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Stoic Wisdom

Ancient Lessons for Modern Resilience

Nancy Sherman



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Oxford University Press
23 September 2021
How do we find calm in times of stress and uncertainty? How do we cope with sudden losses or find meaning in a world that can easily rob us of what we most value? Drawing on the wisdom of Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and others, Nancy Sherman's Stoic Wisdom presents a compelling, modern Stoicism that teaches grit, resilience, and the importance of close relationships in addressing life's biggest and smallest challenges.

A renowned expert in ancient and modern ethics, Sherman relates how Stoic methods of examining beliefs and perceptions can help us correct distortions in what we believe, see, and feel. Her study reveals a profound insight about the Stoics: They never believed, as Stoic popularizers often hold, that rugged self-reliance or indifference to the world around us is at the heart of living well. We are at home in the world, they insisted, when we are connected to each other in cooperative efforts. We build resilience and goodness through our deepest relationships.

Bringing ancient ideas to bear on 21st century concerns--from workers facing stress and burnout to first responders in a pandemic, from soldiers on the battlefield to citizens fighting for racial justice--Sherman shows how Stoicism can help us fulfil the promise of our shared humanity.

In nine lessons that combine ancient pithy quotes and daily exercises with contemporary ethics and psychology, Stoic Wisdom is a field manual for the art of living well.
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 218mm,  Width: 148mm,  Spine: 22mm
Weight:   442g
ISBN:   9780197501832
ISBN 10:   0197501834
Pages:   288
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Lesson Titles Lesson 1: The Great Stoic Revival Lesson 2: Who Were the Stoics? Lesson 3: Finding Calm Lesson 4: Living with Emotions Lesson 5: Grit and Resilience Lesson 6: Healing through Self-Compassion Lesson 7: Lifehacks Lesson 8: The Art of Stoic Living Lesson 9: A Healthy Modern Stoicism

Nancy Sherman, Professor, Georgetown University Nancy Sherman, University Professor at Georgetown University and Guggenheim Fellow (2013-2014), holds a Ph.D. from Harvard in ancient philosophy. An ethicist with research training in psychoanalysis, she lectures worldwide on ethics, the emotions, moral injury, and resilience. The author of Afterwar (OUP, 2015), The Untold War (2010 and New York Times editors' pick), Stoic Warriors (OUP, 2005), and several other books on ancient and modern ethics, she served as the Inaugural Distinguished Chair of Ethics at the United States Naval Academy. She has written for the New York Times and contributes frequently to many other media outlets.

Reviews for Stoic Wisdom: Ancient Lessons for Modern Resilience

Nancy Sherman goes far beyond the kind of 'pen-and-ink philosophy' that the Stoics had so little time for. In this book, she applies Stoicism where it is most needed--for our warriors and working people alike--and helps them become better and more resilient. --Ryan Holiday, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Daily Stoic and Stillness is the Key What a delight this book is! Stoic Wisdom is a lively, deeply knowledgeable, and wide-ranging exploration of the Stoic tradition, and how it can inform modern life. --Phil Klay, Winner of the National Book Award and author of Missionaries and Redeployment Moving with grace and nuanced human understanding from ancient Stoic texts to our world today, drawing vivid examples from hospitals, the military, the world of Silicon Valley, and recent protests seeking racial justice, Sherman proves a sure-footed and appealing guide to what is truly worth holding on to in ancient Greek and Roman Stoicism. Engaging sympathetically yet critically with the ancient texts, she ultimately fashions her own Stoicism for today: based not on detachment but on resilience and adaptability, not on emotional hardness but on empathetic attunement to the needs of others, not on a retreat from politics but on a commitment to change what we cannot accept. --Martha C. Nussbaum, University of Chicago Stoicism is more than two millennia old, and yet Stoicism has become - as Nancy Sherman writes - the Zen of the West. I can hardly think of a more clear and useful guide to ancient and modern Stoicism than Stoic Wisdom. --Massimo Pigliucci, author of A Field Guide to a Happy Life Stoic Wisdom is a fresh and insightful take on this ancient philosophy. Sherman provides ways of updating Stoicism, philosophically and psychologically, so that it can be of practical benefit to modern readers in their daily lives. Its discussion of moral injury and emotional resilience will be of particular value to those in the armed forces. The lessons in this book contains are relevant to everyone-and increasingly needed for the welfare both of the individual and our society. --Donald Robertson, author of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor Seneca and Epictetus would greatly appreciate Nancy Sherman's subtle and elegant elucidation of Stoicism. Modern Stoic popularizers embrace a philosophy of individual self-mastery and toughness. Yet Sherman shows that they fail to grasp true Stoic wisdom. She persuasively argues that Stoicism encourages action in pursuit of a virtuous life aimed at overcoming both individual and shared challenges to realize our collective well-being. --Ezekiel J. Emanuel, Vice Provost of Global Initiatives and Levy University Professor, University of Pennsylvania An accessible, powerful and thoughtful exploration of Stoicism as guidance for life. Nancy Sherman probes the possible weaknesses as well as strengths of the Stoic approach and in doing so brings out its genuine value for us now. A special merit is that she underlines the Stoic emphasis on social engagement as well as self-reliance and resilience. --Christopher Gill, University of Exeter In a season of pandemics, mass death, and worldwide economic dysfunction, it is well worth listening, once again or for the first time, to the views of the ancient Greek and Roman Stoics. Sherman's book is an historically faithful guide to the ancient thinkers, which shows on every page how their thought finds application in our contemporary predicaments. Filled with lively anecdotes, case-studies, and personal observations, this book is unmatched in its combination of scholarly accuracy and urgent relevance. --Tad Brennan, Cornell University This is a wonderful book. With deft intelligence, Nancy Sherman displays the part that Stoicism could play for all of us today in these high-pressure times. Her case studies are drawn from the real world of today and illuminated by snippets of ancient Stoic texts. People in high-risk jobs loom large, because they show clearly what can be done - how we too can break free of what, in good Stoic fashion, she calls our 'enslavement.' Sherman passionately urges that Stoicism could help all of us, whatever form of emotional turmoil is impeding us, to gain control of our lives. --Robin Waterfield, translator of Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus Stoicism is directly relevant to the way we live our lives, but it appears at first to make unrealistic demands on us - and it appears to require us to extinguish our emotions. Nancy Sherman introduces us, with grace and liveliness, to the deep, striking and complex ideas behind the seemingly harsh demands. Appealing to today's events as well as the ancient world, and on our full range of sources as well as the ones familiar from self-help guides, she presents Stoicism in the round. She shows us how we are called on to enlarge our lives as Stoics in our everyday mundane dealings as well as in extreme and testing situations - because Stoicism strengthens our social and political energies as well as our resilience and grit. Sherman makes Stoicism appealing without oversimplifying it, and calls attention to its relevance to us while keeping us aware of our distance from the world in which it developed. This is much the best introduction to Stoicism. --Julia Annas, University of Arizona

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