Audio: An Overview of Stoic Ethics by John Sellars

An excellent talk, especially for those new to Stoic philosophy, in which John Sellars, lecturer of philosophy at Birkbeck College London, gives an overview of the key claims of Stoic philosophy.

Starting from the widespread consideration in antiquity of philosophy as ‘medicine for the soul’, John goes on to explain Stoic psychology (how what we value or consider important in life leads to the kind of emotions we have) and ethics (how things external to us are ‘indifferent’, but that it is up to us to make ‘good use’ of these indifferents, and how some indifferents, such as health, are preferable to others). He then discusses how Stoicism leads to strength of character, with a focus on preparing well for difficult future events and for dealing with difficult events in the present (‘disaster is virtue’s opportunity’ as Seneca puts it). He also explores objections to Stoic ethics, as well as the relationship between Stoic ethics and modern psychotherapy.

A Q&A follows the session, and you can read the texts John refers to here.

With thanks to Cristóbal Zarzar at KCL for recording this talk last November as part of Stoic Week.

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2 thoughts on “Audio: An Overview of Stoic Ethics by John Sellars”

  1. I have found this talk on Stoic Ethics really helpful and have played it over many times each time I gain more and more.

    Over the past few years I have had many challenges and I have practiced meditation & reflection to help self-improvement. I have found the Modern Stoicism week and the course earlier in the year really helpful along with many of the blogs published by Patrick each week and find they dovetail brilliantly with the Ignation Spiritual Exercises and the Benedictine Rule which have helped me so much throughout my life. I had a chuckle at the “No Mention of God of Spirituality” focus these days and the fact that you had to change the name of the Spiritual Exercises to “Theraputic Practices”. Morning and Evening Reflections!