Arts & Entertainment | January 14, 2020 7:00 am

Stoicisim Is the 2,000-Year-Old Philosophy Currently Sweeping Silicon Valley

The ancient philosophy has become trendy again among today's tech elite

Marcus Aurelius, one of the popular figures of first-wave Stoicism.

They say everything old is new, and while that phrase often tends to refer to oft-resurrected fashion trends that refuse to die, apparently it applies to ancient philosophies as well.

According to the Washington Post, Stoicism is the newest trend sweeping Silicon Valley — except it’s not particularly new. The ancient philosophy first popularized roughly 2,300 years ago by great Greco-Roman minds of yore appears to be experiencing a modern renaissance among today’s tech elite, who have reportedly latched onto the philosophy’s founding principles of virtuous living, accepting the inevitable, and constant meditation on death.

The buzzy Stoicism revival is linked, in part, to the rise of Modern Stoicism, a U.K.-based group helmed by psychologists and academics that has been presiding over Stoic-themed events since 2012. Along with the annual Stoicon event, which reportedly drew hundreds to Athens in October, smaller “Stoicon-X” gatherings take place in various cities including Toronto, Moscow and New York.

The elite Modern Stoics of Silicon Valley (which sounds like a possibly okay reality TV show) reportedly include ex-Theranos head Elizabeth Holmes and Digg founder Kevin Rose, as well as various other tech chiefs and academics. They gather in libraries and coffee shops to discuss Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, listen to lectures and even engage in the occasional game of Yahtzee, which is apparently quite Stoic.

However, some critics argue the Stoic revival isn’t all harmless philosophical chit-chat and rolling dice. In 2018, Donna Zuckerberg published Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age, in which she accused men of “using ancient Greek and Roman figures and texts to prop up an ideal of white masculinity,” which, frankly, sounds about right! If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the past couple thousand years of human civilization, it’s that racism and misogyny never go out of style.

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