SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: That’s the Spirit! The Stoic Philosophy of Pneuma

While the ancient philosophy of Stoicism is experiencing a comeback, many are still unfamiliar with some of its more esoteric concepts, like the role of pneuma or spirit in cosmology. The primal stuff of the cosmos - informing matter and mind at different levels of tension - for the Stoics, pneuma is the alpha and omega, the beginning and end of the cosmos. Today on MindMatters, we take a look at some of the basics of Stoic cosmology, how it informs their ethics, and the role it had on early Christian theology, specifically in the letters of Paul. For Paul the Holy Spirit actually has more in common with the Stoic Divine Pneuma than you might think, and has some far-out implications for what Paul thought about things like the "resurrection", "pneumatic" bodies, and the growth of knowledge and being....

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The story of the camel, the lion, and the child: Nietzsche’s three steps to a meaningful life

In 1882, Friedrich Nietzsche was a man who had known the depths of despair. Nietzsche had lived with a number of health problems, mental health issues, and post-traumatic stress syndrome from serving as a medical orderly in the Franco-Prussian War (during which he had also contracted diphtheria and dysentery). The final straw was that the woman he loved deeply, whom he had proposed to a number of times, had abandoned him. Nietzsche was an extraordinarily gifted young man. He had studied for a PhD while still a teenager and was awarded a tenured professorship at the remarkably young age of 24. In the late 1860s the budding philosopher also excelled as a horseman and soldier. He was fated, it seemed, to be made a captain in the Prussian military but a riding accident and his failing eyesight (which made him...

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12 things I see happy people do (that unhappy people do not)

I have been thinking a lot about happiness of late, partially because so many people seem unhappy. I think that was my first epiphany upon entering the world of Social Media; people are unhappy and there are a lot of them. Now don't get me wrong, we all know some people who wouldn't be happy, were they not unhappy but I am not talking about them. We will just let them be. I am also not thinking theologically here (i.e. juxtaposing happiness and joy), today I am going to err on the practical and pragmatic side of things. With that being said, let's get going. I think most people want to be happy; they are just not quite sure how to get there from their present location. Many people honestly believe that happiness is a lucky bounce; a sunny disposition...

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Advice from Marcus Aurelius: A stoic way to start the day

Marcus Aurelius, emperor of Rome and a philosopher, wrote a series of reflections in his personal journal. They were never meant for publication, but what has come to be known as his Meditations is a classic work. It has been influential among not only philosophers, but politicians, leaders, and other interested readers. In Book 2, Marcus writes about several things that we should say to ourselves to start the day: "...today, I shall meet people who are meddling, ungrateful, aggressive, treacherous, malicious, and unsocial." He goes on to say that it is their ignorance of the true nature of good and evil that leads them to act in these ways. But he highlights our common humanity, that human beings share "the same mind, the same fragment of divinity." He concludes this meditation as follows: "We were born for cooperation, like...

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