I’m interested in therapeutic practices from ancient philosophies and wisdom traditions, how individuals and organisations use them today, and how they inform public policy ideas about well-being, ethical resilience, flourishing and transcendence.
My first book, Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations, explored how people are rediscovering ancient Greek and Roman philosophies and how Greek philosophy (partiularly Stoicism) inspired Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). It’s since been published in 19 countries and was a Times book of the year. My second book, The Art of Losing Control, explored how people find ecstatic experiences in modern western culture. It was published in the UK in May 2017, and in the US in September 2017, and has been published in four other countries.
My research on well-being, resilience and practical philosophy has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. I’m also involved in the Modern Stoicism and Stoic Week project , which has received press coverage everywhere from Newsweek to the New York Times, and has helped to instigate the revival of Stoic philosophy in modern culture.
I am now a research fellow at a Wellcome Trust funded project called Living with Feeling, at the Centre for the History of Emotions, Queen Mary University of London. I am researching well-being and ecstatic experiences, and am also investigating ways to improve mental health in different countries and cultures.
Media, key-note and public engagement work
I teach workshops and give key-notes on mental resilience, well-being, ethics and flourishing, which combine ideas from wisdom traditions with insights from modern psychotherapy. Partners include the Escape the City School, Arsenal FC , Saracens rugby club, the Civil Service, HMP Low Moss, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Deloitte, and Mind.You can find out about a pilot course I did on practical philosophy in prisons, mental health charities and sports clubs here
I have talked about philosophy on BBC 2’s Newsnight, the Culture Show, on BBC Radio 3 and 4, RTE-1 and ABC Australia; and am a BBC New Generation Thinker. I’ve written for publications including the Financial Times, The Times, the Guardian, the Spectator and WIRED. I run the Centre’s blog, and also my own blog, which has 30,000 visitors a month. I’ve spoken at events including How The Light Gets In, the Month of Philosophy in Amsterdam, the Hay-On-Wye festival, the Galway Arts Festival, the Faculty of Public Health, Latitude, Wilderness, Bestiival, the School of Life, the Sunday Assembly, the British Museum and the RSA.
I help to run the London Philosophy Club, which is the biggest philosophy club in the world, with 10,000 members (as of May 2018).
Click here to listen to a Radio 4 programme I made on Aristotle’s idea of flourishing and how it influences modern politics.
Click here to listen to the Radio 4 series, My Life As A Philosopher, which I co-wrote and co-presented.
Click here to read an interview I did with The Reading List about my favourite books.