Making sense of the Hellenistic philosophies

A brief conceptual guide to what differentiated the Greco-Roman schools of philosophy as a way of life

by Massimo Pigliucci

The Hellenistic period span from the death of Alexander the Great and the consequent collapse of the Macedonian Empire in 323 BCE to the battle of Actium in 31 BCE, where the future first Roman emperor, Octavian, beat the crap out of the joint forces of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra. It was an incredible period in human history, which saw the flourishing of a number of philosophical schools that went on to impact the development of western civilization, and that are still very much relevant today. … (continue at Medium)

Podcast: Happy birthday, Marcus Aurelius!

A few days ago — on April 26th — was the 1901st birthday of the emperor philosopher, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, author of one of the most famous Stoic texts, the Meditations.

To celebrate, my friend and colleague Rob Colter and I have put out a new episode of the Philosophy as a Way of Life podcast (n. 27, to be precise), where we talk about the passages in the Meditations that have most influenced our lives, ask whether Marcus persecuted Christians, why he didn’t abolish slavery, and why on earth he picked his son Commodus to succeed him! (listen at Anchor)

Suggested reading: Scientific Models and Individual Experience

[Part of an occasional series of articles I come across and that strike me as being of general interest. Suggestions welcome, using the Contact form on this site.]

by David Kordahl

I’ll start this column with an over-generalization. Speaking roughly, scientific models can be classed into two categories: mechanical models, and actuarial models. Engineers and physical scientists tend to favor mechanical models, where the root causes of various effects are specified by their formalism. Predictable inputs, in such models, lead to predictable outputs. Biologists and social scientists, on the other hand, tend to favor actuarial models, which can move from measurements to inferences without positing secret causes along the way. By calling these latter models “actuarial,” I’m encouraging readers to think of the tabulations of insurance analysts, who have learned to appreciate that individuals may be unpredictable, even as they follow predictable patterns in the aggregate. … (continue at 3QuarksDaily)