What good is thinking about death?


“The Stoics had the insight that the prospect of death can actually make our lives much happier than they would otherwise be,” (William Irvine) says. “You’re supposed to allow yourself to have a flickering thought that someday you’re going to die, and someday the people you love are going to die. I’ve tried it, and it’s incredibly powerful. Well, I am a 21st-century practicing Stoic.”

He’s a little late to the party. Stoicism as a school of philosophy rose to prominence in the 3rd century B.C. in Greece, then migrated to the Roman Empire, and hung around there through the reign of emperor Marcus Aurelius, who died in 180 A.D. “That Stoicism has seen better days is obvious,” Irvine, a professor of philosophy at Wright State University, writes in his book “A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy.” He stumbled across the philosophy when researching a book on Zen Buddhism—“I thought I wanted to be a Zen Buddhist,” he says, “but Stoicism just had a much more rational approach.”

Read the article from The Atlantic.

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