Headshot of Nancy Sherman sitting outside on bench in fall leaves
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Book by Philosophy Professor Uses Ancient Wisdom as Framework to Alleviate Problems of Today

At a time of extraordinary uncertainty and anxiety, we are all searching for ways to stay calm and remain positive. Nancy Sherman, university professor in the Department of Philosophy, draws on the wisdom of philosophers to bring ancient ideas to bear on the concerns of  today in her latest book STOIC WISDOM: Ancient Lessons for Modern Resilience

“Stoic resilience, as I develop it in the book, is so critical now since the pandemic has added a new layer of anxiety for everyone,” Sherman explains. “For example, our students have felt isolated, worried about their health and that of their loved ones. Some may even have seen their parents lose jobs, unsure where the next ones will be.  The Stoics, in my interpretation, don’t view resilience as go-it-alone grit, but as building strength through the supports that can sustain us they were the first serious cosmopolitans and they taught us that we are global citizens.  If the Stoics are worth reading, it’s because they constantly exhort us to rise to our potential through reason, cooperation and selflessness.”

Resilience with Others

Stoicism has made a comeback in today’s world. From the tech and business sectors to the military, from self-help circles to the field of psychotherapy, its teachings are prevalent in society. However, its true tenets are often misconstrued. 

A renowned expert in ancient and modern ethics, Sherman provides a corrective to the misconceptions, and in some cases toxic distortions, that have come along with Stoicism’s revival. 

In the process, she reveals a profound and surprising 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. Instead, Sherman presents a compelling, modern Stoicism that teaches grit, resilience and the importance of close relationships in addressing life’s biggest and smallest challenges— at a time when we’re all facing many of both. 

In nine lessons that guide readers in the Stoic way of finding calm, living with emotions, grit and resilience  and healing through self-compassion, among others, STOIC WISDOM offers an essential field manual for the art of living well.  

More About the Author:  

Sherman has appointments in Georgetown’s Law Center on National Security as well as the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. She is an expert in ethics, the history of moral philosophy, moral psychology, military ethics and emotions.  The author of Stoic Wisdom (Oup, 2021), 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.  Sherman is also a Guggenheim Fellow.  She has written for the New York Times and contributes frequently to many other media outlets.

-by Shelby Roller (G’19)

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