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 andI 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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Show Highlights

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 GeniusAoM series on the seasons of a man’s life Meditations on MeditationsHow to Think Like a Roman EmperorThe Power of Wonder20 Rules for WalkingThe Magic of WalkingSolvitur Ambulando: It Is Solved By WalkingWhat Do You Want to WantHiking With NietzscheExpect Great Things — The Mystical Life of ThoreauThe Existentialist’s Survival GuideSimone Weil7 Books to Help You Think About and Manage Your Digital LifeYoga ExpressHarness the Life-Altering Power of Eternal ReturnDance Like Zorba the GreekThe Coming of Age by Simone de BeauvoirMontaigne’s Essays

socrates express book cover by eric weiner.

Connect With Eric

Eric’s website

Eric on Twitter

Eric on Instagram

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