My review of the book Being Better: Stoicism for a World Worth Living In

This book remains consistent with Stoicism while also expanding our concerns towards the environment.

I’ve really enjoyed this book. It’s a great read for people new to Stoic philosophy and for people who have had a long-time interest in the philosophy.

I like that this book does the good thing and contrasts Stoicism with Aristotle off the bat and discusses how Aristotle thinks that people should meet certain material/biological qualifications to live the good life, whereas the Stoics basically require nothing for people to reach the good life.

I learned a lot of great things about Cato the Younger that cast him in a better light especially with regard to his interactions with Cicero. There were definitely some things I learned about Cicero that I didn’t know before; things about his character.

I like that virtue is defined as a form of knowledge that shapes one’s character. This idea is borrowed from Christopher Gill. And it’s consistent with the Socratic idea of virtue as a form of knowledge.

You can tell that this book is not deviating from the essence or core of the Stoic teachings. It’s already explaining what Stoicism is that is consistent with the whole philosophy. In my mind, the book doesn’t actually add anything new to Stoicism but simply elucidates the concepts to a modern audience and reveals their applicability even now.

The Stoics were concerned with nature and the harmony of the universe. So they would’ve been particularly concerned with the environment. It’s important to realize that the industrial revolution made our environmental impact greater and, so, it’s hard to imagine that the Stoics wouldn’t also be concerned with how we treat the world around us. I like that this book doesn’t deviate from the core teachings of Stoic philosophy and uses it to help us apply it to modern problems that involve everything from fossil fuels to factory farming.

I like the real examples of people who exhibited Stoic characters like Katherine Gun and Pat Tillman and Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks. Many people know about Tillman and Parks but they know little about Gun and Colvin and it’s important that you know them as well. You should certainly read all their stories. How they had really great characters and stood up to injustices. I’m not uncomfortable calling people Stoics who don’t necessarily subscribe to the philosophy itself (or are unaware). Largely because I think Stoicism describes human nature and so we all do have a predisposition to virtue anyway. Kids can recognize kindness and fairness at an early age. A lot of the values we teach today in elementary education are basic Stoic virtues. Because Stoic virtues are human virtues. The philosophy of Stoicism should theoretically just speed up people’s maturation into being fully rational human beings.

By Jess W

JW has a B.A. in Philosophy from Drury University. JW has practiced philosophy for years after graduating Drury U, though he hasn't pursued philosophy as a career of choice. JW eventually learned what Stoicism was really all about and decided to adopt virtually all of its precepts. It's served JW well and has helped him through his journey through a life of ups and downs.

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