The Practicing Stoic:

A Philosophical User's Manual

Stoicism is the most helpful and practical philosophy ever devised. Its intention is to help people find happiness by thinking differently about their lives and their problems. The advice the Stoics provided centuries ago is still the best anyone has offered, and it’s as useful today as it was then—or more. When anyone today says something really wise, the Stoics usually said it first. Today the word “stoicism” is often used to mean suffering without complaint, but the true ideas, and ideals, of the Stoics are far more powerful and interesting. Stoicism means knowing the difference between what we can control and we can’t, and not worrying about the latter. The Stoics were masters of perspective, always taking the long view while remembering that life is short. And they were deep and insightful students of human nature, understanding how we manage to make ourselves miserable as well as how we seek and can find fulfillment. The great insights of the Stoics are spread over a wide range of ancient sources. This book brings them all together for the first time. It systematically presents what the various Stoic philosophers said on every important topic, accompanied by an eloquent commentary that is clear and concise. The result is a set of philosophy lessons for everyone—the most valuable wisdom of ages past made available for our times, and for all time.

 

As befits a good Stoic, Farnsworth’s expository prose exhibits both clarity and an unflappable calm… Throughout The Practicing Stoic, Farnsworth beautifully integrates his own observations with scores of quotations from Epictetus, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Montaigne and others. As a result, this isn’t just a book to read—it’s a book to return to, a book that will provide perspective and consolation at times of heartbreak or calamity. — Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

This sturdy and engaging introductory text consists mostly of excerpts from the ancient Greek and Roman Stoic philosophers, especially Seneca (4 BCE–65), Epictetus (c. 55–135) through his student Arrian, and Marcus Aurelius (121–80) as well as that trio’s philosophical confreres, from the earlier Hellenic Stoics and Cicero to such contemporaries as Plutarch to moderns, including Montaigne, Adam Smith, and Schopenhauer… A philosophy to live by, Stoicism may remind many of Buddhism and Quakerism, for it asks of practitioners something very similar to what those disciplines call mindfulness. — Booklist

A charming book, perfect for dipping, in which the calm and settling wisdom of the stoics shines forth with bracing clarity. — The New Criterion

The Practicing Stoic…provides insight, inspiration, and direction by combining ancient wisdom with modern context. That, supplemented with Dean Farnsworth’s own insightful commentary, makes the complex wisdom of these ancient philosophers accessible to everyone. — The American Law Institute

Before his appointment as Dean of The University of Texas School of Law, Ward Farnsworth taught for fifteen years at the Boston University law school, where he also served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Dean Farnsworth is Reporter for the American Law Institute’s Restatement (Third) Torts: Liability for Economic Harm. He is author of Restitution: Civil Liability for Unjust Enrichment, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2014; The Legal Analyst, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2007; and Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric, published by David R. Godine in 2010. He has published scholarly articles on a range of topics in the Columbia Law Review, the University of Chicago Law Review, the Michigan Law Review, and various other journals. He teaches courses on torts, contracts, civil procedure, admiralty, and rhetoric. Dean Farnsworth graduated with high honors from the University of Chicago Law School in 1994, and afterwards served as a law clerk to Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and to Richard A. Posner, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He has also served as Legal Adviser to the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in the Hague.