Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot

Remember this guy?  For some reason or another I bought this pamphlet of a speech he gave at King’s College, London, November 1993:

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Stockdale was a 38 year old naval aviator when he got sent to Stanford for two years of study.  He was pretty bored until a professor handed him a copy of The Enchiridion, a collection of the teachings of Epictetus.

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What does Epictetus teach?

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He taught how to play the game of life with perspective:game-of-life

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Five years later, this is what happened to Stockdale:

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Stockdale was wrong about how long he’d be there.  He was there for 7 1/2 years, much of it in solitary confinement:

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How did he spend his time?  Well, for one thing he constructed a sliderule in his mind from equations tapped to him in code through a concrete wall::

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A bigger collection of Stockdale’s speeches and essays:

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where he distills what he learned through his prison experience down to “one all-purpose idea, plus a few corollaries”:

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What he has to say about public virtue is distressing as I watch the future president:

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A badass:

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Recommend Courage Under Fire, which costs five bucks or $3.85 on Kindle.  Thoughts Of A Philosophical Fighter Pilot is for the serious Stockdale student.

I think you can appreciate the greatness of Stockdale and also find this funny:

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/joyride-with-perot/n10313

Coverage of another philosophical fighter pilot, John Boyd, here.

 



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