Stoic Camp New York 2018, Seneca edition by Massimo Pigliucci and Greg Lopez

 Stoic Camp New York is happening again, with the fourth edition scheduled for August 23-26 at Stony Point, in New York’s scenic Hudson Valley. We got the idea for Stoic Camp from the original one (so far as we know), which is organized regularly by the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Wyoming. In both cases the idea is to spend a few days fully immersed in Stoic philosophy and practice, to further our understanding of Stoicism and get us going on (or renew our commitment to) a path to a more virtuous and eudaimonic life.

The first two editions of Stoic Camp NY were focused on Epictetus’ Handbook and Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, though we also used materials from Cicero’s De Finibus, Diogenes Laertius’ Lives and Opinions of the Eminent Philosophers, and even Plato (the Euthydemus, which accounts for why the Stoics thought virtue was the chief good).

 Last year we kept some of the basic introductory material, including discussions of why one may need a philosophy of life, as well as some background on the major Hellenistic philosophies, but revised the curriculum to shift the focus to Seneca. This is also what we’ll do this year, with readings divided into four major blocks: practical wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice – one each for the four cardinal virtues of Stoicism. 

Stoic Camp NY also includes practical components, for instance exercises in writing out mini-essays on how Stoicism applies to our personal life and situation, group discussions, as well as one-on-one “counseling” time with the organizers, during which participants may pose questions they do not feel comfortable to discuss in the group sessions.

The experience is also heightened by the setting: Stony Point is a retreat set near Bear Mountain, on the Hudson Valley north of New York City, easy to reach by car or bus. Camp hospitality is wonderful, and the food is locally grown and prepared on the premises, which adds a component of conviviality to the three-day retreat.

If you are interested in signing up for Stoic Camp NY 2018 you can go here for a single room (6 slots), or here for a double room (14 slots with a roommate). Registration opens at 6pm on Thursday 3/8, and is on a first-come-first-serve basis. The registration fee ($500 and $350 respectively) covers everything other than transportation, and is at cost (Greg and I do not make money out of this, though our own expenses are covered). 

The first three editions of the Camp were very successful, with participants providing enthusiastic (well, for Stoics…) feedback, as well as very useful suggestions for improvements, wich we keep taking into consideration and implementing every year. So come and join us for an immersive, spiritually and intellectually uplifting experience of practical Stoicism. As Epictetus aptly put it: “If you didn’t learn these things in order to demonstrate them in practice, what did you learn them for?” (Discourses I, 29.35) And should you not be able to join us in August, keep in mind that Massimo is doing a similar thing in Rome, right around the corner from the Colosseum, in July (details here). Fate permitting, of course.

Author: Gregory Sadler

Editor of Stoicism Today

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