Celebrating Prof. Nancy Sherman: Free Excerpt from “Stoic Wisdom: Ancient Lessons for Modern Resilience”

This week we celebrate Prof. Nancy Sherman, her works and her valuable contribution to modern philosophy. We’re truly honored to have her on our board of advisors. PAC also wishes to celebrate the paperback release of Sherman’s Stoic Wisdom: Ancient Lessons for Modern Resilience (Oxford University Press)—releasing June 1st, now available for preorder!

On Stoic Wisdom: Ancient Lessons for Modern Resilience

How do we find calm in times of stress and uncertainty? How do we cope with sudden losses or find meaning in a world that can easily rob us of what we most value? Drawing on the wisdom of Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and others, Nancy Sherman’s Stoic Wisdom presents a compelling, modern Stoicism that teaches grit, resilience, and the importance of close relationships in addressing life’s biggest and smallest challenges.

A renowned expert in ancient and modern ethics, Sherman relates how Stoic methods of examining beliefs and perceptions can help us correct distortions in what we believe, see, and feel. Her study reveals a profound insight about the Stoics: They never believed, as Stoic popularizers often hold, that rugged self-reliance or indifference to the world around us is at the heart of living well. We are at home in the world, they insisted, when we are connected to each other in cooperative efforts. We build resilience and goodness through our deepest relationships. Bringing ancient ideas to bear on 21st century concerns―from workers facing stress and burnout to first responders in a pandemic, from soldiers on the battlefield to citizens fighting for racial justice―Sherman shows how Stoicism can help us fulfill the promise of our shared humanity. In nine lessons that combine ancient pithy quotes and daily exercises with contemporary ethics and psychology, Stoic Wisdom is a field manual for the art of living well.

Nancy Sherman goes far beyond the kind of ‘pen-and-ink philosophy’ that the Stoics had so little time for. In this book, she applies Stoicism where it is most needed–for our warriors and working people alike–and helps them become better and more resilient.

—Ryan Holiday, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Daily Stoic and Stillness is the Key

An excerpt from Stoic Wisdom: Ancient Lessons for Modern Resiliencecourtesy of Oxford University Press

Available for preorder now!

pp. 110-111

For practicing Stoics like Seneca, not yet wise but committed to moral progress, sharing in reason is equally an emotionally laden experience, exemplified in supportive friendships, including epistolary relationships. In the Letters on Ethics, we have a record. We read of Seneca’s excitement in sending off a letter and his eagerness in receiving a response, his consolations in grief, his disclosures of his own suffering, his reports of the trivia of the day, and his earnest aspirations to constancy and wisdom. We get a sense of solidarity and empathy meant to sustain each side in hard times.

Seneca writes these letters in the last few years of his life, in political retirement, with mortality and the enmity of Nero on his mind. Anxiety and the search for calm swirl on the pages. There is a retreat away from externals to the inner life. But it is done with a friend. “When I devote myself to friends, I do not even then withdraw from myself.”

Inspiration comes from the giants of the past—Socrates demonstrating his steadfastness to his philosophical principles in his death, Cato’s cleaving to the path of virtue in the face of political ambition, Scipio and Cincinnatus in exemplary military leadership.

Paragons from history are part of the support system. We needn’t restrict our friends to the living, insists Seneca. Inspiration comes from the giants of the past—Socrates demonstrating his steadfastness to his philosophical principles in his death, Cato’s cleaving to the path of virtue in the face of political ambition, Scipio and Cincinnatus in exemplary military leadership. The demigod Hercules cuts a more complicated figure, as we shall soon see. For although exceptional, his glory-seeking makes for a toxic and unstable mix, however arduous his struggles.

Seneca tells us that the sage rises only as often as the phoenix, every 500 years or so. For critics, a sage so rare is too daunting a model to be emulated. But a sage who shows emotions and who also can be clothed in concrete, historical detail is a way to make what’s godly earthly. And that is a part of the Stoic strategy for resilience—we are to visualize exemplary models, including divine ones, who can teach us how to face adversity.

This is just what Seneca’s contemporary Philo does in his Hellenistic commentary on the Old Testament. Once again, imagine the moment when Sarah nervously laughed to herself in learning that she would give birth to a child. How does surprise, and frankly fear and disbelief, at being able to conceive at such an old age move from trepidation to joy? Sarah, as Stoic matriarch, demonstrates how it’s possible to loosen the grip of emotions that make her “stagger and shake” and come to feel steadier ones that bring inner calm and joy. There are no pointers here about technique. What we get is an example of hope: how anxiety about a most improbable and dangerous birth can gradually shift to trust in a higher authority and equanimity. That is the Stoic Bible lesson.

Connections with real or allegorical figures from the past, and friendships in the present, are social elements in building Stoic grit. Seneca’s letters are addressed to his younger friend, Gaius Lucilius Iunior. The letters are undisguised moral counsel, but they do their work through rapport building. There are no known return letters from Lucilius. This is a literary art form. Still, Lucilius’s presence is on the page in questions and answers, news about him from mutual friends, a relationship built through the imagined to and fro of anticipated and received letters. “Every time a letter comes . . . I am with you.” Seneca has his eye on posterity here—merited praise that he has “been the cause of good” of others. If glory lives on through these letters, it’s in part in the record of how the Stoics teach through a relationship, and continue to do so.


Stoic Wisdom: Ancient Lessons for Modern Resilience (Oxford University Press) paperback is now available for preorder! Releases June 1st, 2023!

Celebrating Prof. Nancy Sherman

Nancy Sherman, a prominent philosopher, author, and professor, holds a special place in the world of ethics, moral psychology, and Stoicism. Her profound contributions have illuminated the understanding and practicality of ancient Stoic philosophy in our modern lives, with a particular focus on military ethics and the profound moral dimensions of war.

Within the pages of her remarkable book, Stoic Warriors: The Ancient Philosophy Behind the Military Mind published in 2005, Nancy Sherman delves into the profound connections between Stoic philosophy and the virtues essential to the military. In her exploration, she reveals how Stoic teachings possess the power to shape character, foster resilience, and guide ethical decision-making within the crucible of war and military service.

Yet, Nancy Sherman’s impact extends far beyond the confines of academia. Her extensive writings on moral injury, which encapsulates the psychological and moral anguish stemming from actions conflicting with one’s deeply held moral principles, have shed light on a critical aspect of human experience. In her poignant work, The Untold War: Inside the Hearts, Minds, and Souls of Our Soldiers, she delves into the profound moral and psychological challenges faced by soldiers in the aftermath of war, offering a glimmer of hope and the possibility of healing.

As a revered professor, Nancy Sherman has imparted her wisdom on philosophy and ethics to countless minds at Georgetown University, where she held the esteemed Distinguished Chair in Ethics. Furthermore, her invaluable service as a faculty member at the United States Naval Academy has allowed her to forge deep connections with military personnel, providing them with indispensable guidance and profound insights into the realms of moral resilience, moral injury, and military ethics.

Nancy Sherman’s remarkable contributions have solidified her as a revered figure within the realm of philosophy, leaving an indelible mark on the field. Her profound exploration of Stoic philosophy, particularly in relation to ethics and military virtues, has enriched our understanding of ancient wisdom and its practical application in modern life.

Through her extensive writings on moral injury and the psychological challenges faced by soldiers, Sherman has illuminated critical aspects of human experience, highlighting the profound moral dimensions of war and the path to healing. Her invaluable teachings and guidance have shaped the minds of countless individuals, fostering a deeper appreciation for philosophy’s role in shaping character, resilience, and ethical decision-making, solidifying her significance in the world of philosophy.

Thank you, Professor Sherman.

Nancy Sherman is a distinguished university professor and professor of philosophy at Georgetown University. She was also the inaugural Distinguished Chair in Ethics at the United States Naval Academy.

Stoicism as Therapeia (θεραπεία)

As the dust settles on our post pandemic world, it finds itself grappling with widespread social unrest and pervasive economic uncertainty, in conjunction with our everyday struggles as individuals. It is here that the marriage of ancient wisdom and therapy emerges as a guiding light, offering timeless insights into the human condition. By weaving together the principles of therapy and ancient philosophy, we can embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery and emerge more resilient.

Parthenon, Greece
Photo by Patrick on Unsplash

The Greek word “therapeia” (θεραπεία) is derived from the Greek verb “therapeuo” (θεραπεύω), which means “to serve” or “to attend to.” The ancient Greeks believed the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and spirit, and therapy encompassed all aspects of holistic healing. Within Greek mythology, the gods themselves were often associated with therapeutic practices. For example, Apollo, the Greek god of healing, was often invoked for the restoration of physical and mental health. So, therapeia was sometimes used to describe the activities carried out in Apollo’s temples, where individuals sought healing through prayer, offerings, and ritual practices.

Therapy and ancient philosophy share a common goal: the pursuit of inner harmony and eudaimonia, or flourishing.

a row of stone pillars sitting next to each other
Photo by Thanos Gkirinis on Unsplash, Temple of Apollo Delphi, Greece

Therapy and ancient philosophy share a common goal: the pursuit of inner harmony and eudaimonia, or flourishing. Ancient philosophers believed that true happiness and fulfillment came not from external circumstances but from cultivating virtues and aligning one’s actions with one’s values. In a similar vein, therapy aims to help individuals find a sense of meaning and purpose, develop self-compassion, and build resilience in the face of life’s challenges.

Stoicism offers particularly relevant insights in the context of therapy. It teaches individuals to distinguish between what is within their control and what is not, and to focus their energy on the former. The philosophy also emphasizes the importance of accepting life’s uncertainties, managing emotions, and cultivating a sense of gratitude. These Stoic principles can be integrated into therapy to help individuals navigate difficulties, develop resilience, and foster a sense of tranquility amid the storms of life.

Stoicism and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Stoicism and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) share several similarities and have a significant relationship. CBT is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the connections between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, aiming to identify and modify negative patterns of thinking and behavior. Stoicism, on the other hand, is a philosophy of life and emphasizes the importance of reason, virtue, and acceptance of the things we cannot control. The main goal of Stoic-therapy is apatheia (ἀπάθεια) which is freedom from being bound to our irrational passions such as anger, fear, or sadness.

The bust of Seneca, in a niche (Lucas Vorsterman)

The relationship between Stoicism and CBT lies in their shared principles and practices. They both highlight the role of our thoughts in shaping our emotions and behaviors; and recognize that it is not external events themselves that cause distress, but rather our interpretation and perception of those events. Both approaches emphasize the power of examining and challenging our thoughts and beliefs to foster healthier emotional and behavioral responses.

…the Stoic notion of “cognitive distancing” encourages individuals to step back from their immediate reactions and consider alternative interpretations of events, which is similar to CBT’s technique of cognitive restructuring.

For example, the Stoic notion of “cognitive distancing” encourages individuals to step back from their immediate reactions and consider alternative interpretations of events, which is similar to CBT’s technique of cognitive restructuring. Stoicism also encourages individuals to focus on what is within their control, while accepting that there are things outside their control, aligning with CBT’s emphasis on identifying and changing the aspects of a situation that can be influenced.

When our keynote speaker for our Philosophy & Resilience event, Tim Lebon— CBT practitioner and author of 365 Ways to Be More Stoicwas asked about how ancient Stoicism has helped his clients he replied,

“Sometimes Stoicism can help dramatically. In 365 Ways, we give the example of one man whose life was turned around when he heard about the dichotomy of control and the Serenity Prayer. For the previous decade his life had been ruined by focusing on  past misfortunates over which he had no control. The DOC helped him realize that he had a choice – to stay in the past or move forward.

People struggling with long-term health conditions can be helped by similar ideas. They can’t control the fact that they have a particular condition but they can control how they respond to it.

Seneca’s short work On Anger contains so many valuable ideas and memorable phrases. It’s common to hear people to say that you need anger to fight injustice. ‘No!’, reply Seneca and the Stoics, you need courage and wisdom to do this, not anger.

Perhaps the biggest impact though is with people suffering from anger and frustration. Seneca’s short work On Anger contains so many valuable ideas and memorable phrases. It’s common to hear people say that you need anger to fight injustice. No!, reply Seneca and the Stoics, you need courage and wisdom to do this, not anger. The red mist obscures your ability to see things properly and fairly. Or, as Seneca puts it

The sword of justice is ill-placed in the hands of an angry person

Seneca, On Anger 1.19 …”


In this period of flux and unpredictability, CBT teaches a range of coping skills, such as relaxation techniques, mindfulness, and stress management. These strategies help individuals develop healthier ways of dealing with stress and adversity, reducing the negative impact on their resilience. It also offers constructive strategies to overcome our limits and fears, rooted in false beliefs, that inhibit us from moving forward in life. Behavioral modification in CBT encourages individuals to engage in activities that promote well-being and build resilience. By gradually increasing exposure to challenging situations, individuals can develop confidence and adaptive responses, strengthening their resilience over time.

Tim LeBon will be “Introducing the STOIC Framework to Help you Become More Resilient”, incorporating both Stoicism and CBT, this Saturday, May 20th at 12pm EDT at Choose Not to Be Harmed: Philosophy & ResilienceHis book 365 Ways to Be More Stoic is a part of our grand prize giveaway of a 5-book hardcover set of the 365 series! (courtesy of John Murray Press)

Three runner ups will receive a hardback copy of Michael Fontaine’s How to Grieve: An Ancient Guide to the Lost Art of Consolation inspired by Cicero! (courtesy of Princeton University Press)


Together, CBT and Stoicism provide powerful tools to navigate uncertainty, build resilience, and find inner harmony in the face of adversity.

Join our keynote Tim LeBon and other living testaments to resilience like Karen Duffy, Prof. Nancy Sherman and more as they share insights into cultivating resilience through a Stoic lens at this Saturday’s virtual event, Choose Not to Be Harmed: Philosophy and Resilience. Hosted by Donald Robertson and Anya Leonard of Classical Wisdom Weekly.

It is FREE to register. However, you also have the option of donating an amount of your choosing. Your generosity keeps us putting on these events. Donations also go towards the development of an on-site location near the original site of Plato’s Academy in Akademia Platonos, Athens.


“Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been.” —Marcus Aurelius

We look forward to seeing you this Sat, May 20th at 12pm EDT!

Welcome to Plato’s Library

It is our pleasure to announce a brand new column in the Plato’s Academy Centre newsletter, called Plato’s Library.

Visit Plato’s Library

Plato’s Library will consist of bi-weekly posts containing exclusive excerpts from recent and forthcoming books on ancient philosophy, and related subjects. We have carefully selected this passages in consultation with publishers to give you a taste of the high-value content written by leading experts in the field. Some of these passages are advance previews from books that are not yet published — so you get a sneak peek at forthcoming titles. The Plato’s Academy Centre have been able to arrange this especially for our Substack subscribers because of our strong links with senior figures in the publishing industry.

Full access to this column is for our paying subscribers only, but free subscribers will receive brief previews of the content. Below you’ll find links to three of the excerpts recently published. Please comment on Substack, letting us and the authors know what you think. Thank you, once again, for your support. The Plato’s Academy Centre is a nonprofit organization. We wouldn’t be able to achieve our goals without you, our loyal subscribers!

Thank you for reading Plato’s Academy Centre Newsletter. This post is public so feel free to share it.

Comment on these three excerpts…

How to Tell a Joke: An Ancient Guide to the Art of Humor


Below you can read an exclusive excerpt courtesy of Princeton University Press from Michael Fontaine’s new book, How to Tell a Joke: An Ancient Guide to the Art of Humor. Is it possible for jokes to win over a hostile room, a seemingly unwinnable argument, or even an election? According to Cicero, the answer is a resounding yes.

Read full story

Plato’s Republic: A Ladybird Expert Book

This is an excerpt from Plato’s Republic: A Ladybird Expert Book reproduced by kind permission of the author, Prof. Angie Hobbs, and her publisher, Penguin. Philosophers, sophists, and alternative facts Why is Plato so committed to the existence of knowledge? Why is he not prepared to countenance the possibility that humans might have to withhold judgement?

Read full story

From ‘365 Ways to Be More Stoic’

How would you like to learn to be more Stoic? The latest book from Tim LeBon, research director of Modern Stoicism and cognitive-behavioral therapist, is called 365 Ways to Be More Stoic. So, what, according to the Stoics, is under our direct control? Less than most of us think… The problem is we spend so much time trying to control other things.

Book Giveaway Update: Philosophy & Resilience

Thanks to John Murray Press and Princeton University Press, we’re now offering more books in our giveaway for Saturday, May 20th’s Choose Not to Be Harmed: Philosophy & Resilience than any other event giveaway we’re hosted! There will now be FOUR lucky registered attendees that will receive hardback books!

Philosophy and Resilience Tickets, Sat, May 20, 2023 at 12:00 PM | Eventbrite

(Please note: We will send a form to every email address after the event; and we will select winners at random to those who have provided valid email addresses)

Grand prize is an entire hardback set of the 365 series including

  • 365 Ways to Develop Mental Toughness
  • 365 Ways to Live Mindfully
  • 365 Ways to Save the Planet
  • 365 Ways to Have a Good Day

and the recently released and 5-star reviewed

  • 365 Ways to Be More Stoic—written by one of our esteemed guest speakers, Tim LeBon!

“Spend a year with Tim LeBon learning ways to be more Stoic. It may change your life, for the better.”Massimo Pigliucci, Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York, author of How to Be a Stoic

3 runner-up winners will receive a hardback copy of How to Grieve: An Ancient Guide to the Lost Art of Consolation!

Inspired by Marcus Tullius Cicero and translated by another one of our honored guest speakers, Michael Fontaine!

“[How to Grieve] offers an engaging read . . . and will certainly make this fascinating text easily accessible.” —Catherine Steel, Classics for All

Join our exclusive online event on philosophy and resilience, featuring a special program of renowned authors like Tim LeBon, Michael Fontaine, Nancy Sherman, Donald Robertson, Karen Duffy and more

Philosophy and Resilience Tickets, Sat, May 20, 2023 at 12:00 PM | Eventbrite

During this event, each speaker will provide you with valuable knowledge and captivating insights into philosophy as a means to cultivate personal strength and resilience. You will learn from real-life examples, receive practical advice, and gain access to effective strategies that can help you build your own resilience. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn ways of tapping into the freedom that comes with choosing not to be harmed.

Hosted by Donald Robertson and Anya Leonard of Classical Wisdom Weekly.

Although we’ve made this event free to make it accessible to all, your donations keeps us hosting events like these. Your generosity also funds the development of an on-site location of Plato’s Academy Centre, near the original site of Plato’s Academy in Athens.

If your friends or loved ones are struggling with the disruptions of the world, including economic uncertainty and rising political polarization, and could use a healthy strategy to help cultivate resilience, please share the link below:


If you’re not available on the day, there’s no need to worry. A recording of the event will be sent to all attendees post airing.

We look forward to seeing you on May 20th!

Philosophy and Resilience Tickets, Sat, May 20, 2023 at 12:00 PM | Eventbrite

Speaker Announcement: Marcus Aurelius Anniversary Event

Plato’s Academy Centre is honored to welcome author William O. Stephens as a guest speaker at our event commemorating Marcus Aurelius’ birthday, Marcus Aurelius Anniversary on Wed, April 26th—featuring Donald Robertson and Dr. John Sellars. The event is a symposium that will examine, discuss, and celebrate the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, as well as its practical relevance in today’s world.

William O. Stephens holds the title of Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Creighton University in Nebraska and specializes in various fields such as ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, ethics, animals, and the environment. He is an accomplished author with a focus on philosophy, having written several books including Marcus Aurelius: A Guide for the PerplexedStoic Ethics: Epictetus and Happiness as Freedom, and Epictetus’s ‘Enchiridion’: A New Translation and Guide to Stoic Ethics. Additionally, he has an interest in Stoicism as a way of life, as well as Stoicism’s relationship with popular culture.

Plato’s Academy Centre invites all individuals to participate in a complimentary virtual event held on Wed April 26th in honor of Marcus Aurelius’ birthday. Even if you cannot attend the live event, you can register now and receive a link to the recorded video.

Plato’s Academy Centre Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.


While the event is free, donations to support the nonprofit Plato’s Academy Centre are welcome and greatly appreciated. Your contribution will aid in the organization and execution of similar events in the future.

Plato’s Academy would once again like to thank William O. Stephens for joining our roster and offering his valuable insight.

Come celebrate the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius with us!

Why Did We Change Our Event?

How Can We Save Rational Discourse

Extreme partisanship dominates. You must choose a team according to news networks, social media and even our own friends and family. This is not only a most unhealthy lens, but has led to the whole of society being uninformed and misinformed. It has even led to acts of violence as extreme as domestic terrorism.

The topic of politics is such a hot-button that it’s avoided at all costs for fear of the fall out. Being our authentic selves promotes our flourishing, happiness, and freedom, though! If we lose that freedom, we’ve lost who we are and have chosen to let those who anger us become our master, as Epictetus puts it.

It was after a meeting with our PAC Team that it was decided that the title of our March 11th event, Stoicism and Politics: How Can We Save Civility, be changed to How Can We Save Rational Discourse: Philosophy & Politics. We felt this better encapsulated the essence of our message: that regardless of philosophical lens, society is in dire need of restoring civility when discussing politics.

Join us and other modern day philosophy academics and authors as we discuss in Socratic fashion, How Can We Save Rational Discourse: Philosophy & Politics. EVERYONE is welcome and encouraged to attend!Our Finalized Run of Show

Civic Friendship & Politics as an Act of Love, Spencer Klavan, author of How to Save the West: Ancient Wisdom for Five Modern Crises, associate editor at the Claremont Institute, host of Western Civilization podcast with the Daily Wire

Stoicism and the Friend-Enemy Distinction, Pat McGeehan, member of the West Virginia House of Delegates (US), author of Stoicism and the Statehouse

Stoicism, the Enlightenment, Self-Othering, and Civility, Prof. Matthew Sharpe, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Deakin University, author of Stoicism, Bullying, and BeyondThe Other Enlightenment: Self-estrangement, Race, and Gender; series coeditor, Thinkers and Politics

What does Stoicism bring to the ‘diversity’ table?, Dr. Kai Whiting, Postdoctoral Researcher, Université catholique de Louvain, author of Being Better: Stoicism for a World Worth Living

Save Yourself, Save Your City, Diane Kalen-Sukra, founder of the Kalen Academy civic leadership academy, author of Save Your City: How Toxic Culture Kills Community & What to Do About It

Aristotle and the Stoics Meet Rock and Roll: A Return to Rational Discourse in Politics, Dr. Tom Morris, author of The Stoic Art of Living and The Everyday Patriot , Chairman, Morris Institute for Human Values

Solon of Athens on the Art of Positive-Sum Negotiation, Josiah Ober, American historian of ancient Greece and classical political theorist, Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Professor in honor of Constantine Mitsotakis, and professor of classics and political science, at Stanford University

Panel: Stoicism, Civility, and Politics, hosted by Anya Leonard. Panel includes: Justin Stead, Entrepreneur & Investor, CEO Radley London, Founder of Aurelius Foundation; Mick Mulroy, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for the Middle East. Senior Fellow for National Security and Defense Policy with the Middle East Institute, an Analyst for ABC News, and co-founder of the Lobo Institute; Alexandra O. Hudson, author of The Soul of Civility: Timeless Principles to Heal Society and Ourselves, founder of Civic Renaissance

KeynoteHubris Syndrome, Rt Hon. Lord David Owen, co-founder of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), member of the House of Lords, author of The Hubris Syndrome: Bush, Blair and The Intoxication of Power and Riddle, Mystery and EnigmaTwo Hundred Years of British-Russian Relations

Our hosts will be Donald Robertson, the president of the Plato’s Academy Centre, and Anya Leonard, the founder and director of the Classical Wisdom website

If you’re feeling stifled by extreme politics, know that you’re not alone. Please share this post and the message of rational, peaceful, and meaningful discourse with loved ones, friends, and colleagues by sharing the link below.


Thank you so much for your support. We can’t wait to see you there!

Andrew McConnell: Get Out of My Head

Andrew McConnell is the Founder and CEO of Rented.com, and the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Get Out of My Head: Creating Modern Clarity with Stoic Wisdom. Prior to launching Rented, he founded and ran VacationFutures, Inc. as well as Rented Capital, LLC. Before setting out on his own, Andrew worked with some of the world’s largest public and private entities as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, and as a Director, Solutions Design at Axiom Global, Inc. His prior experience also includes putting his law degrees to more immediate use at Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP and Ashe, Rafuse & Hill, as well as time at Merrill Lynch. A former member of the US National Team in Open Water Swimming, Andrew received his A.B. in History from Harvard University, his J.D. from Harvard Law School, and his LL.M. from the University of Cambridge, Trinity Hall. 

How did you become interested in this area?

I studied philosophy some in college, but admittedly it did not really stick. The books remained on my shelf, read but not understood. As I began my career, I felt a depth missing from my life. I was an avid reader of contemporary non-fiction, and from Tim Ferriss, Ryan Holiday, and others, I came across more and more references to Meditations, the letters of Seneca, and the teachings of Epictetus. At a certain point it became a critical mass pointing me in the direction of the source materials, and my journey to becoming a student of philosophy began.

In our modern and materialistic society there remains a single asset we can own:
our mind.

Andrew McConnell

What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?

In our modern and materialistic society there remains a single asset we can own:our mind. And yet, despite this, we unthinkingly give our mind away constantly, living as tenants rather than owners. Though this is our default state, and in many ways “natural,” it need not remain our end state. Mind ownership is something we should all aspire to and can all achieve.

What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?

Do the thing or don’t, but don’t spend your time not doing the thing thinking about it.

Do you have a favorite quote that you use?

Other people aren’t the problem.

paraphrase from Charlotte Joko Beck, “The Other Person is Never the Problem”

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?

What I “do” is not singular. I write, and you can learn more about that from my book, as well as my blog. I also build companies. You can follow my journey through my 100 articles for Forbes. I am a husband, a father, an athlete, and a lifelong student, and I share my journey on all of this on my blog, through third party outlets, and through social (LinkedIn and Instagram).

Suppose you were able to give a talk or workshop at the original location of Plato’s Academy, in Athens.

I would feel intimidated and inspired to deliver the performance of my life. I could not imagine a greater honor than to be on the spot of so much history, and to be able to speak on topics that are innately human and as applicable today as in Plato’s time.

Tiisetso Maloma: Ubuntu Stoicism

Tiisetso Maloma is a South African author of 8 books. He is also an entrepreneur, innovation scholar, and Stoic. In the last twelve years, he has co-created and launched over 100 self-funded products in multiple industries. Tiisetso studies innovation from an evolutionary lens. He has two published books on the topic: Innovate the Next and Understanding the 4th Industrial Revolution. His other books include The Anxious Entrepreneur, Forget the Business Plan Use This Short Model, Township Biz Adjacent and Township Biz Fastrack.

His upcoming book, Money is Biological, details how biology has had the action potential to enable money since 3.8 billion years ago. It follows the human inventive brain over millions of years and further looks into the future of money given today’s newer currencies, such as decentralized money like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Tiisetso’s topics explore and marry diverse domains such as innovation, entrepreneurship, anthropology, complexity, creativity, biology, evolutionary psychology, and economics. His love of creation and teaching “how to” led him to become a guest lecturer at business schools such as Wits Business School and Johannesburg Business School.

Maloma has been featured on CNBC Africa, How We Made It In Africa, The Huffington Post, Under 30 CEO and, Destiny Man.

Maloma’s founded and co-founded businesses include Bula Buka, Startup Picnic, Gabble Heights Clothing, eKhaya Moji, and Defuse Anxiety.

Ubuntu means humility. It’s an Africa philosophy that is carried through proverbs mostly. These proverbs usually reinforce motivation, humility, inspiration, meaning, and cautionary discipline.

Tiisetso Maloma

How did you become interested in this area?

We are all ever looking for mental frameworks that can help us navigate the world better. I was raised Christian and at some point, in my early twenties, I became a borderline atheist. I was searching for meaning. Still, in search of meaning, I went back to believing in God. I think from that point on, I was open to exploring meaning in different areas. It wouldn’t take away from my faith but overall add to me as a person.

A few years later I was going through some anxieties brought about by the venture that is entrepreneurship. Then through podcasts, I discovered Stoic philosophy. It resonated with me practically. Then Stoicism became my go-to philosophy. II find its perspective healthy for me. I would eventually write a book on the subject, Introducing Ubuntu Stoicism: Gain Joy, Resilience, Productivity, and Defuse Anxiety.

Ubuntu means humility. It’s an Africa Philosophy that is carried through proverbs mostly. These proverbs usually reinforce motivation, humility, inspiration, meaning, and cautionary discipline. I am South African, and I grew up on our vernacular proverbs. Ubuntu and Stoicism play hand-in-hand, in my opinion. They both caution and reinforce healthy and productive perspectives.

What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?

That philosophy is about healthy perspectives. A healthy perspective carries you in good and bad times. In bad times, if you do not have a healthy perspective, you can entropy into chaos. As Marcus said,

Does what’s happened to keep you from acting with justice, generosity, self-control, sanity, prudence, honesty, humility, straightforwardness, and all other qualities that allow a person’s nature to fulfil itself? So, remember this principle when something threatens to cause you pain: the thing itself was no misfortune at all; to endure it and prevail is great good fortune.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

It’s good counsel. Imagine if someone makes you angry. The aforementioned quote is a good reminder to not let this anger spill into your other interactions (e.g., with family).

So, I say to people that they should collate perspectives that they deem useful in living a good life. These perspectives could be in the form of quotes. It could be quotations by others and even their own. They should read them often, at least weekly.

…we’re not always perfect. Therefore, we need to extend grace and humility to ourselves as well.

Tiisetso Maloma

What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?

That philosophy is a collection of good perspectives to try to live a virtuous life. This virtuous life cannot be lived in words but through action. Philosophy is reading these good perspectives often. It’s a good reference point to see if we are living per our ideals.

Also, that we’re not always perfect. Therefore, we need to extend grace and humility to ourselves as well. It is the Ubuntu part. Ubuntu means both grace and humility. Philosophical people can be hard on themselves harshly.

Do you have a favorite quote that you use?

Yes, my own personal reminder.

Philosophy is perspective. Perspective is either healthy or unhealthy. A healthy perspective does not mean the situation is good necessarily. If you are in a bad situation, the healthy perspective is to act upon the probability that if you let yourself disintegrate, you will entropy in chaos.

Tiisetso Maloma

I created this reminder to mind the lens in which I view events and the world.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?

I’ve been blogging for over 10 years about my entrepreneurship ventures. I think the best place to start is there, my blog and its newsletter. Otherwise, the content is varied. There is an amalgamation of entrepreneurship, innovation, life advice, comedy, philosophy, satire, and other little pockets of interests that I have.

Suppose you were able to give a talk or workshop at the original location of Plato’s Academy, in Athens. 

I would feel fantastic. Even the mental image of it feels good.

Erlend D. MacGillivray: Epictetus and the Lay People

Dr. Erlend D. MacGillivray gained his PhD from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. During his time at Aberdeen, he was an academic tutor in New Testament Studies, early Church history, and Greco-Roman history, and also helped to coordinate the Divinity school’s distance learning program. In 2015 he was a visiting Professor of New Testament Exegesis at Asian Theological Seminary in Manila. He is published in academic journals such as Journal of Greco-Roman Judaism and Christianity, Novum Testamentum, Journal of Ancient History, The Ancient World, and Apeiron.

His critically acclaimed book Epictetus and Laypeople: A Stoic Stance toward Non-Stoics explores the understanding that ancient philosophers had towards the vast majority of people at the time, those who had no philosophical knowledge or adherence—laypeople. After exploring how philosophical identity was established in antiquity, this book examines the Stoic philosopher Epictetus, who reflected upon laypeople with remarkable frequency.

How did you become interested in this area?

I came to study ancient philosophy as a historian. Initially, I wrote academic articles on various aspects of Roman society, especially the patron-client relationship. I was planning to complete a doctorate related to the topic but I had an epiphany of sorts. Scholars usually try to write on an area, or a perspective that has not been fully explored. Ancient philosophy was, I realized, one such area. Although the teachings of the philosophical schools have understandably been studied at length, ancient philosophy was more than just a series of intellectual commitments and doctrines. It was also a social movement. Ancient philosophers exhibited the attributes of a community. This aspect of ancient philosophy though has not received much attention.

I became particularly interested in what we could know about the demographics of ancient philosophy. Who was attracted to it? What segments of society were exposed to various levels of philosophical teaching? How did philosophical allegiance change over time and why? These are, I believe, fascinating questions, but they are rarely explored by historians in great depth.

To cut a long story short I started studying the Epicurean school. That resulted in my writing two peer-reviewed journal articles on the philosophy: one on how popular Epicureanism was in Late-Republican Rome, and another on how Epicureanism, rather distinctively, tried to spread its philosophy across ancient society and to reach relatively unlettered people. After that, I had to make a decision. Either keep exploring this topic and write a book on the Epicurean school or take the same sets of questions and look at a different school. I chose the latter and I decided to explore the philosophy of the Stoa. That was, I am pleased to say, a successful research project and it led to my writing the book Epictetus and Laypeople.

Our broader culture does little to let people know that ancient philosophy explores issues that they are interested in, e.g., who should have power in a state, how do I establish what is true…?

Dr. Erlend McGillivary

What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?

For the past few years, I have taught students ancient philosophy as part of a wider ancient history course. We read through parts of Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Nicomedian Ethics, and Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. There are a couple of important ideas I want to impress upon them. Firstly, the value that ancient philosophy has. Often, they have the preconception that ancient philosophy is a needlessly obscure, pointless, arcane subject. Were these texts not assigned as part of a curriculum I doubt they would have ever have picked them up. Our broader culture does little to let people know that ancient philosophy explores issues that they are interested in, e.g., who should have power in a state, how do I establish what is true, what should my guiding principles in life be, is there a creator, how can I control my temper? I’ve never met a student who isn’t interested in exploring at least one of these questions.

The main concepts I teach them is that whatever issue they want to consider, search and see. They might very well tap into a rich stream of philosophical insight about the topic. Secondly, for more academic circles I think my work’s emphasis on viewing ancient philosophy as a social movement is an important one. The schools have fascinating histories that are still to be fully uncovered and detailed.

…make sure that your reasons for studying ancient philosophy are not just purely intellectual ones.

Dr. Erlend McGillivary

What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we
can derive from your work?

Most ancient philosophers were very aware that people might approach philosophy just to look or sound smart. Epictetus, a Stoic philosopher from the first-second century C.E., continually scolds his listeners if he thinks they are just there for intellectual reasons. For example, to one such onlooker, he said: “Why do you dress in a philosopher’s garment that is not yours, and walk around in it, as thieves and robbers who have stolen titles and properties that do not belong to them?” Diss. II.19.28. The point I would make, which other scholars/writers on ancient philosophy have made better than I have (and organizations such as Plato’s Academy do) would be to make sure that your reasons for studying ancient philosophy are not just purely intellectual ones.

Do you have a favorite quote that you use?

A quote that I often tell myself is from a well-regarded first-century philosopher in Rome named Musonius Rufus. To paraphrase he said that “what is difficult to achieve will endure and the discomfort will pass, what you do with pleasure and dishonour, the pleasure will pass but the dishonour will remain.” His advice holds not just for hard work involving our careers but anything that requires effort or nurture to flourish. Be that our occupations, our family life, hobbies etc.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about
what you do?

At the moment probably the best place to find my work is from my academia.edu page. It has many of my articles that are free to read. My book on Epictetus is also thankfully now out in paperback, so it is more readily available to the general public. I’m also co-writing a workbook on logical fallacies which is aimed at high schoolers.

My next big project though is a popular-level book on Epictetus and his world. My aim is to use my knowledge as someone with an interest in Roman history to provide greater context to his lectures and to help readers feel they know him and his world better. For example, the place where he taught, Nicopolis, is one of the largest archaeological sites in Greece. We can actually visit some of the buildings that he references. Some types of coins he mentions in passing that are fairly obscure we have examples of etc. So, for anyone interested in what I am doing I would say wait for that to come out.

Suppose you were able to give a talk or workshop at the original location
of Plato’s Academy, in Athens.

I would be honoured! When I was a PhD student, I was fortunate to spend some time in the British School in Athens. It is fairly close to the Lyceum where various philosophers used to gather, the most famous being Aristotle. It was enthralling to be there. I really felt though that the sites of the schools, e.g. the Lyceum, the Academy, the Stoa, should be more utilized and highlighted. They seemed rather forgotten about, almost ignored and over- grown. I think what Plato’s Academy is doing is wonderful!

Clif Mark: How to Butcher a Masterpiece

Clif Mark is the creator and host of the Good in Theory, a political philosophy podcast that includes a full adaptation of Plato’s Apology and Republic. He did a PhD in political theory at the University of Cambridge and spent a few years as an academic before turning to freelance writing and podcasting. You can find his writing in The AtlanticAeon and CBC Life et alia.

You’ve made a podcast where you perform Plato’s dialogues. Why did you decide to do that instead of just explaining them?

Actually, I do both. The Plato episodes of Good in Theory have explanation and interpretation interspersed with an adaptation of the entire dialogue. The idea is that I’ll set up a piece of dialogue with any important context, then put on a little radio play. I got some actors to help me perform them and set them mood with some authentic ancient music. Then when a scene is done, I’ll come back in and explain what just happened and talk about the philosophical issues it raises. So it’s a mix of both.

Also, the podcast isn’t just about Plato. It’s a political theory podcast that was supposed to start with Republic. The thing is—and I should have predicted this—I got carried away and wound-up spending nearly two years on Plato. I’ve moved on though.

To actually show the drama and humour of the dialogues, I felt I had to rewrite them.

Clif Mark

But you don’t just perform the dialogues as they’re written. You adapted them into modern English. Why?

It sounds a little like you’re asking why I would butcher a masterpiece. But that’s ok, because that’s exactly what I’ve done. You lose a lot in my adaptations of Apology and Republic, but I also hope that you also gain something.

Plato wrote dialogues, not treatises. They’re full of drama and humour and emotion and getting that across is essential to understanding what’s going on. The secondary literature’s always talking about “attending to the dramatic nature of the text” and so on.

But all that drama and humour can get buried because the texts are so difficult to read. I’m not going to deny that Plato was a literary genius. But if he was, he was a literary genius for Athenian ears. They weren’t written for us and it’s work to read these books. If you stick to it, the work will pay off. But all that labour tends to hide all the drama and humour I’m talking about. You’re not going to spontaneously laugh at a surprising turn in conversation if you have to read the same sentence three times and refer to two footnotes.

To actually show the drama and humour of the dialogues, I felt I had to rewrite them. I abridged the text and translated the translations—I don’t know ancient Greek—into “Normal Human English.” Again, I leave out a lot. But at least what I made was written for our modern ears and, I hope, can slip into our minds more easily than the more literal translations.

My text is also easier to act. My actors really try to express what the characters are doing. You hear when Glaucon gets excited about ideas or when Thrasymachus is boasting and seething. I don’t think we  could have managed that with, for example, Allan Bloom’s translation.

In short, I butchered Plato’s masterpieces for the same reason anyone butchers anything: to make them easier to eat.


What did you learn from the process of adapting it?

I think I learned how little of these books I’d previously understood, especially Republic. I’d read it several times and even taught the text in universities. But even if you’re writing about Plato, it’s really easy just to stick to the bits you find interesting—the key quotes, the relevant passages. It’s all guided by the question you’re trying to answer.

But since I was adapting the entire dialogue for the podcast, I couldn’t skip anything. I had to decide what I thought every sentence meant. This gave me a much more comprehensive understanding of the book and revealed angles I’d never seen before. It’s probably a fraction of what happens when you actually translate a book but it was still a transformative reading for me. If you want to get something new out of Plato, try performing him.

What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?

If you get very interested in philosophy, you may be poor, but you will not lack for interesting projects. But you probably already know that from Socrates.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?

Obviously, just go listen to the podcast. I also do some writing in outlets like Aeon which you can check out, but the main thing is the podcast.

If you want to learn more about Plato and about podcasting, I’d recommend adapting one yourself. It’ll completely change your relationship to the text. Then e-mail me and tell me all about it! I don’t have many people to talk to about that.

Do you have a favourite quote from Plato?

No. There are too many. Even in Republic there are too many.

I always liked when Socrates says that the philosopher “lives 729 times more pleasantly, while the tyrant lives more disagreeably.” It’s puzzling and silly and I’m sure he’s trolling Glaucon and Adeimantus. And I think it’s funny that they play along with him.

Oh, and I also love the part in Apology where Socrates suggests that his penalty should be free lunch for life. It’s such a spectacular middle finger to his jury. It’s Socrates on maximum troll but heroic at the same time. That Socrates can do genuinely moving martyrdom while being ironic and hilarious is true genius.

Suppose you were able to give a talk or workshop at the original location of Plato’s Academy, in Athens.

I would love that.  This is one of the great holy sites for anyone who loves philosophy and I’ve never been.