I’m honestly embarrassed to admit that I bought this book.
I haven’t finished reading it. So maybe there’s some useful information in there somewhere. But I find self-help books to a pimple on the ass of the literary world.
I’m sure the author thinks that this is some philosophical commentary and not self-help. But really it’s just some bourgeois armchair philosophizing, which is how stoicism often comes across to me.
While I don’t consider myself a leftist (all political and religious ideologies require a healthy dose of skepticism) I do agree that there is a large portion of our lives that we have no control over. Even our preferences are largely predetermined by external circumstances. Free will is often recognizing this which then leads to angst, anxiety, and even suffering.
Following this line of reasoning, one might conclude that stoicism would help alleviate that pain. And it actually might to a certain degree. My primary beef with stoicism, and it’s current usage in the zeitgeist and world of self-help, is that it could actually contribute to one’s own delusion by masking real and justified emotional responses to very REAL problems.
It’s kinda akin to Jordan Peterson’s advice to “clean your room.” That’s basically “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic”…and that idiom is the thrust behind self-help books.
I dunno, this is probably just a pedantic problem that I’ve created in my head. But if you’re in need of Axial-Age sage advice, I’ve personally found Buddhism…stripped of its spiritual and religious elements…to be far more useful as it teaches abstract thinking and encourages you to accept that the only constant in the universe is change.
The above interview is probably one of the the better, honest discussions I’ve seen in awhile regarding the nature of current politics.
It echoes my “everything is ideology” ranting, but Jonathon Gottschall takes it a step further: our ideology-making at the macro/political level amounts to nothing more than immersive storytelling.
Ideology, even ideological storytelling, can sometimes unite societies, but persistent vilification of fellow citizens will ultimately tear it down. With the internet, the “gatekeepers” of knowledge are gone, so it’s up to us to be skeptical…and humble…about the narratives we tell ourselves.
That’s really the only option we have.
So now comes the hard part of apologizing to those we vilified, and then the even harder part of forgiving those that vilified us.
I recommend watching the entire interview. If you have a right-wing or conservative perspective, you might think they’re dunking on you at the beginning, but they eventually turn that skepticism on their conversation and themselves.
He’s an excellent biblical scholar, but a little too conservative for my tastes as a historian. This occurred to me while I was watching him get ambushed by both Christians and atheists during a Zoom call.
If I’m correct in my understanding…and remember I’m a dumbass…then Ehrman’s argument regarding our access to the original intentions of the New Testament texts are completely lost. We cannot know what “Mark”, for example, originally wrote. Not only would this be true for all biblical texts, but virtually ALL ancient texts as well.
In my view, this is an extreme form of skepticism which throws our understanding of history out the window. The entire historical record would be in jeopardy, a point which Ehrman himself seemingly concedes (unless, of course, the record can be confirmed by other sources i.e. archeological, DNA, etc.)
I guess this sounds extreme-having to take the accuracy of ancient historical accounts basically on faith (especially when they sound plausible, but lack supporting evidence)-but what other option do we have until the facts prove otherwise?
I suppose this line of reasoning is how Ehrman can reconcile his certainty that Jesus existed with his extreme skepticism of the historical accuracy of the Gospels.