The Stoic View of the Self
Being in someone else’s shoes
For the Stoics, everything that happens to us seems to have a special significance that the same event wouldn’t have if it happened to someone else. (more...)
The Hermit of Bundala
What is especially intriguing for students of eremitism is the intimate interplay of personal motives and philosophical commitments behind Nanavira’s decision to live alone. (more...)
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
The two lives of a Stoic sage
Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BC-65 AD) was a celebrated Roman writer, public speaker and philosopher and is today seen (alongside Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius) as one of the three greatest ancient Stoics. (more...)
How to stay calm in everyday life
At the core of the Stoic theory of happiness is our ability to control our thoughts. The wise man should try to exercise control over what they can control and not try to control what they cannot. (more...)
What Does ‘Stoic’ Mean?
A short history of Stoicism
A ‘Stoic’ attitude to life aims to achieve lasting happiness by staying calm, rational and emotionally detached, while cultivating one’s virtues. (more...)
Solitude and Contentment
Lessons from hermit lives
Hermits have always lived apart from the societies of their times. But do they have the secret key to happiness? (more...)
Three Modern Hermits
Following one’s own way
We visit three very different hermits: Agafia Lykova in remote Siberia, Mauro Morandi on a Mediterranean island paradise, and Lincolnshire nun Rachel Denton. What unites them and gives their lives meaning? (more...)
The Wisdom of the Dao
Main themes in the Dao De Jing
The Dao De Jing is often not so different from other philosophies of its time. Acting according to nature, virtue as a skill, and the Daoist praise of humility are reminiscent of similar passages in the works of Stoics, Epicureans and Aristotle. (more...)
Gardens of Refuge
From the Garden of Eden to urban allotments, gardens have accompanied and enriched human history and culture from ancient times to now. In this article, Ian James Kidd traces the spiritual history of gardens as places of refuge from the world. (more...)
Robert Rodriguez on Hermits
Robert Rodriguez is the author of The Book of Hermits and founder and editor of the website Hermitary. In this interview, he talks to us about the history of eremitism and the nature of hermit life. (more...)
Robert Rodriguez: The Book of Hermits
Robert Rodriguez’ “The Book of Hermits” is a work of impressive scholarship, covering the global history and lore of eremitism from antiquity to the present. (more...)
Dao De Jing: A Hermit’s Manual
Daoism and the hermit life
The Dao De Jing, one of the main books of Daoism, has always appealed to hermits. In this article, we look at it through a hermit’s eyes. (more...)
Dao De Jing
The Taoist book of the Way
The Dao De Jing, literally “The Classic of the Way and the Virtue,” is traditionally attributed to an author known only as Lao Zi, which means “Old Master.” (more...)
A rhetoric of slowness and speed has been used by philosophers since the ancient periods to characterise and assess different ways of life. (more...)
Huts, Homelessness and Heimat
Chōmei and Heidegger
For Heidegger, we let things be what they are. Chōmei, steeped in the Buddhist conception of the interdependence of everything, would concur. (more...)
The Hermit of Suwarrow
The adventures of Tom Neale (1902-1977)
Tom Neale spent a total of fourteen years alone on a little island in the Suwarrow Atoll in the South Pacific, where he found peace and happiness in solitude. We have a look at this extraordinary life. (more...)
One Hundred Days in a Hermit’s Hut
Jane Dobisz on living alone in the woods
In her honest and entertaining book “One Hundred Days of Solitude: Losing Myself and Finding Grace on a Zen Retreat,” Zen teacher Jane Dobisz recalls the three months she spent as a young person alone in a hut in the woods, bowing, chanting and meditating. (more...)
Hermits and Happiness
The long tradition of leaving it all behind
Hermits, from the Greek “eremites,” (=men of the desert), are found in all cultures and at all times. In this article, we look at the phenomenon of hermit life as a whole, before we go into more detail in future posts in this series. (more...)
Does Gratefulness Work?
The science behind gratitude diaries
Gratefulness has been proposed as a way to increase one’s happiness in life. But does it work? We look at the science of gratitude diaries to find out whether gratefulness has a positive effect on happiness. (more...)
Does Gratefulness Make Happy?
Brother David-Steindl-Rast on gratefulness
Brother David-Steindl-Rast is one of the most prominent advocates of gratefulness as a way of life. In his famous TED talk, he explains how gratefulness and attention lead to a happier life. (more...)
Grateful to No One
How does gratefulness work?
It seems that we should only be grateful for something good done to us. But already the Stoics had seen that sometimes benefits come disguised as burdens. (more...)
What is Gratefulness?
Gratitude, gratefulness and our view of ourselves
One could also say that gratitude is always gratitude to someone, while gratefulness emphasises what we are grateful for, even if there is nobody to be grateful to for that thing. (more...)
Living Epicurus Today
What is a 21st century Epicurean?
So has Epicurean living become so expensive today as to exclude most of us from practising it? Does one need to be rich in order to be able to afford the simple life? (more...)
What Are Friends For?
Epicurus on Friendship
Epicurus’ view on the value of friends has often been romanticised and equally often misunderstood. Here, we discuss Epicurus’ philosophy of friendship. (more...)
What is Luddism?
The challenges of modern technology
Luddism is the thesis that technology must serve human life and that often the use of technologies does not make for better or happier societies. (more...)
Stephanie Mills: Epicurean Simplicity
Is a simple life the key to happiness?
In her book “Epicurean Simplicity,” author and activist Stephanie Mills analyses what is wrong with our modern way of life. (more...)
Epicurus: The Wise Man and the Fool
What’s wrong about being a happy fool?
The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus once wrote that “the misfortune of the wise is better than the prosperity of the fool.” But why would that be so? It becomes clearer when we look at Epicurus’ theory of desires. (more...)
It’s A New Sun Every Day
Heraclitus and Epicurus on accepting change
The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously said that one cannot step into the same river twice. But what does this really mean? And what can we learn from this for our own lives? (more...)
Old Age and Death
Epicurus on trouble in the soul
The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus emphasises that, in a world that works according to physical laws, nobody ought to be afraid of either the gods or one’s own death. (more...)
Epicureanism: The Basic Idea
Is it so hard to satisfy our senses?
Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BC) believes that the way to ensure happiness throughout life is to reduce one’s desires so that they can be easily fulfilled. (more...)
Epicurus (341-270 BC)
The misunderstood ascetic
Epicurus (341-270 BC) is often seen as an advocate of a luxurious life, rich in good food and other pleasures. This is incorrect. (more...)
Aldous Huxley’s “Island”
An even braver new world?
The last book of visionary writer Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), Island, is a bold attempt to envision a utopian society that provides its members with everything they need to achieve happiness in life. (more...)
What is Alienation?
Karl Marx on how society fails us
One of his best known concepts of Marxism is the idea of “alienation” that describes how human beings get estranged from their work. (more...)
How Much Money Do We Need?
The long tradition of finding joy outside of consumerism
From Diogenes and Epicurus to Erich Fromm there is a long tradition suggesting that we might be happier with fewer material goods. (more...)
Decluttering the Mind
Erich Fromm on material possessions
If we want to declutter, we must, according to Erich Fromm, first change our relationship to the world. (more...)
To Have Or to Be
Erich Fromm on two different ways of living one’s life
Erich Fromm distinguishes between two modes of existence. One can live one’s life in the “mode of having” or in the “mode of being”. (more...)
Erich Fromm: Society, Technology and Progress
The false promise of unlimited progress
According to philosopher Erich Fromm, the dream of endless technological development has led to a depletion of natural resources and the destruction of nature. (more...)
Erich Fromm: Escaping from Freedom
The attractiveness of being unfree
Erich Fromm claims that freedom itself can sometimes be the cause of fear and anxiety, forcing us to find ways to “escape from freedom.” Authoritarianism, destructiveness and automaton conformity are three ways how we try to cope with the freedom we fear. (more...)
Erich Fromm (1900-1980)
The unconscious forces that shape our societies
Erich Fromm (1900-1980) was a German social psychologist and philosopher who had enormous popular success from the 1950s all the way to the end of his life in 1980. We discuss his work and his relation to Marxism and Freud. (more...)
Hedonism, Pleasure and Happiness
Is pleasure the same as happiness?
Hedonism is the thesis that happiness and pleasure are the same. But is that true? Does the enjoyment of pleasures like good food, chocolate, sex and a myriad other things that we consume everyday — do these things really make us happier? (more...)
Richard Taylor on the Creative Life
Real creativity is not only in art
Richard Taylor (1919–2003) thought that it’s creativity that makes us feel happy and fulfilled. According to Taylor, a life lived without exercising one’s creativity is a wasted life. (more...)
Bertrand Russell on How to Find Happiness
The Conquest of Happiness
In “The Conquest of Happiness”, Russell argues that what makes us happy is an active life, directed by a deep and sustained interest in the world. (more...)
The Conquest of Happiness and Why It Matters Today
Bertrand Russell on how to be happy
Bertrand Russell’s book ‘The Conquest of Happiness’ (1930) attempts to analyse the conditions for happiness in our modern world, focusing on the different mindsets of the unhappy and the happy person. (more...)
Aristotle (384-322 BC)
Not all who wander are lost
Aristotle (384-322 BC), born in Stageira, Greece, is one of the most influential philosophers who ever lived. He worked not only in philosophy, but also wrote dozens of books on all topics, from astronomy and biology to literary theory. (more...)
Bertrand Russell (1892-1970)
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was a British philosopher and writer, one of the most important analytic philosophers of the 20th century. (more...)
Martha Nussbaum and the Capabilities Approach
What makes a human life worth living?
In the capabilities approach, philosopher Martha Nussbaum argues that a human life, in order to reach its highest potential, must include a number of “capabilities” – that is, of actual possibilities that one can realise in one’s life. (more...)
How to Live an Aristotelian Life
Become happy through being good
Aristotle’s theory of happiness rests on three concepts: (1) the virtues; (2) phronesis or practical wisdom; and (3) eudaimonia or flourishing. (more...)