Is good character something that can be taught? In his new book, The Quest for Character, philosophy professor Massimo Pigliucci draws from a famous story of Socrates and asks what we can learn from it. He blends ancient sources with modern interpretations to give a full picture of the philosophy and cultivation of character, virtue, and personal excellence—what the Greeks called arete. At heart, The Quest for Character isn’t simply about what makes a good leader. Drawing on Socrates as well as his followers among the Stoics, this book gives us lessons perhaps even more crucial: how we can each lead excellent lives.

Massimo Pigliucci is an author, blogger, podcaster, as well as the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York, with a Ph.D. in both Evolutionary Biology and Philosophy. His academic work is in evolutionary biology, philosophy of science, the nature of pseudoscience, and practical philosophy. He has been published in national and international outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. His numerous books include “How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life” and “Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk”. His new book is “The Quest for Character: What the Story of Socrates and Alcibiades Teaches Us about Our Search for Good Leaders.” You can find more of his ideas on his YouTube page and Substack “Figs in Winter”.

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