To a viewer on the web, TED Talks and TEDx talks could appear kind of the identical. That is smart, because the important distinction between them isn’t of format, however bodily location: TED talks happen at official TED conferences, and TEDx talks at TED-licensed however independently-organized occasions. The latter are extra quite a few, and in addition extra geographically assorted. Take the discuss above from TEDxAthens, the best place for speaker Massimo Pigliucci to ship his opening historic sketch, which he begins by asking his viewers to “think about, if you’ll, that you simply’re strolling down the streets of Athens 24 centuries in the past, give or take.”
In such a setting, “you may meet this man: Zeno of Citium.” A once-prosperous service provider stranded by a shipwreck, he’d wound up within the Greek metropolis, the place he spent his days hanging round bookstores. At some point “he learn Xenophon’s Memorabilia, which is a e book about Socrates, and he was so intrigued that he turned to the bookseller and stated, ‘The place I can discover me considered one of these folks, considered one of these thinker people?’” Fortunately for Zeno, the streets of Athens had been crawling with philosophers on the time, and it was underneath their tutelage that he developed his personal philosophical acumen to a stage that ready him to discovered his personal college: Stoicism, so named as a result of its members met within the stoa, the place the markets arrange.
The early Stoics had been involved with on a regular basis life, and the way it may be lived “in accordance with nature”: the world’s nature, but additionally our personal. Then, as now, an awesome many individuals suffered unnecessarily out of confusion as to the place the world ended they usually started. They’d, in different phrases, no clear sense of what was underneath their management and what wasn’t, a situation that the core teachings of Stoicism are designed to rectify. “The concept is that you are able to do issues, you can also make choices about your well being, your status, et cetera, et cetera, however in the end, you don’t management the end result,” Pigliucci explains. In follow, which means “we should always attempt to stroll via life by internalizing our objectives — not fear concerning the outcomes, as a result of these are exterior our management, however fear about our intentions and our efforts, as a result of these are very a lot underneath our management.”
“Fear” is probably not fairly the suitable time period. It connotes, in any case, a self-defeating behavior that will hardly be condoned by historical past’s best-known proponents of Stoicism, like the primary century Roman statesman and man of letters Seneca, the second-century Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, and particularly the Greek ex-slave Epictetus, whose life bridged these eras. Epictetus believed, as Pigliucci places it, that “an awesome a part of happiness lies within the serenity,” in “the concept that you at all times stroll via life by understanding that you simply’ve carried out your finest, and that nothing else may very well be carried out on high of that.” We will study extra about how, precisely, to do our greatest from the work these Stoics left behind, all of which is free on-line: Epictetus’ Enchiridion, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, the assortment of Seneca’s writings beforehand featured right here on Open Tradition.
After all, we might additionally learn Pigliucci’s personal e book, The way to Be A Stoic: Utilizing Historic Philosophy to Reside a Fashionable Life, and even watch “Suppose Like a Stoic: Historic Knowledge for At the moment’s World,” his collection from The Nice Programs (which can also be accessible via Audible free to its members). Pigliucci is however one of many host of practitioners prepared to introduce us to the ideas of Stoicism, even these 24 centuries — give or take — after its invention. However whether or not on the streets of historic Athens or within the digital labyrinths of the Twenty first century, the most effective academics of this specific philosophy are the vicissitudes of life itself. Whether or not we are able to meet them with advantage and equanimity is as much as us — and certainly, to place it Stoically, the one factor that’s ever been as much as us.
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Primarily based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His tasks embrace the Substack e-newsletter Books on Cities, the e book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll via Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The Metropolis in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.