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.

Dr. Richard Carrier: What Is True

Richard Carrier, Ph.D., is a philosopher and historian with degrees from Berkeley and Columbia, specializing in the contemporary philosophy of naturalism and Greco-Roman philosophy, science, and religion, including the origins of Christianity. He blogs and lectures worldwide, teaches monthly courses online through his website, and is the author of many books, including his defense of a naturalist worldview in Sense and Goodness without God, his academic case for the non-existence of Jesus in On the Historicity of Jesus, as well as his colloquial summary in Jesus from Outer Space, his work on historical methodology in Proving History, his study of ancient science in both Science Education and The Scientist in the Early Roman Empire, his responses to 21st century Christian apologetics in Why I Am Not a Christian and Not the Impossible Faith, and an anthology of his papers on the subject of history in Hitler Homer Bible Christ.

He has also authored chapters in many other books, and articles in magazines and academic journals, and on his namesake blog, covering subjects from politics and history to philosophy and social justice.

Dr. Carrier’s latest book, Jesus from Outer Space: What the Earliest Christians Really Believed about Christ, has been called “Carrier’s best, most engaging, and readable work yet.” by author David Fitzgerald.

His most pertinent title, however, is Sense and Goodness without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism.

For more about Dr. Carrier and his work see www.richardcarrier.info.

The goal we all should have is to have a complete, coherent worldview that is thoroughly evidence-based rather than built on mere desires and speculations, much less uninformed traditions. 

Dr. Richard Carrier

How did you become interested in this area?

I became a devout Taoist in high school, and by the time I was completing military service at sea years later I had come to realize Taoism was just as false a religion as any other. And yet Taoism was a complete, coherent, organized worldview of immense utility to me in understanding oneself and the world. So, when I was losing my faith I began asking, well, then, what is true? I immediately began writing notes and research plans for my first book, which a decade later became Sense and Goodness without God, a complete modernized worldview covering all the main branches of philosophy, from semantics and epistemology to metaphysics, aesthetics, morality, and politics, showing how they are all inextricably interrelated and inform each other. Those areas of study cannot be pursued in isolation from each other. The goal we all should have is to have a complete, coherent worldview that is thoroughly evidence-based rather than built on mere desires and speculations, much less uninformed traditions. 

At the same time as all of that, I was getting more involved in movement atheism and counter-apologetics, where questions of philosophy not only came up for study and investigation a lot, but where having well-founded solutions to all the major questions was of inestimable value in exploding false worldviews, both religious and secular. The mutual drive to build a complete, evidence-based worldview, and to continually question it to ensure its accuracy and coherence, was thus further inspired as my continual goals of defeating false belief systems and building and hewing my life to the worldview that could claim the greatest probability of being true given the information available to us.

A third track inspiring this life goal was my profession as a historian, which I acquired in graduate school after military service. I studied methodology and soon discovered that we need a coherent, defensible epistemology of history. This led to Proving History, my first peer reviewed monograph in the philosophy of history. But it became apparent that what I had learned of worldview theory applied here as well: you can’t construct a valid epistemology or methodology of history without working out where things stand in every other branch of philosophy, from semantics and epistemology generally, to, again, metaphysics and aesthetics, even morality and politics. Thus, the pursuit of philosophy became just as important to my career as a historian.

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

Besides what I already discussed, the fact that all fundamental branches of philosophy must be well studied to get correct conclusions in any one of them, the next most important idea I aim to convey to everyone is that critical thinking, which is essential to having reliable beliefs, rests on a counter-intuitive foundational principle that the only way to know whether you are right about anything, whether any belief you have is true, is to make every honest and powerful effort to prove it false. Because it is only by failing to do that that you can ever have a justified confidence that any belief is true. If all you do instead is aim to “verify” your beliefs, rather than falsify them, your beliefs will never be reliable.

“…the truth resides in the particulars…”

Dr. Richard Carrier

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

Always start with actual particulars and build abstractions and generalizations from them; never just start with abstractions and generalizations and reason from there. Because the truth resides in the particulars, and if you skip a careful study of those, it is too easy to leap to abstractions and generalizations that are inaccurate or false or fail to reliably track reality. So, of every philosophy problem or question, always ask, “What is a real-world example of this?” and then go and collect as many of those real examples as you can, and study the question from there. And this means not hypothetical examples (so-called “thought experiments”; as useful, albeit perilous, as they may be), but actual ones. Actual real things, affecting actual real lives. Always ground your philosophy in reality. That is the only way to ensure it tracks reality.

Do you have a favorite quote that you use?

I don’t typically argue by quotation. But I have coined a few bon mots that I find myself having to repeat quite a lot, because they keep being pertinent. Perhaps top of that list is, “You can’t change what a thing is by changing what you call it.”

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

To learn more about my philosophy, the first place to start would be my books Sense and Goodness without God and Proving History, and my website’s categories drop-down menu (at richardcarrier.info) has several options in that subject, including just simply “philosophy.” There is also an article there, my Typos List for Sense and Goodness without God, which besides basic corrections includes an outline of what changes there have been in my philosophy since that book was published. 

But if one wants to become a philosopher in their own right, also on my website (among the top margin menus) I provide a starter list of recommended readings for anyone who wants to get their own start as a philosopher, by which I mean for the purpose of building one’s own reliable worldview; actually being a philosopher, as opposed to pursuing philosophy as a profession. The latter I typically don’t recommend, as it doesn’t pay well and buries your life in tasks almost none of which consist of actually doing philosophy, and academia has a tendency to destroy the creativity and breadth of interest in anyone immersed in it. Most “professional” philosophers too often end up narrowing their interests and pursuing them with blinders on rather than building worldviews or devoting their pursuit to practical application in human lives. 

Philosophy should be your religion, your devotional faith-pursuit. And though one can do that and pursue it professionally at the same time, counter-intuitively, you might find it easier to do if your professional life were consumed in a more productive passion, and philosophy were your personal life-project.

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

Well, of course that would be an experience worth having. But really, I’d just use it as an opportunity to explore ancient history roundabout, as my Columbia University dissertation was on the social and intellectual history of ancient Greco-Roman science, philosophy, and religion. So I’d be even more excited to visit important artifacts of the era, from the Antikythera Mechanism at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, to the inscriptions and ruins of the great temple hospice of Asclepius in Epidaurus. 

In light of that, if I did lecture at the original site of the Academy, I would probably speak on ancient contributions to the modern epistemology of science, and how only some of Plato’s students went on to make real progress on that, and by largely rejecting most of Plato’s ideas in philosophy—most prominently, Aristotle. I think it would be a living act of poetry to lecture on this point at the Academy, and then lecture the next day on Aristotle’s legacy through his successor Strato at the original site of the Lyceum that both men once ran!

Matthew Sharpe: The Only True Good

Matthew Sharpe is Associate Professor of philosophy at Deakin University, Australia.  He has taught philosophy for over two decades, and is the author of multiple books, including most recently Stoicism, Bullying, and Beyond (in press, 2022), The Other Enlightenment (in press, 2022), and (with Michael Ure), Philosophy as a Way of Life: History, Dimensions, Directions (Bloomsbury, 2021).  He is also the cotranslator of Pierre Hadot, Selected Writings: Philosophy as Practice (Bloomsbury, 2021), and someone whose work continues to centre upon ancient philosophy as a way or ways of life, and the ways it can still speak to people transformatively today.

How did you become interested in this area?

Like many young people, I became interested in philosophy out of existential concerns.  I then studied philosophy academically for many years, up to my PhD (on Slavoj Zizek).  I was especially interested, as I still am, in psychoanalytic theory.  Because it brings theoretical reflection to bear on understanding people, and also in affecting changes in their lives.  Much of academic philosophy doesn’t do this.  It was only after my PhD, when I discovered the work of Pierre Hadot, that I returned to ancient philosophy as a way (or ways) of life.  Since that time, I’ve been interested most of all in working on Stoic philosophy.  It was a real pleasure and surprise to me around 2014 or so, when I discovered that many other people around the world were covering similar paths, and that the Modern Stoicism movement was beginning to grow.       

 It is what a person does with what fortune delivers him, the opportunities and hazards, that makes that person, and enables them to live well or badly. 

Matthew Sharpe

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

I think the most important idea I teach students (not all of them agree) would be the core Socratic-Stoic idea that virtue is the only true good.  All of the other things our societies teach us to value as essential to have or avoid can either harm a person or help them: think of money or public office, for examples.  It is what a person does with what fortune delivers him, the opportunities and hazards, that makes that person, and enables them to live well or badly.  This idea strikes me as really profound.  Think of how many people argue that religious belief or observance is the only truly necessary thing, and then contrast that with the history of religions, which is full of so much bloodshed, hatred and prejudice, as well as the wonderful things different world religions have delivered people.  

Virtue alone never harms the person who has it—that is, following Plato, wisdom, moderation, courage, and justice.  The attributes are not easy to achieve, and people can still rationalise bad behavior as virtuous.  But the fundamental idea, of one thing in the universe that always benefits us, is a really important one to introduce students to.  I wish I had learned of it many years earlier in my own life than in fact I did.

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

I have just completed Stoicism, Bullying, and Beyond (2022, Balboa-Hay Press), so perhaps I will answer this one by talking about this book I am just finalising.  The most important idea in that book is related to the idea of virtue as the only true good.  Here, it is the idea from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations (VI, 6) that the best revenge is not to become like the person who would harm you.  That quote is a epigraph for the book, alongside the opening verse of Rudyard Kipling’s “If”, which seems to have been written as if Kipling had himself experienced what experts today call “mobbing”—basically being ganged up on in a workplace by bullies who lead with false accusations and rumors to try to blacken a colleague’s reputation. But:

If you can keep your head when all about you  

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,  

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

    But make allowance for their doubting too;  

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

then, following these broadly Stoic and Socratic guides, you can survive and even thrive, despite this negative experience.  

The book is about explaining basic Stoic ethical and therapeutic ideas to mobbing or bulling targets.  Then, drawing on these principles, I set out a program of spiritual exercises they can draw on, firstly to take care of their psychological wellbeing in a situation in which their workplace has become unsafe, and secondly, centre themselves so they make the best decisions, and premeditate the different challenges involved in either taking legal action, or leaving their present job.  This is the first book of practical philosophy I’ve written, which adapts Stoic (and thus Socratic) ideas to a real-life situation too many people face, and which many are completely unprepared for.  But Stoicism, as a Socratic philosophy, is about how to best get through adversity, as well as prosperity.  So, I’m very proud of the book, and I hope that it reaches people and can assist them.

The Practical Stoic Podcast w. Simon J. E. Drew

Do you have a favorite quote that you use?

From Marcus Aurelius, as well as that the best revenge is not to be like the person who harms you, I love the maxim (in XI, 18, perhaps) that “benevolence is invincible”.  Someone once said that great adversity either makes a person very bitter, or very generous or, as the ancients might have said, great-souled.  At some level, though, if you can accept even being hated or disappointed, without becoming cynical, and without becoming hateful, that seems to me to be a fine thing.  Easy to say, hard to do, but always worth striving for.  If I am thinking of quotes that I will almost always use, though, it would have to be Socrates’ justification in Plato, when someone suggests that he can be released from prison on condition that he cease doing philosophy.  Socrates replies:

Men of Athens, I honour and love you; but I shall obey God rather than you, and while I have life and strength I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy, exhorting any one whom I meet and saying to him after my manner: You, my friend,—a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens,—are you not ashamed of heaping up the greatest amount of money and honour and reputation, and caring so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all? … For I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or your properties, but first and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man, public as well as private. This is my teaching, and if this is the doctrine which corrupts the youth, I am a mischievous person.


For me, all of Stoicism is already here, in Plato or in Socrates.  And the entire philosophical tradition after Socrates is arguably oriented by this extraordinary self-defence, and defence of philosophy as teaching people to take care of the soul.

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

If the question is asking about someone who wants to know about philosophy more widely, then they could do worse than opening Plato’s Apology, or his Gorgias or even perhaps the Republic.  But people are drawn into philosophy for different reasons, and in different ways.  The novels of Dostoevsky, for example, or of many other more recent novelists prompt readers to ask many philosophical questions.  For myself, reading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations at an especially difficult time in my personal life was life-changing, and I think that it still a book that can speak to people everywhere who are facing life challenges. 

For my own work, I don’t tend to think of this question too much, thinking myself as a tiny drop or at most a rivulet in a concourse of rivers, at the least.  I have written popular articles on Stoicism in The Conversation, however.  I also maintain a blog, called “Castalian Stream”, where I write a lot on Stoicism, Plato, Bacon, and other subjects which appeal to me.  For anyone who may be, or may have, faced workplace or schoolyard bullying, of course, Stoicism, Bullying, and Beyond is directed at people who may be coming to philosophy for the first time, and have next to no prior ideas about it.

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

It would be a tremendous honor, of course.  It is a wonderful initiative to try to bring life to the archaeological site, which I have visited several times in the 2010s, as I travelled frequently to Greece before covid in connection with my teaching, family connections on the island of Naxos, and then for Stoicon 2019, just before the pandemic came.  There was something remarkable about this site, the origin of almost all higher education in the Western world, being left for so many centuries almost unremarked, with stones not much higher than your knees, so the visitor had to struggle in their minds to try to get some picture of what the place must have been like when Plato first taught there, or even when Cicero visited in the first century CE.  I am sure Plato himself, or indeed Cicero his admirer, would wish that the site be commemorated as it ought to be, and that is by becoming once again a place for philosophy and the pursuit of knowledge.