the Reformation and Enlightenment, to the axioms of modern science. Huxley called it the “agnostic faith.”

Buddhism Without Beliefs
Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening
Stephen Batchelor

Background on Stephen Batchelor

The Freedom of Being Who You Are


Why Try to Escape?

Only creatures that are as flawed and ignorant as humans can be free in the way humans are free.

We do not know how matter came to dream our world into being. We do not know what, if anything, comes when the dream ends for us and we die. We yearn for a type of knowledge that would make us other than we are — though what we would like to be, we cannot say.

Letting Go, Being Free

Accepting the fact of unknowing makes possible an inner freedom very different from that pursued by Gnostics. If you have this negative capability, you will not want a higher form of consciousness. Your ordinary mind will give you all you need.

Rather than trying to impose sense upon life, you will be content to let meaning come and go. Instead of becoming an unfaltering puppet, you will make your way in the stumbling human world.

We do not have to wait until we can fly before we can be free. Not looking to ascend into the heavens, we can find freedom in falling to earth.

Soul of the Marionette
The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Inquiry into Human Freedom
John Gray



John Gray
John Gray

born 1948

. Wikipedia
. Wikiquote

. Big Think repository
. Forget your delusions and be happy, advises John Gray (Oxford Today article)

John Gray is an English political philosopher with interests in analytic philosophy and the history of ideas. He has been a professor of politics at Oxford, a visiting professor at Harvard and Yale, and School Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Gray now writes full-time. He contributes regularly to The GuardianThe Times Literary Supplement and the New Statesman, where he is the lead book reviewer.

Books John Gray has written include:

“A Short Enquiry Into Human Freedom” – John Gray


On Man, Beliefs and Changes – John Gray



How Can We Experience Joy In Life?


Experiencing Joy in Life

Joy for human beings lies in proper human work. And proper human work consists in: acts of kindness to  other human beings, disdain for the stirrings of the senses, identifying trustworthy impressions, and contemplating the natural order and all that happens when you keep it.

Marcus Aurelius, from Meditations

When dog trainers are brought in to work with a dysfunctional or unhappy dog, they usually start with the question: “Do you take the dog for walks?” They ask because dogs were bred to do certain tasks –  to do work – and when deprived of this essential part of their nature, they suffer and act out. This is true no matter how spoiled and nice their lives might be.

The same is true for humans. When you hear the Stoics brush aside certain emotions or material luxuries, it’s not because they don’t want to enjoy them. It’s not because the Stoic life is one bereft of happiness or fun. The Stoics simply mean to help us find our essence – to experience the joy of our proper human work.

Stoicism flourished throughout the Roman and Greek world until the 3rd century AD. Stoicism is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world.

The Daily Stoic
The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living
Ryan Holiday

Background on Marcus Aurelius