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)

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'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…

Podcast: John Sellars on 'Freedom and Indifference in Marcus Aurelius'

You can listen here to an audio recording of a lecture John Sellars gave on Marcus Aurelius at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

In his talk, John attempts ‘…to rescue Marcus Aurelius from the charge of rationalization made against the late Stoics by Isaiah Berlin, Bernard Williams, David Zimmerman, and others. Marcus’s retreat into his inner citadel is not a defensive response to unwelcome external circumstances but rather a reflection of his commitment to the central claims of Stoic value theory.’

Full chapter from Keith Seddon's Stoic Serenity on 'What is in Our Power'

Our five part special series which encouraged readers to explore Epictetus’ key maxim ‘what is in our power and what is not’ has just ended. It might now be handy to have a PDF of the whole chapter, which is uploaded here.

What is in Our Power, Part Five: An Exploratory Course by Keith Seddon

In our final part of our special series from Keith Seddon’s course Stoic Serenity, you can engage in two exercises to reflect on how you have applied and can apply Epictetus’ advice on what is in your power and what is not to your life.

Click below for the exercises! If you can, take 15 minutes to go through the exercises and please post below your reflections on this key Stoic maxim, and write about your overall thoughts on Epictetus’ approach. Is ‘knowing what is in our power and what is not’ at the core of Stoic philosophical practice?

What is in Our Power, Part Five

Epictetus 

More about Keith Seddon & Stoic Serenity: Keith Seddon is director of the MA and PhD programmes in Ancient Philosophy at Warnborough College, Ireland. He is a freelance academic and writer, who started the ‘Stoic Foundation’ in 2000, an educational trust, offering advice, support and a correspondence course (on which his book Stoic Serenity, from which our extract is taken, is based) in practical Stoic philosophy to anyone interested in taking up Stoicism as a philosophy to live by. Our thanks go to Keith for allowing his work to be reproduced on this blog.

What is in Our Power, Part Four: An Exploratory Course by Keith Seddon

In Part Four (of Five) of our series in which Keith Seddon explores the key Stoic theme of what is in our power and what is not, Keith discusses how it is that a Stoic can act wisely once he or she understands what is in his power. This is called the ‘reservation clause’.

Click below to find out more! If you can, take 15 minutes to go through the exercises and please post below your reflections on this key Stoic maxim!

What is in Our Power, Part Four

Part Five will be posted on Saturday.

More about Keith Seddon & Stoic Serenity: Keith Seddon is director of the MA and PhD programmes in Ancient Philosophy at Warnborough College, Ireland. He is a freelance academic and writer, who started the ‘Stoic Foundation’ in 2000, an educational trust, offering advice, support and a correspondence course (on which his book Stoic Serenity, from which our extract is taken, is based) in practical Stoic philosophy to anyone interested in taking up Stoicism as a philosophy to live by. Our thanks go to Keith for allowing his work to be reproduced on this blog.