— Stoicism Today (@StoicWeek) November 23, 2013
Download or browse the PDF version of the Stoic Week 2013 Handbook free online.
Download or browse the PDF version of the Stoic Week 2013 Handbook free online.
Are you Stoic enough? Could you be more Stoic? Maybe you’re already getting a bit too Stoic for your own good? How can you find out? Use the Stoic Attitudes and Behaviour Scale (SABS) to size yourself up, in terms of Stoicism.
Here’s the scale you’re looking for…
If this whets your appetite, know that you’re just one short step away from participating in Stoic Week.
All you need do is complete the other requisite scales and then download the Stoic Week 2013 Handbook.
If you prefer, you can travel through cyberspace to the Stoic Attitudes and Behaviour Scale using this link instead.
In preparation for Stoic Week, which starts next Monday, here is a special guest article which explores the example of Cato, and the five lessons which we can take from his character today….
NB. If you are new to Stoic Week 2013, please click here to read more about it and to download this year’s day by day Handbook.
Julius Caesar wanted to end him. George Washington wanted to be him. And for two thousand years, he was a singular subject of plays, poetry, and paintings, with admirers as diverse as Benjamin Franklin, the poet Dante, and the Stoic emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Yet, for all that, you’ve probably never heard of him…
We’ve spent the last few years excavating the life, times, and legacy of Marcus Porcius Cato the Younger, better known to the world simply as Cato. He was the senator who led the opposition to Julius Caesar in the last years of the Roman Republic, then killed himself rather than live under a dictator. He brought Stoicism into the mainstream. The Founding Fathers resurrected him as a symbol of resistance to tyranny. George Washington even put on a play about him in the bitter winter at Valley Forge.
Why does he matter today? Because at a time of crisis and calamity in Rome, Cato’s mission was to live life on his own terms, even (and sometimes especially) when those terms put him at odds with everyone around him.
Cato reminds us that there’s a thin line between visionaries and fools — a lesson especially important to entrepreneurs, authors, creative-types, or really anyone doing work that goes against the grain.
He remains both a shining example and a cautionary tale. Here are five lessons he can teach us about reputation, authority, fear, discipline, and legacies:
1) Master the power of gestures.
We talk about our times as the age of information overload, but public figures in all ages have had to compete to be heard. Ancient Rome was saturated with political talk: popular lawyers like Cicero consistently drew huge crowds, and the Roman people could regularly hear all-day parades of political speeches in the Forum. How could someone break through all that noise?
Details of two talks happening at Kings College as part of Stoic Week 2013
Monday 25th Nov., 10:30-15:00
Venue: 405 Lecture Room, Department of Philosophy, Philosophy Building, King’s College London (Strand, London WC2R 2LS).
10:30-11:00: Coffee Reception
11:00-12:30 – Speaker: Dr John Sellars (Birkbeck).
12:30-13:30: Lunch Break
13:30-15:00 – Speaker: Jules Evans (Queen Mary).
John Sellars will talk about the relationship between ancient Stoicism and modern psychotherapy, and then introduce a series of Stoic texts that describe therapeutic practices, followed by a discussion (the texts will be circulated in advance). Jules Evans will talk about how people use Stoicism today in the army and other contexts.
Free Tickets at Eventbrite: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/stoicism-and-its-application-in-modern-life-tickets-9395336705
Thursday 28th Nov., 16:30-18:30
Venue: K3.11 Raked Lecture Theatre, King’s Building, King’s College London (Strand, London WC2R 2LS).
Speakers: Prof Christopher Gill (Exeter) and Gill Garratt
Chair: Dr Raphael Woolf (KCL)
In his talk ‘Stoic practical ethics: Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius’, Prof Christopher Gill will explore the distinctive features of two versions of Stoic practical ethics and ask what they can contribute as guides to life for us today. Gill Garratt will comment on this from a psychotherapists point of view and explore the application of this ideas to work and other situations of everyday life.
Free Tickets at Eventbrite: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/stoicism-and-its-application-in-modern-life-tickets-9396257459
Contact details for further information:
Please try to read it this weekend and prepare yourself for Stoic Week!
Registration is now closed – thanks to all who registered – it will really help with establishing an evidence base for Stoicism!
NB. If you’ve come across Stoic Week just now – please do still take part and follow the Handbook, and share your experience of Stoic Week on the blog’s ‘how’s it going?’ posts! The end of week questionnaires (below) ask basically the same questions as the pre-week questionnaires – you could also click on them and calculate your score by yourself before and after you start following the Handbook (but please don’t actually submit the scales).
Please use your email address or you can also adopt a pseudonym (which can be virtually anything, though not something which someone else might also use, eg. ‘Seneca’), when filling out this questionnaires. The email address is preferable so that we can get in touch in a few months time to ask about the long-term effect of Stoic practices.
During the week: Read the Stoic Week 2013 Handbook, follow the daily exercises, and explore the suggested key Stoic theme each day.
To support your practice of Stoicism, please also use the following audio resources, all available for as mp3s for download, which are referred to in different parts of the Handbook.
There will also be articles uploaded daily to read on the blog during the week about different ways Stoicism is still used today, as well as the Stoicism Today magazine 2013 (released soon) for extra-reading.
You might also consider blogging about the week and make video diaries (and let @Stoic Week know on twitter), writing in with an idea for a guest piece on the Stoicism Today blog, and posting each day your reflections on this blog about how that day’s practices are going for you. Basically get in touch and we will share what you are doing!
After the week: At the end of the week, please fill out the same surveys, with the same email or pseudonym. Please use these links for the post-study questionnaires:
The statistical analysis of Stoic Week 2013 will be published early in the New Year. We will contact participants who have provided their email address a few months after Stoic Week to ask about the long-term impact.
I would love there to be more practical philosophy in schools. At the moment, the teaching of ethics and philosophy in schools and universities is almost entirely theoretical. Students learn that philosophy is a matter of understanding and disputing concepts and theories, something that only involves the intellect, not your emotions, actions or life outside of the classroom.
This is a consequence of the splitting off of psychology from philosophy at the beginning of the 20th century. Philosophy lost touch with the central and immensely practical question of how to live well, and that ethical vacuum was filled by psychology, and even more by pharmacology.
Ironically, the most evidence-based talking therapy – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – was directly inspired by ancient Greek philosophy, and uses many of its ideas and techniques. CBT picked up the baton which modern philosophy dropped, of trying to help ordinary people live happier lives. But it lacks the ethics, values and meaning dimension that ancient philosophy had.
Philosophy and psychology need each other. Philosophy without psychology is a brain in a vat, artificially cut off from emotions and actions and the habits of life. Psychology without ethics is a chicken without a head, focused entirely on evidence without any clear sense of the goal. Practical philosophy is a bridge between the evidence-based techniques of psychology, and the Socratic questioning of philosophy.
I wish that, when I was suffering from social anxiety and depression at school, someone had told me about Stoic philosophy, and explained their idea that my emotions are connected to my beliefs and attitudes, and we can transform our feelings by changing our beliefs. They might also have explained how CBT picked up the Stoics’ ideas and tested them out. Instead I had to find all this out for myself, and it took me several rather unhappy years. When I did finally come across ancient philosophy, it helped me enormously.
And I’m not alone in this. John Lloyd, the creator of Blackadder and QI, was a very bright boy at school, but never learned to reflect on the good life or how his thoughts create his subjective reality. He had to learn that himself, coming to philosophy after a five-year breakdown in his thirties. He now says: ‘I think every child should learn Stoic philosophy.’ Making Stoicism part of the national curriculum is quite a big ask. But wouldn’t it be great if there was at least some practical philosophy, some indication that philosophy can practically improve students’ lives?