Books Stoicism

Stoicism in the Netherlands

Hi everyone,

I’ve just arrived in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, where I’ll be staying from 23rd to 28th September to promote the Dutch translation of my latest book on Stoicism, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius or, as it’s known in Dutch, Leer Denken als een Romeinse Keizer. Afterwards, I’m travelling to Athens where I’ll be organizing Stoicon, the Modern Stoicism conference. However, I’ll also be in Belgium for a few days in November, where I’m speaking at the Night of the Freethinker festival in Ghent, on Saturday 9th November.

With the help of my Dutch publisher, Ten Have, I’ll be organizing some talks and interviews, etc. On Friday 27th Sep, I’m planning a free talk about Stoicism in the evening, venue details to be confirmed shortly. However, there will definitely be an informal coffee and Stoicism meetup at the Vascobelo coffee shop in the Scheltema book store in Amsterdam, at 1pm on Friday 27th — everyone is welcome. (See our Facebook event page and click “going” to help us track numbers.)

There’s already been an article with seven tips from Marcus Aurelius, based on the book, in the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper. I recently also did an interview about Stoicism with Stefanie Van den Broeck for the Belgian news magazine Knack. While in Amsterdam, I’ll also be doing interviews with the newspaper NRC and the Belgian management magazine MT. I’m also booked as a guest on the Living without Stress with Patrick Kicken.

I recently republished an article I wrote about the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza, comparing the therapeutic aspect of his philosophy to modern cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). Although Spinoza didn’t acknowledge his own debt to Stoicism, Leibniz described him as pioneering “the sect of the new Stoics”, and the similarities between Spinozism and Stoicism are obvious to most readers. Indeed, I opened How to Think Like a Roman Emperor with the following quote:

I thus perceived that I was in a state of great peril, and I compelled myself to seek with all my strength for a remedy, however uncertain it might be; as a sick man struggling with a deadly disease, when he sees that death will surely be upon him […] is compelled to seek such a remedy with all his strength, inasmuch as his whole hope lies therein. (Spinoza, De Intellectus Emendatione, 4–5)

Aaron T. Beck, quoted Spinoza, alongside the Stoics, in Cognitive Therapy & the Emotional Disorders (1976), the very first book on his cognitive therapy approach:

I saw that all the things I feared, and which feared me had nothing good or bad in them save insofar as the mind was affected by them. (Spinoza, quoted in Beck, 1976:156)

I’m therefore looking forward to visiting the monument to Spinoza in Amsterdam, and also taking a trip to the house where he lived, in Rijnsburg, which is now a museum dedicated to his life and philosophy.

Please feel free to get in touch if you’re based in or near Amsterdam. I know there are quite a variety of people interested in Stoicism in the Netherlands already. For example, a few years ago a group of students at Hermann Wesselink College in Amstelveen participated in Stoic Week, and wrote about the experience. There’s also an Amsterdam Stoics Meetup group, if you’re interested.


Donald Robertson Signature
Books Philosophy of CBT Stoicism

Revised Second Edition: The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy

I’m pleased to announce that in December 2019, Routledge will be publishing the revised second edition of my 2010 book The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy.

It will be available in both hardback (ISBN 9780367219871) and paperback (ISBN 9780367219147) formats. The content has been thoroughly revised, with hundreds of small changes, and a whole new chapter, discussing the comparison between Stoicism and modern third-wave cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). You can order it online from Routledge, The Book Depository, Amazon, and all other good bookstores. See also Google Books and Goodreads for reviews and other information.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword to First Edition by Prof. Stephen Palmer
  • Introduction: Philosophy & Psychotherapy
  • Part I: Philosophy & Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • The “Philosophical Origins” of CBT
  • The Beginning of Modern Cognitive Therapy
  • A Brief History of Philosophical Therapy
  • Stoic Philosophy & Psychology
  • Rational Emotion in Stoicism & CBT
  • Stoicism & Ellis’ Rational Therapy (REBT)
  • Part II: The Stoic Armamentarium
  • Contemplation of the Ideal Sage
  • Stoic Mindfulness of the “Here & Now”
  • Self-Analysis & Disputation
  • Autosuggestion, Premeditation, & Retrospection
  • Premeditatio Malorum & Mental Rehearsal
  • Stoic Fatalism, Determinism & Acceptance
  • The View from Above & Stoic Metaphysics
  • Stoicism and the Third-Wave
  • Conclusion: Fate Guides the Willing
  • Appendix 1: An Example Stoic Therapeutic Regime
  • Appendix 2: The View from Above Script

Books Stoicism

Book Summary: How to Think Like a Roman Emperor

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius (2019) is published by St. Martin’s Press in hardback, ebook, and audiobook formats. This is a brief summary of the contents.

The introduction explains how I came to write the book, drawing on my background in academic philosophy and training as a cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist, after nearly twenty years of writing and teaching Stoicism. It discusses the modern growth of interest in Stoicism, including the activities of the Modern Stoicism organization. It also explains how the idea for the book came from my experience of telling my young daughter, Poppy, stories about ancient philosophy.

1. The Dead Emperor

The first chapter opens with the death of Marcus Aurelius. I wanted to start the book with something dramatic. Each chapter begins with a story about some major event in Marcus’ life, based on the information we have from the various Roman histories of his reign.

In most of the chapters that leads into a discussion of Stoic philosophy and psychology and the concepts and techniques he used to cope with various problems such as anger, anxiety, pain, and so on. Then there’s a detailed discussion of how Stoic techniques can actually be applied today, drawing on my experience as a cognitive-behavioural therapist and the relevant scientific research. However, the first chapter is slightly different because after describing the events surrounding Marcus’ death in some detail, it proceeds to give the reader a short introduction to Stoic philosophy.

The story of Stoicism begins with Zeno of Citium, the founder of the school, and so you’ll be introduced to various anecdotes about him and other famous Stoics. Then we focus on what the Stoics actually believed: the core doctrines of the philosophy followed by Marcus throughout his entire adult life. And we’ll address some common misconceptions about Stoicism, such as the idea that Stoics were unemotional or joyless, which is false. I tried to keep the explanation of Stoicism in this chapter as simple as possible but after reading it you should have a pretty clear idea of who the Stoics were and what they believed. Then you’ll be well prepared to begin delving into the application of Stoicism to different areas of life. For example, in the next chapter we’ll be looking at how Stoics used language and in subsequent chapters you’ll learn how they overcame unhealthy desires and bad habits, conquered anxiety, managed anger, coped with pain and illness, came to terms with loss, and even faced their own mortality.

Read the rest of this article on Medium…

Books Marcus Aurelius Stoicism

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor on Amazon

When my latest book How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius reaches 100 reviews on Amazon, I’m going to release a special infographic depicting the reign of Marcus Aurelius.

Books Marcus Aurelius Stoicism

Coming Soon: New Edition of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

I’m delighted to announce that a new edition of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, with which I was involved, is due for publication in December 2019 by Capstone, an imprint of John Wiley & Sons. (Publisher’s website.)

Capstone Classics is a series of deluxe hardback editions of classic texts. This special edition of The Meditations is beautifully bound and contains a modernized version of the George Long translation accompanied by my detailed introduction to the text.

This book is eligible for Amazon’s pre-order price guarantee so you should find that by ordering now you’ll get the book at the lowest price offered prior to its release. So that’s a great way to pick up a bargain.

Books Marcus Aurelius Stoicism

Save 35% off How to Think Like a Roman Emperor on Amazon US

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor

Save 35% off the list price if you order the best selling hardback now from Amazon US. Also available in audiobook and ebook formats.

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius was a #1 best seller in philosophy, has been nominated for two literary awards, and has received an average five star rating from reviewers on Amazon, leading it to be listed as one of their “top-rated” ancient philosophy titles by Amazon. The audiobook edition also became a best seller on Audible.

Robertson distills the emperor’s philosophy into useful mental habits… displays a sound knowledge of Marcus’ life and thought… accessible prose style contributes to its appeal… a convincing case for the continuing relevance of an archetypal philosopher-king.

The Wall Street Journal

You can now preview the Kindle version via the link below:

Books Stoicism

Series of Talks on Stoicism at Toronto Public Libraries

I’m delighted to announce that I’ve been invited to deliver a series of talks at several of the public libraries in my home city of Toronto. Follow the links below for more information…

  1. Fort York Library, Tuesday 9th July, 6.30-8pm
  2. Toronto Reference Library, Thursday 22nd August, 2-3.30pm
  3. Lillian H. Smith Library, Wednesday 11th September, 6.30-8pm

I’ll be adding more information closer to the events.

Books Marcus Aurelius Stoicism

First 300 Reviews of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, my sixth book, came out in April. It’s now been rated/reviewed over 300 times on Goodreads. It has also been reviewed in several publications, including The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Robertson […] displays a sound knowledge of Marcus’ life and thought. The author’s accessible prose style, well-suited for recounting both philosophical concepts and arcane Roman history, contributes to its appeal. As an introduction to Stoic philosophy, it’s hard to beat the “Meditations,” which deserve to be read ahead of any commentary on them. That said, Mr. Robertson’s book succeeds on its own terms, presenting a convincing case for the continuing relevance of an archetypal philosopher-king.

You can read some of the latest Goodreads reviews below…

Books Stoicism

Spotlight on How to Think Like a Roman Emperor by the American Philosophical Association (APA)

Read the full article here…

  • What is How to Think Like a Roman Emperor about?
  • How does it fit in with your larger research project?
  • For those of us who are unaware of the nonprofit’s work, can you describe one or two of the ways it has utilized Stoicism to comment on modern living (e.g. the SABS scale)?
  • Why did you feel the need to write this book?
  • Would you be willing to share one of the stories in your book and the relevant idea you draw from it?
  • How do you think Stoicism compares to other psychological treatments (relaxation therapy, hypnotherapy, group therapy, meetings with individual counselors, etc.)?
Books Stoicism

Photos from Book Signing at Ben McNally

Thanks to Adam Piercey for taking these photos of my book signing at Ben McNally’s in Toronto, for How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius.