Stoicism: Get Better at Life with Massimo Pigliucci

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Massimo Pigliucci is Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He has a doctorate in genetics from the University of Ferrara, Italy, a PhD in biology from the University of Connecticut, and a PhD in philosophy of science from the University of Tennessee. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

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Stand-up comedians Konstantin Kisin (@konstantinkisin) and Francis Foster (@francisjfoster) make sense of politics, economics, free speech, AI, drug policy and WW3 with the help of presidential advisors, renowned economists, award-winning journalists, controversial writers, leading scientists and notorious comedians.

00:00 Intro
04:46 What is Stoicism?
11:15 How to Become Wise
24:24 The Need for Philosophy to be Taught More
29:02 Why is There a Lack of Stoic Values in the World Today?
33:45 Does Human Tribal Instinct Outweigh Virtue?
40:41 The Difference Between Sympathy & Empathy
51:19 How to Learn From Past Civilisations’ Mistakes
1:04:37 What’s the One Thing We’re Not Talking About?

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  1. WATCH exclusive bonus content where Massimo answers audience questions.

    CLICK the link:


    00:00 Intro

    04:46 What is Stoicism?

    11:15 How to Become Wise

    24:24 The Need for Philosophy to be Taught More

    29:02 Why is There a Lack of Stoic Values in the World Today?

    33:45 Does Human Tribal Instinct Outweigh Virtue?

    40:41 The Difference Between Sympathy & Empathy

    51:19 How to Learn From Past Civilisations’ Mistakes

    1:04:37 What's the One Thing We’re Not Talking About?

  2. Who voted in the politicians? No-one. They have been selected by the plutocrats and oligarchs and they pass only laws and policies that are supported by the plutocrats and oligarchs. This has been proven time and again by political scientists who study our societies.

  3. I think the influence of money in politics is generally overstated but I'm open to a good argument. I think the Microsoft example is terrible. Microsoft was indeed ordered broken up by the Federal Courts and indeed didn't get broken up but pretty much everything else stated is incorrect.

    1. If Microsoft "bought" a Senator to save them with legislation, a majority of other Senators, a majority of the House of Representatives, and the President have to all agree. If that were true, it would be hard for me to classify that outcome as not democratic given those groups are all more accountable to the people than Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson who made the original ruling.

    2. It's not true. I don't even think the Federal Legislative process is even capable of directly countering an antitrust ruling like that. What happened was the ruling was overturned on appeal and Microsoft ended up settling with a much less adverse Georgie W Bush administration that had taken over during the course of the lawsuit which was initially brought by the Clinton Administration.

    *Disclaimer, I work for Microsoft (less than a year). Facts are facts though. Otherwise I enjoyed the conversation!

  4. Empathy has been weaponised by the NZ Prime Minister whose mantra, Be Kind, underlies her government's intentions to introduce hate speech laws. These apparently will boil down to targeting anti-religious speech, in other words they'll be blasphemy laws. We will be forced to be kind to religious oppression and persecution.

  5. I loved to hear his distaste for Elon. I also think that man is highly overrated. He is not a dumb idiot obviously, very smart even! But he is a colossal manchild put on a pedestal by his disciples, where he really doesn't belong. I wouldn't be surprised if one or more of those disciples would be triggered enough by this comment to insult me because there are no greater fanatics on the internet (apart from possibly the fanatics of Trump, Jordan Peterson, Michael Jackson, Oasis and Beyoncé… but they're all in the same ballpark).

    I thought this was one of your better episodes in a while! Great one, thanks!

  6. At the most fundamental biological factors are responsible for the will and individual goal direction. All aspects of ethical desire, willpower, capability to learn, memory, etc. come down to biological factors like genes, microbiome, brain structure, blood pressure, natal/prenatal development, etc. I have met people who have no capability or desire for ethical reasoning and others who might but lack the ability to regulate their emotions and impulsivity due to brain injuries. Free will is an illusion. Under certain environmental conditions people will respond according to their biological program. Even seeming restraint is the result of biological factors. There is no escaping it. Free will and stoicism in general are based on the Greek ideas of platonic forms and truths that exist beyond the material world which have been proven false both by reason and science.

  7. Starts the interview preaching against tribalism, ends the interview being completely tribal about politics.

    "I hold that no man has treated mankind worse than he who has studied philosophy as if it were some marketable trade, who lives in a different manner from that which he advises. For those who are liable to every fault which they castigate advertise themselves as patterns of useless training."

    – Seneca, a Stoic writer.

  8. I have approached the headmistress of my kids' school to consider approaching philosophy as a teaching subject.
    I talked about Socrates' habit of questioning everything – even the status quo because given the how asleep people have been during covid times… people need to have the impulse to question.

    She seemed fairly interested.

  9. For a long time I've been thinking that what we're desperately missing in our society and education is the basics of morality and wisdom. We're like teenagers who rejected their parents rule and imagined we could now do anything we wanted. Yes we can do anything but lack of values and wisdom brings about sad and often terrible consequences. It's time for us to mature as a species. To become wiser. I keep my fingers crossed for us 🙂 Great guest, great interview, thank you all!

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