Stoic Week 2013: Spread the Word!

N.B. To read more about Stoic Week 2013, click here for an overview, and here for the press release.

We will be working hard to publicise Stoic Week and the London Event through many different channels and networks, including wellbeing groups, philosophy clubs and schools.

But in order for Stoic Week 2013 to reach as many people as possible, we need you to help spread the word!

Let all your friends know, share the electronic flyers via Twitter and Facebook. If you know of any groups or organisations which would be interested, write to them with the flyers and press release, and ask them to get involved. Ask your friends to do the same for any groups they know too. Print out the leaflet and pin it up in your local library, local coffee shops, and university/college – wherever you can think of! Be as creative as you can in spreading the word!

Also, if you are on Facebook, please join our Facebook ‘Stoicism’ discussion group, and also join the ‘Stoic Week’ event page, and share it with your friends.

This will probably be the last Stoic Week before the team looks to offering more long-term resources, so let’s make Stoic Week 2013 go viral together! 

Feel free to make use of these resources in advertising Stoic Week 2013 and (if you are in the UK), the London Event. You can share any of these on Twitter by sharing the link to the image file.

Continue reading “Stoic Week 2013: Spread the Word!”

Adapting Stoicism Today I: 'Which Stoicism?' by John Sellars

In the first article of our new ‘adapting Stoicism today’ series, which discusses how best Stoicism can be adapted, the need for discernment, and potential difficulties, John Sellars, lecturer of philosophy at Birkbeck College London, asks ‘which Stoicism’?

Which Stoicism?

by John Sellars

Around 300 years separated Chrysippus from Epictetus (both pictured above). 

The aim of the ‘Stoicism Today’ project is to highlight ways in which ancient Stoicism might be of use to people as a general guide to life or might contribute to a therapeutic response to specific problems. Some critics might object that the version of Stoicism being offered bears little relation to the Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno and developed by Chrysippus and others (see e.g. Williams on Nussbaum (LRB 16/20 (20 Oct. 1994), 25-6) and Warren on Irvine (Polis 26/1 (2009), 176-8)). As Williams quipped, what use is Chrysippus’ logical theory in learning how to live?

The project, by contrast, has been inspired primarily by a study of Marcus Aurelius and the materials prepared for the project draw on the works of Seneca, Musonius Rufus, and Epictetus – all later Roman Stoics. This is not just because the works of these later Stoics survive and those of the earlier Stoics active in Athens do not; it also reflects the fact that these later Stoics focus their attention on what we might call ‘Stoic practice’. They offer a wide range of practical guidance designed to contribute towards the cultivation of tranquillity or what Zeno called ‘a smooth flow of life’. It is hard to know to what extent these sorts of practices figured in early Stoicism: we know that early Stoics wrote books on mental training (askêsis) and we also know that this featured prominently in Cynicism, an important influence on the early Stoics. Ultimately the evidence is just too thin for us to know for sure.

Continue reading “Adapting Stoicism Today I: 'Which Stoicism?' by John Sellars”

Stoic Week 2013: Press Release

Can the ancient philosophy of Stoicism
help us to lead better and happier lives?

Philosophers from Birkbeck, University of London, and the University of Exeter, and psychotherapists are calling on people to live like a Stoic for a week, from 25 November – 1 December 2013. The week-long experiment will culminate with a public workshop on Saturday 30 November at Birkbeck, University of London exploring Stoicism for Everyday Life.

The ancient Stoic writers Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius offered a wide range of practical advice and guidance on how to live well and many of the founding figures of modern cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) acknowledged the influence of Stoic philosophy. Stoic Week will put some of this ancient advice to the test and help academics and psychotherapists to assess whether ancient Stoic philosophy can help people to lead better and happier lives.

Stoic Week participants can download a series of exercises, reflections, and meditations to complete each day, prepared by academics and psychotherapists, which draw on ideas from ancient Stoicism. They will complete well-being questionnaires before and after the week and the data from these will be used to assess the effectiveness of the Stoic ideas when they are put into practice today.

Dr John Sellars of Birkbeck’s Philosophy Department and a member of the Stoicism Today project, said: “The ancient Stoic authors offer a wide range of practical advice that many people have drawn on in their daily lives. Stoic Week is an opportunity for people to put Stoicism to the test for themselves and for us to gather data on just how effective Stoic psychotherapy is. The public event in London at the end of the week is an opportunity to explore further how Stoicism might help people in their everyday lives.”

Find out more at http://www.stoicismforlife.com/

Download this year’s handbook (release date 18th November) from: http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/stoicismtoday/

Stoicism for Everyday Life

Date: 30 November 2013;

Time: 10:30-17:30

Venue: Clore Management Centre, Birkbeck, University of London, Torrington Square, London WC1E 7JL

Booking: Free but registration required: (http://stoicismforlife.eventbrite.co.uk/)

Street Stoicism IV: 'Reflections on the Stoic Life' by Marcin Fabjanski

This is our final excerpt in the ‘Street Stoicism’ series, in which Marcin offers some short reflections on living the Stoic life in general.

1.

Autumn in Warsaw. Livid sky, wet, almost sticky rain, russet grass. The withering leaves fall off the trees at my sight, as if somebody was directing a one-man audience play called Everything has to die at some point, and by that I mean pretty soon.

I’m walking down the street with the burden of groceries in my bag and the burden of sorrow on my chest. I’ve gained weight again, the project I’d been working on for three years is falling apart and I will probably lose my job, writing the book about the Stoics does seem to be going somewhere, but it’s going the hard way and stumbling on some rocks. And worst of all – I’m turning forty soon.

Continue reading “Street Stoicism IV: 'Reflections on the Stoic Life' by Marcin Fabjanski”

Street Stoicism III: 'Missed Opportunities' by Marcin Fabjanski

In our third except from Marcin Fabjanski’s book Street Stoicism (only published in Polish, as Stoicyzm Uliczny) we look at a Stoic response to missed opportunities…

                                            

SITUATION

All is lost. And it was so close. If only I had gone and talked to the boss instead of wondering whether it’s appropriate, I would be the project manager now. But no – I will keep sweating my guts out doing everybody else’s job, and someone else is going to get praised for it. I will never get to a higher position, and I am not getting younger every day. Who knows when this kind of opportunity might happen again. I will probably be so old and burnt out working on my position that they won’t trust me with the project anyway.

Continue reading “Street Stoicism III: 'Missed Opportunities' by Marcin Fabjanski”

Street Stoicism II: When You Are Too 'Busy' to Notice the Child who Wants Your Attention by Marcin Fabjanski

In the second of our examples from ‘Street Stoicism’ (published in Polish as ‘Stoicyzm Uliczny‘, but not yet in English), Marcin Fabjanski considers the Stoic response to take when you ever become too ‘busy’ to notice a child who wants your attention.

As with all 41 examples in Marcin’s book, he imagines the situation, before presenting a Stoic maxim that relates to the situation, drawing out the meaning of that maxim, and giving advice on how to tame the situation.

Watch out for our next example from Street Stoicism this Saturday!

THE SITUATION

Oh, what a nice picture, this flower’s really pretty. Oooh, it’s a house. Beautiful. Keep on drawing, I have to read this paper, it’s really important. No, I won’t draw with you. I’m busy, can’t you see?

What now? Building blocks? Stop bothering me, have you got ADHD or what? I don’t know exactly what ADHD means. It’s something really bad and you have it.

The poet Słonimski was right when he wrote that children are disgrace to human race. How much nicer would the world be without them. Nobody would bother me. I could simply… Don’t take this paper. Careful, you’ll tear up the sports section.

That’s enough! You’re going to bed!

Oh come on, don’t start crying now…

Continue reading “Street Stoicism II: When You Are Too 'Busy' to Notice the Child who Wants Your Attention by Marcin Fabjanski”

Street Stoicism I – 'Rudeness!' by Marcin Fabjanski

In our first example from ‘Street Stoicism’ (published in Poland as Stoicyzm Uliczny), Marcin Fabjanski applies Stoic philosophy to responding to rudeness. In this particular case, he uses the example of a rude shop assistant….

The Situation

“Step aside will you, you’re blocking the queue!”. The shop assistant at the grocery store has no mercy on my attempts to unstick the plastic bag so that I can open it. Opening those bags has been my nightmare for years.

“Not everybody has such long nails, young lady, painted red during working hours…”. I bite my tongue right before saying it out loud.

Nonetheless, the situation develops as usual – badly. The people standing behind me in the queue immediately catch the shop assistant’s words. I can hear some ahems behind my back and then, obviously, a reproachful remark of another guy in the queue: ‘well this man doesn’t seem to be in much of a hurry!’

Rudeness!

This kind of behavior will not affect the speed of my packing the groceries in a positive way. Now I will unstick my bag slowly and ineffectively. Flauntingly slowly. All of you will stand in this queue for a while!

THE STOIC MAXIM

‘If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by anyone who happens to verbally attack you?’

Epictetus (trans. Elizabeth Carter)

Continue reading “Street Stoicism I – 'Rudeness!' by Marcin Fabjanski”

'Street Stoicism': A New Series of Articles for Stoicism Today

From tomorrow, we’ll be releasing an excerpt every three or four days, from a book called ‘Street Stoicism’ by Marcin Fabjanski. At the moment, the book is only published in Polish (‘Stoicyzm Uliczny‘), but Marcin has kindly provided some translated excerpts from his work for readers of Stoicism Today.

Marcin’s book takes 41 common situations, from seeing the dentist to having a quarrel, to having a computer which won’t work to having too many things to do at once, and applies Stoic philosophy to each scenario. Each example starts with imagining the problem situation, before then presenting a Stoic maxim which relates to that situation, and then reflects on the implications of that maxim for action.

Marcin has given a TEDx talk in Warsaw, ‘Do Not Fall in Love with a Sparrow Flying By’, which takes its inspiration from a passage in Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.

A little bit more about Marcin….

Dr. Marcin Fabjański has worked as an academic lecturer and researcher, as well as as a journalist and director of documentary films. He is also author of five books, several of which were for children, including Wędrówki filozoficzne [Travels in Philosophy] (2003), a book which combines fiction and facts in order to introduce the history of philosophy to children. The book is the basis for a programme used in several primary and secondary schools in Poland for introducing philosophy to children.

Marcin is a graduate of the University of York, UK and the Adam  Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. He received Ph.D. in Philosophy  (1998), on the basis of dissertation Criticism of the Metaphysical Constituent of Mind in Buddhism and in Schopenhauer’s Thought.

Marcin also runs the website http://selfoff.com, which includes an English version, and which focusses on his work in ‘Mind-Body Bridging’.

For a full biography, click here.

The Stoic Handbook of Epictetus

Online slideshow of Epictetus’ Stoic Handbook, created using the Microsoft Powerpoint Web App.

Below is a short embedded slideshow of Epictetus’ Stoic Handbook, created using the MS-Powerpoint Web App. Use the controls underneath to navigate through the slides, export to a PDF file, or expand it for full-screen viewing…