Interview with a Stoic: William O. Stephens


13 Responses to “Interview with a Stoic: William O. Stephens”

  1. hassenpfeffer says:

    Great. Now if we could get exact definitions of “wickedness” and “virtue” we’d be all set.

  2. Wally Ballou says:

    “What Stoic exercises do you find most useful”

    As another lifelong Cubs fan, I find that mentally pasting an image of Tommie Agee to the backsplash of every urinal I use is immensely helpful.

  3. I like the serenity prayer but I suspect that many people lack wisdom, or the courage to change what they could.  It is far easier, or safer, to accept what one should not than to risk changing what one could…

    • redjon says:

      The Stoic response would be that the wise choice is to know one’s self well enough to accept whatEVER one cannot summon the courage to change.  Yoda said this in only a few words: “Do, or do not.  There is no try.”

  4. I’ve been practicing stoicism for about a year now and I love how it has guided my life. In fact, it was the review of the book “A Guide to the Good Life” on Boing Boing that piquéd my interest. In that time I’ve found the formula for happiness (for me) = Stoicism + curiosity + altruism. I throw in a bit of apathy if I get overwhelmed. Also, beer.

  5. William Stephens says:

    Terrific, Jenny!  Stoicism is entirely receptive to both curiosity and altruism, as I see it.  Stoics are NOT complacent.  Stoics value their own wisdom and justice above all material possessions and the opinions of others.  So a Stoic moved by altruism to promote the good of others, act altruistically (and locally), and think globally, is acting out her personal commitment to being as just a person as she can be.  Bravo!  (The beer helps too.)

  6. Palomino says:

    How can you “practice” Stoicism when most of it’s writings and teachings have been destroyed? 

  7. yadayadaaa says:

    Through my  years in recovery, I’ve found the Serenity prayer,  focuses me on the present.
    IS and WAS is all their IS.
    So if I surrender the past and accept the future does not yet exist. Then their is only now.
    So how will I deal with it?
    If nothing else. It removes the clutter that I get overwhelmed by or take refuge in, to avoid DOING.
    My slice. Becomes clearer and more managable.
    Also, harder to avoid.

  8. yadayadaaa says:


    Is Creighton U still the
    Jesuit stronghold it once was?
    I long for the days, when a conscience and social
    action, were inseparable.
    As in the Barrigan brothers.

  9. Daniel says:

    There’s about 5000 years of historical research suggesting that it’s not human nature to “live in agreement with reason.”  Plus most of the people I’ve met who actually call themselves “stoics” were pretentious prats who didn’t seem nearly as self-aware and self-critical as stoicism would seem to demand.

    Serenity prayer is great but you don’t need to sign on to obscure 3000 year old philosophies to appreciate it.

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