#421: Why You Need a Philosophical Survival Kit

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Published Jul 10, 2018, 6:54 PM

Admiral James Stockdale was a fighter pilot and POW in Vietnam for seven years. During his imprisonment, he was regularly tortured and beaten, and often held in solitary confinement. 

Despite the emotional, mental, and physical trauma he faced day in and day out, Stockdale survived and came home to become an influential public figure. 

How did he do it?

As my guest today explains, Stockdale had with him a philosophical survival kit. 

His name is Thomas Gibbons, he’s a retired Army colonel and a current professor at the U.S. Naval War College where he teaches a course founded by James Stockdale called Foundations of Moral Obligation. Today on the show, Tom shares how a little book of Stoic philosophy helped Stockdale endure through seven grueling years of confinement and how his experience as a POW inspired the creation of a course on Western philosophy. Tom then shares why it’s important for military officers and leaders of all kinds to have an understanding of philosophy and walks us through some of the topics they cover in the “Stockdale Course,” including Aristotelian virtue ethics and Kant’s duty ethics. 

Get the full show notes at aom.is/stockdale.

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