An Index of my Medium Articles

I’ve indexed my posts by topic below so readers new to me can dive into my writing without endlessly scrolling on my profile page. Each article includes its sub-header or an explainer.

You can also read my most substantial posts on The Sophist, my publication.

I believe that the wisdom that comes with the study of philosophy, culture and history can help you live a better life. If I can help you, or if you can help me help others, drop me a line:

You can find me on Clubhouse> @sgambardella where I plan to get people talking about…

It was a Powerful Experience

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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

What do you write to yourself in ten years?

I was suddenly choked. Blood rushed to my fingers. My hands felt heavy over the keys. What to type?

It’s difficult to convey how powerful the experience was. I write emails every day — dozens in a work day. But not all emails are created equally.

I had recently stumbled on a new feature on Gmail that you can schedule emails. I’m a frequent self-emailer. My inbox is always open, and it’s easy to send your self files and reminders that you can pick up elsewhere. …

What Would We Think of Him?

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Photo by Anna Gru on Unsplash

The BBC recently put out an episode of its brilliant radio show and podcast In Our Time in which a panel of ancient historians discus Marcus Aurelius and the Meditations with Melvin Bragg, the show’s host.

I highly recommend listening for anybody with an interest in history, Stoicism or applied philosophy.

About halfway through, Bragg — known for his forthright style — challenges the panel to demonstrate how Marcus’s stoicism was put into practice.

This is where things get interesting. The panellists agree that there are no “obviously Stoic actions on Marcus’s part”. …

We’re Mired in Self-inflicted Unhappiness

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

If you are reading this article then congratulations: you’re a winner of the cosmic lottery.

You likely own a connected device and have an internet connection, unlike more than 50% of the planet’s population. In fact, you are likely to be in the top 10% richest people in the world, a privilege that requires a net worth of $95,000.

Around 100 million Americans are in this privileged position. Being in the top 10% of the world makes you richer than almost seven billion people.

Throughout the history of mankind, billions more people lived in a less developed world than the…

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Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Thought experiments are challenges that break your conventional patterns of thinking. They mobilise the imagination to remould our point of view for a brief but brilliant moment.

This article by Jon Hawkins is a fantastic introduction to thought experiments. All four examples he gives could be life-changing, since they force us to take a different perspective and potentially disperse strongly-held feelings.

I can’t think of a better way to “flex” the cerebellum. Think of thought experiments as yoga for the mind.

I’m particularly fond of Rawls’ “Veil of Ignorance”. I’m convinced that this thought experiment should be taught to school…

Nietzsche and Self-Actualisation

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

You’re a cloud of atoms that have existed since the beginning of time. You’re millions of molecules compacted in the throat of an hour-glass of existence. Life is a passing moment, a stolen chance to add happiness to the world.

Every day we’re bombarded with advice on how to make ourselves better. Better workers, better lovers, better friends — better for other people. Yet nobody can give us advice on what is best for us — how to be ourselves.

Most religions and philosophies teach us that human beings have a nature or inner essence. To be a virtuous person…

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Warhol in the 60s. Portrait by Jack Mitchell. (Source: Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 4.0)

There’s a gazillion posts about entrepreneurs on Medium, few are as inspirational, creative or surprising as Warhol — a deeply insecure and sickly working-class kid who made it to the very top, not just as an artist but as an astute businessman.

The history of art is littered with exploited geniuses who died poor — Warhol was never going to let that happen.

I was amazed by this fact — Warhol was rich before he became an artist:

“His income from his advertising work increased year on year: in 1959 he earned $53,000, roughly equivalent to nearly half-a-million dollars in…

The Enduring Relevance of Machiavelli’s “The Prince”

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Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito (Public Domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons)

You’re a good person in a world of scoundrels. You know what you need to do for the best, but you’ll die trying to take the honourable path.

This is the basic, but unwritten, premise of Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince. The word “Machiavellian” is used as much in the workplace as it is in politics. It has come to mean the willingness to use deceit or even violence to gain the upper hand in a competitive world.

The renaissance-era Italian diplomat and political philosopher looms large over “realpolitik” foreign policy, business rivalries, presidential campaigns and boardroom takeovers.

Even the rapper…

Is the Quest for Truth and Order Futile?

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We live with the constant danger that our “map” — our understanding — of the world is melded or confused with the world itself. Image: A historical map of the world by Gerard van Schagen, 1689. (Public domain. Source: Wikipedia).

Is your glass of water half full or half empty?

This experiment is often thought of as a way to distinguish pessimists from optimists. Its lesson is clear — a fundamental difference of perception can lead to a profoundly different approach to living.

Nietzsche’s criticisms of the Stoics betrays this kind of fundamental difference. It’s a clash of philosophies that allows us to think about how our perception of the world informs our understanding of it, and how we can find meaning within it.

There is common ground between Nietzsche’s philosophy and the Stoics. Both believed that human beings did…

Money is a belief, and there is no purer belief than in ourselves

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Photo by Piotr Łaskawski on Unsplash

When we understand that the world is structured by belief, we understand that value can be a mirage.

Stoicism has murky roots in an obscure philosophy known as Cynicism that would make modern Stoics blush. The Cynics declared war on conventional ideas of value.

In Greek “cynic” means “dog-like”. These philosophers embraced a life of poverty and self-imposed hardship, they shunned the polite manners of decent society, disdained politics and behaved shamelessly.

Happiness, the Cynics contended, can be found where you least expect it — by rejecting the shallow and artificial values of society and embracing a simple and self-sufficient…

Steven Gambardella

The lessons of philosophy and history, their practical benefits for your life and work. Feel free to get in touch:

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