Studying philosophy can be a metaphorical journey into wisdom. My guest today experienced it as not only that, but as a very literal journey as well.
His name is Eric Weiner and he traveled thousands of miles around the world to visit the haunts of numerous philosophers as he sought to better understand their insights and how he might apply them to his own life. He wrote about this philosophic pilgrimage in The Socrates Express: In Search of Life Lessons From Dead Philosophers. Eric and I begin our conversation with why he chose to take all his trips by train, and why rail travel is particularly conducive to thoughtful reflection. We then turn to the physical and philosophical stops he made on his journey, including why Marcus Aurelius wrote so much about getting out of bed and what ultimately motivated the emperor to start each day; what Thoreau can teach us about seeing; why Gandhi was very interested in the idea of manliness; how Nietzsche’s idea of eternal recurrence can change the way we live our daily lives; and the lesson Simone de Beauvoir offers us on aging well. We end our conversation with Montaigne’s insight on how to get comfortable with death.
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- Why Eric gravitated towards traveling by rail for this journey
- The real aim and original meaning of philosophy
- Why does Marcus Aurelius spend so much time writing about getting out of bed?
- “Is” vs “ought”
- The power of questions (even when they don’t arrive at concrete answers)
- The walking habits of famed philosophers
- What is Walden Pond like? What did it teach Eric about vision?
- Thoreau’s balance of Romanticism and scientific inquiry
- The morality of attention
- Gandhi’s misunderstood, aggressive philosophy
- Is Nietzsche’s “Eternal Return” a curse or a blessing?
- What can Simone de Beauvoir teach us about aging?
- Montaigne on death
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- My first interview with Eric on The Geography of Genius
- AoM series on the seasons of a man’s life
- Meditations on Meditations
- How to Think Like a Roman Emperor
- The Power of Wonder
- 20 Rules for Walking
- The Magic of Walking
- Solvitur Ambulando: It Is Solved By Walking
- What Do You Want to Want
- Hiking With Nietzsche
- Expect Great Things — The Mystical Life of Thoreau
- The Existentialist’s Survival Guide
- Simone Weil
- 7 Books to Help You Think About and Manage Your Digital Life
- Yoga Express
- Harness the Life-Altering Power of Eternal Return
- Dance Like Zorba the Greek
- The Coming of Age by Simone de Beauvoir
- Montaigne’s Essays
Connect With Eric
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