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Think like a Stoic: Ancient Wisdom for Today's World

Discover how to think and act like a Stoic with this eye-opening introduction to one of the ancient world's most important-and practical-schools of philosophy.
Think like a Stoic: Ancient Wisdom for Today's World is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 72.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent I believe to learn more about this excellent program, I have to watch it again. There are lot information for me to learn and practice. I will try every day to put in practice what I learn today. Thank you very much to the professor Mr. Massimo for his excellent work
Date published: 2024-06-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from heavy accent This course sounds like it would be interesting. When I moved from New Jersey to the mountains of southern Virginia it seemed some of the people were speaking another language. Their Appalachian accent made it sound to me as though they had marbles in their mouth and I had to guess what they were saying. I think this lecturer said he was raised in Italy and his accent is thick and heavy. Good luck understanding what he is saying.
Date published: 2024-04-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I May Watch Again First a couple caveats. Professor Massimo Pigliucci has a bit of an accent, but after a few minutes it became a non-issue. Truthfully, his English, grammatically and idiomatically, is better than my particular Southern dialect. Second caveat: This is not a casual watch. Some Wondrium courses can be watched without devoting 100 percent of your attention to them. This is not one of them. The professor makes you think. I have had very little exposure to the philosophy of Stoicism. As he stated, I thought it was about keeping a stiff upper lip. I had read Marcus Aurelius’ ”Meditations”. If I were being honest I did not get a lot out of it. I am going to go back and reread it after this. I also have the urge to read the other Stoic philosophers presented in this course. Professor Pigliucci does a wonderful job presenting the various foundational Stoics. He presents a lot of their quotes or passages from their works that he then dissects to point of easy understanding. I have more familiarity with Buddhism. As I watched the course, I keep thinking about the similarities of the two philosophical approaches to life. This was a point he reinforced towards the end of the units. If I have a gripe it is that at times he was a bit redundant, presenting the same passage/quote multiple times over the 25 units. My other vague gripe is that the final unit on applying Stoicism to everyday life did not quite do it for me. He presented in a Dear Abbey style format that seemed a bit strange. All in all a very good course that I enjoyed. I may let it settle a while and go back and watch it again. There is a lot of meat on this bone, and will take a couple passes to digest it all.
Date published: 2024-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! I have read many books on Stoicism and already knew some of the details, but this program offered so much that I was not aware of. The speaker, Massimo is excellent and well spoken. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2023-12-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Like many Wondrium and Great Courses lectures, as a woman I often feel left out as women have been rendered invisible through much of recorded history and as I listen, I often wonder how different some of our views might be. But history has deemed our thoughts and lives as barely important as opposed to the great thinkers, ie: men's take on reality and how they rule the world. How well has it worked in the world, all this pontificating on virtuous life? I think the lecturer is knowledgeable and as an avid learner and thinker, I am always hungry for wisdom. But.......our world is so much poorer for the way women have been relegated to inferiority to bolster the superiority of male thought, male rule, male pontificating. I supposed some of you who read this review, if you read it, will label me some disparaging term so as to dismiss me and the ideas of women. So be it. I cannot change your perspective. Only you can. So I will continue to listen to Wondrium and the Great Courses but with some frustration and sadness.
Date published: 2023-10-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting but very repititious I thought there was something wrong with the audio player. Some lectures have large stretches copied 1:1 from earlier lectures, where I genuinely thought I had accidentally restarted an older lecture. I'm honestly on the verge of quitting the rest of the series because I don't want to rehearse the same subjects over and over again, though this technically helps with retention.
Date published: 2023-09-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A good course with occasional distractions. This course is a treasure trove of valuable information. It is mostly well organized and almost always interesting. However, I only gave three stars because I grew absolutely weary trying to sort out what the ancients actually said from the professor's views of what he thinks they meant or what they ought to have said. He interjects his own personal opinion and occasional snide invective (e.g. blanket derision of the rich as "robber barons") so frequently thoughout the series that listening to the course is like riding down the highway enjoying the scenery when the driver every now and then suddenly swerves without warning or explanation. If this were a train we'd say it had derailed, but as a series of lectures I'll only say, as much as I enjoyed learning about the ancient Stoics, I found the course overly tinged with the professor's opinions on modern American politics. It doesn't matter that I mostly agree with those opinions. I want to hear what Epictetus and Seneca said, in the context of their own times, and not what Massimo thinks they would say if they were living in New York today. All in all, the course was worth the price I paid and I'll surely revisit it periodically in the future for refresher lessons, but in this reviewer's opinion, it was only an average offering from the Teaching Company, failed to live up to its promise, and therefore warrants only three stars.
Date published: 2023-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What I Have Been Looking For Having read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (a couple of times), there has been this need to learn more about stoicism. Then out of the blue comes this course with his picture on it. I am grateful for the course, experience and the recommended reading. My journey has only begun.
Date published: 2023-05-31
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Discover how to think and act like a Stoic with this eye-opening introduction to one of the ancient world's most important-and practical-schools of philosophy.


Massimo Pigliucci

I would like to invite you to join me on an engaging journey to discover the heart of stoicism, one of the most fascinating and eye-opening philosophies you can study.


The City University of New York

Massimo Pigliucci is the K. D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at The City University of New York. He holds a PhD in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which recognized him for his major contributions to studies of gene-environment interactions and his educational efforts to counter widespread pseudoscientific beliefs.

Massimo has published more than 170 peer-reviewed papers and authored or edited 14 books, including Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk and Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem (with Maarten Boudry). He studies and practices Stoicism and is the author of several books on the subject, including How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

Massimo has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, and he has been interviewed by PBS, BBC World Service, NBC News, The Boston Globe, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Newsweek, The Economist, Forbes, WIRED, and Scientific American. He has also made a guest appearance on The Colbert Report. He produces a podcast called Stoic Meditations, and his writings and musings can be found at

By This Professor

Think like a Stoic: Ancient Wisdom for Today's World
Think like a Stoic: Ancient Wisdom for Today's World


How to Live like a Stoic Sage

01: How to Live like a Stoic Sage

Start with an introduction to the basics of Stoic philosophy, which puts an emphasis on living reasonably and pro-socially, and which teaches us to live according to nature. You’ll also get a taste of the two pillars of this ancient school of thought: the four cardinal virtues and the dichotomy of control.

29 min
Stoicism from Heraclitus to Thoreau

02: Stoicism from Heraclitus to Thoreau

How has Stoic philosophy evolved over time? First, you’ll place Stoicism among its rivals and influences, including major Hellenistic schools of thought like Epicureanism and Cynicism. Then, follow the course of Stoic philosophy and themes through minds like Seneca, Thomas Aquinas, Baruch Spinoza, and the transcendentalism of Henry David Thoreau.

28 min
The Stoic Garden: Physics, Ethics, Logic

03: The Stoic Garden: Physics, Ethics, Logic

The ancient Stoics used a number of metaphors to get their points across, including the metaphor of the garden, whose elements were physics, ethics, and logic. Here, compare how Aristotle and the Stoics thought of logic, and use a story that dates back to the 2nd century BCE to see how Stoic epistemology and psychology are intertwined.

26 min
How Stoics Understand Providence

04: How Stoics Understand Providence

Stoics’s thoughts on providence were much different than Christians would later think of it. Consider three interrelated notions of Stoic thinking that constitute three important aspects of their metaphysics: materialism, cause-effect, and determinism. In the process, you’ll gain a new perspective on an old chestnut in metaphysics and moral philosophy: the problem of free will.

27 min
Using Stoic Ethics to Achieve Happiness

05: Using Stoic Ethics to Achieve Happiness

In this lesson, examine what is arguably the most important part of Stoic philosophy: ethics. How do we differentiate between ancient and modern conceptions of what is ethical? How do we define the cardinal virtues of practical wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance, and how can we translate them into everyday practice today?

27 min
The Stoics on Desire and Discipline

06: The Stoics on Desire and Discipline

In the first of three lessons on how to practice Stoicism as described by Epictetus, learn through a series of engaging exercises how to train your desires and aversions. By bringing attention to the issues outlined here, you’ll help realign your wants with what’s important—and what’s truly within your control.

25 min
The Stoics on Interacting with Others

07: The Stoics on Interacting with Others

Human beings are eminently social creatures; we have no choice but to negotiate relationships with other human beings. Explore the Stoic discipline of action through exercises that train you how to “keep your peace of mind in mind,” how to deal with insults, how to handle difficult people, and more.

24 min
The Stoics on Decision-Making

08: The Stoics on Decision-Making

According to Epictetus, the discipline of assent, concerned with arriving at correct judgments, is the most difficult to master. Exercises in this lesson draw on examples from Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and other thinkers to highlight tactics for overcoming mental weakness, controlling outbursts of anger, and bringing urges under control.

25 min
Seneca’s Letters to Lucilius

09: Seneca’s Letters to Lucilius

Explore in detail some of the 124 letters Seneca wrote in his last years to his friend Lucilius, which offer an informal curriculum on Stoic philosophy. Through these writings, you’ll consider eye-opening thoughts on managing time, on the high standards of friendships, on feeling joy, on judging others, and on coming to terms with death.

27 min
Seneca on Anger Management

10: Seneca on Anger Management

First, examine the categories into which Stoics divided emotions: involuntary emotional reactions, reactive emotions (like fear), and positive emotions (such as joy). Afterward, turn to what Seneca says about anger, which the Stoics considered the quintessential example of a negative emotion, and uncover an anger management exercise that has helped people for millennia.

27 min
Seneca on Grief and Distress

11: Seneca on Grief and Distress

One crucial test of any philosophy of life is whether it’s helpful in unpleasant, unavoidable situations. Learn how Stoicism passes this test by looking at what Seneca (in three powerful letters of consolation he wrote to friends and family) has to say about the fundamental subjects of grief and distress.

26 min
Epictetus on the Importance of Reason

12: Epictetus on the Importance of Reason

Epictetus is a practical, humorous, no-nonsense philosopher. Get to know this ancient Stoic through the first volume of the Discourses, a major treatise on Stoic philosophy written by one of his most illustrious students. Explore, specifically, Stoic views on cosmopolitanism: the notion that we are all members of the same cosmopolis, or world-city.

26 min
Epictetus on Overcoming Fear

13: Epictetus on Overcoming Fear

Take an in-depth look at the second volume of Discourses, written by Epictetus, with an aim to apply its insights to your own life. What does Epictetus tell us about what’s under our complete control? How do we make sense of the trade-off between material things and family relations? What pieces of wisdom can we use to manage our everyday anxieties?

26 min
Epictetus on Desire, Action, and Judgment

14: Epictetus on Desire, Action, and Judgment

Epictetus employed the concepts of desire, action, and assent as disciplines to understand the entirety of Stoic philosophy. Place these concepts in the historical context during the tyrannical reign of Roman Emperor Domitian, then learn how to use them as a powerful framework through which to lead a better, more meaningful life.

25 min
Epictetus on How to Be Free

15: Epictetus on How to Be Free

According to the Stoics, if you want to live a free life, you have to be the master of your own desires—chiefly by eliminating them. Get philosophical tips on how to do that. This lesson focuses on the fourth and last surviving book of the collected teachings of Epictetus.

28 min
A Manual for the Good Life: The Enchiridion

16: A Manual for the Good Life: The Enchiridion

Epictetus wrote Enchiridion (“a little thing in the hand”) as a practical manual for living how to live what the Greco-Romans considered a worthwhile life. Enchiridion was a well-known text throughout the Middle Ages, into the Renaissance, and beyond. Get to the core of its teachings on how to change your desires and aversions.

28 min
Marcus Aurelius on Being Thankful

17: Marcus Aurelius on Being Thankful

Marcus Aurelius’s mastery of Stoic philosophy helped him navigate frontier wars, a rebellion, and a plague. Examine the first four chapters of Meditations, which describe exercises in gratitude and contemplations on adversity and death. His most interesting— and misunderstood—idea was: “The universe is transformation; life is opinion.”

28 min
Marcus Aurelius, Virtue, and the Vineyard

18: Marcus Aurelius, Virtue, and the Vineyard

Now, turn to highlights from the next four chapters of Meditations. You‘ll consider the Stoic sense of duty, an analogy involving vineyards that captures our desire for praise and our fear of criticism, the inevitability of change, the lust for fame, and other human traits.

28 min
Marcus Aurelius on Managing Turmoil

19: Marcus Aurelius on Managing Turmoil

How can we best practice Stoicism during times of turmoil in our lives? This lesson describes the last four chapters of Meditations. Explore how not to catastrophize, how to be mindful of labels, and how to practice a sunrise exercise that goes back to the 6th century BCE.

27 min
From Stoic Self-Mastery to Cosmopolitanism

20: From Stoic Self-Mastery to Cosmopolitanism

What do the Stoics say about our diets, or the furniture in our houses, or the proper lengths of a man’s beard? These are some of the many topics you’ll explore in this fascinating conversation that revolves around one of the most influential of Stoics, and least-known: Gaius Musonius Rufus.

27 min
Drawing Inspiration from Stoic Role Models

21: Drawing Inspiration from Stoic Role Models

Role models are a crucial aspect in the practice of Stoicism. First, meet two individuals Seneca suggested his contemporaries should model themselves after: Cato and Gaius Laelius Sapiens. Then, consider contemporary role models—real and imagined—who fit the Stoic concept, including Nelson Mandela and Spider-Man.

28 min
How Stoics Bear Responsibility and Conflict

22: How Stoics Bear Responsibility and Conflict

We all play different roles throughout our lives, each of which naturally produces conflict, such as, the role of parent or friend. Learn how to recognize the call for different roles in your life by following four criteria laid down by Epictetus, including considering your social relations and listening for a “divine” sign.

29 min
Misusing and Misunderstanding Stoicism

23: Misusing and Misunderstanding Stoicism

Do Stoics move through life with stiff upper lips? Is Stoicism all about suppressing emotions? Can Stoicism help make you rich and famous? Here, look at some of the common misconceptions about Stoicism, how they diverge from the philosophy’s intent, and what we can learn from them.

29 min
Stoicism for Everyday Life

24: Stoicism for Everyday Life

Why would anyone living today wish to become a Stoic? Professor Pigliucci answers this question by comparing Stoicism with three other philosophies of life you’ve probably heard of: Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism. He then reveals how his own practice of Stoicism has helped him in his life.

30 min
Four Family Problems and Stoic Solutions

25: Four Family Problems and Stoic Solutions

In this final lesson, unpack four examples of personal crises in contemporary life that reveal just how helpful Stoicism can be in guiding our everyday thoughts and practices. What can you learn from a struggling adult child, a home-maintenance mishap, a tormented married couple, and a father’s terminal illness?

19 min