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01Cynic2017120120180829 (R4)Comedian Andy Zaltzman lives by the rules of the ancient Greek philosophy of the Cynics.

Andy Zaltzman explores the teachings of three ancient schools of philosophy.

Diogenes (404 - 323BC), who lived in a barrel in Athens, was perhaps the most famous cynic. The school gets its name from Diogenes' who was nick-named "kynikos", or 'dog-like', because he lived in the street and fed on scraps. The Cynics were arguably the first environmentalists and the modern anarchist elements of the Green movement are adapting their teaching, especially around self-sufficiency and living a simple life. The ancient Cynics thought we have been corrupted by the false beliefs of civilization, such as the belief that the most important thing in life is to win success and status. So they set out to puncture these false beliefs. Diogenes the Cynic called this 'debasing the currency' and he became well known for his philosophical pranks. Plato is said to have described him as a Socrates "gone mad.". For satirist Andy Zaltzman this all sounds very familiar and he goes to talk through the philosophy with the comedian and political activist Mark Thomas. But when it comes to carrying out the tasks set for him by Jules Evans, author of "Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations" he's stretched to his limits.

Producer: Phil Pegum.

Comedian Andy Zaltzman lives by the rules of the ancient Greek philosophy of the Cynics.

Andy Zaltzman explores the teachings of three ancient schools of philosophy.

01Epicurean2017112420180822 (R4)Comedian Andy Zaltzman spends a week living by the rules of Epicurean philosophy.

Andy Zaltzman explores the teachings of three ancient schools of philosophy.

Andy Zaltzman, the comedian, cricket fanatic and lapsed classics student will be spending a week living by the teachings of three ancient schools of philosophy. This week he'll mostly be being an epicurean. But this is a lot harder than you think. It's a philosophy that arose in around 300 BC in Athens and was named after Epicurus who set up a school of philosophy called The Garden, on the outskirts of Athens, where his followers lived and supposedly shared all their possessions. For Epicureans, the goal of life is happiness or pleasure, rather than virtue, but they advocated an analytical and questioning approach to the question of happiness and tended to live simply, eat simply.

Today psychologists are exploring how Epicurus' ideas on happiness can be used to teach people how to manage negative memories. Researchers in the psychology of happiness are experimenting with adapting the teachings to help people with obsessive compulsive disorders to focus on their internal life rather than external stimuli that drive their conditions. And the science of happiness is being used in economic and political theory. The bigger question behind all of these programmes is just how much one can recover of the original teachings, how far they can be updated with modern knowledge and will Andy be happier living a day without cricket?

Producer: Phil Pegum.

01Stoic2017111720180815 (R4)Andy Zaltzman spends a week living by the rules of the Stoic school of philosophy.

Andy Zaltzman explores the teachings of three ancient schools of philosophy.

Andy Zaltzman, the comedian, cricket fanatic and lapsed classics student will be spending a week living by the teachings of three ancient schools of philosophy. This week he'll mostly be being stoic.
Stoicism is being hailed as the new Mindfulness in their quest for a modern day answer to the eternal question of how to live a good life. The trouble is centuries of misunderstanding have left us with glaring misconceptions about what these philosophies really are: Stoicism is nothing about keeping a stiff upper lip and suppressing my emotions. The great attraction of stoicism is what it tells us about resilience and how to deal with life's vicissitudes. Founded by Zeno of Citium in the 3rd century BC, Premiership rugby club Saracens hold weekly classes in it, special forces recruits are taught its insights - the value of virtue for its own sake and how to make the best of what is in our power, and take the rest as it naturally happens - and politicians and business leaders are attracted by the works of famous Stoics like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius.
Every week Andy will be given a set of tasks to confront to teach him a philosophical lesson. His guide and task master is Jules Evans, author of "Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations." Andy will also meet the famous mentalist and illusionist Derren Brown who's also a follower of Stoicism.

Producer: Phil Pegum.

Andy Zaltzman spends a week living by the rules of the Stoic school of philosophy.

Andy Zaltzman explores the teachings of three ancient schools of philosophy.