Here in Stoicism Today, we have so far held and published two online Symposia, in which we solicited responses from experts on particular topics, about which there tends to be a lot of controversy and misunderstanding.
We began with the topic, “What Is Modern Stoicism?” We published two posts on that, which you can read by following these links:
- Symposium: What is Modern Stoicism? (responses by Christopher Gill, Donald Robertson,Piotr Stankiewicz, Massimo Pigliucci, Tim Lebon, Gregory Lopez, and William Irvine)
- What Is Modern Stoicism? – Additional Reflections from Sellars and Sadler
We then followed that first online symposium up with a second on another topic, “Women and Stoicism”:
- Symposium: Women and Stoicism (part 1) (responses by Antra Pavlico, Natasha Brown, and Britany Polat)
- Symposium:Women and Stoicism (part 2) (responses by Meredith Kunz and Kathryn Koromilas)
- Symposium: Women And Stoicism (part 3) (responses by Liz Gloyn, Debbie Joffe Ellis, and Andi Sciacca)
We are planning to do several more online symposia this year and next, focused on topics about which we will solicit responses from experts. But, as we were discussing this plan, Harald and I came up with a different idea. We’d like to invite you, our readers, to take part in the next online symposium that we will publish here in Stoicism Today.
The Topic For The Symposium
The topic for this third online symposium will be: “Stoicism and Passivity”. Many people wrongly associate Stoicism with a passive, even fatalistic attitude towards matters. It’s a pretty prevalent view – and criticism – of Stoicism from the outside. And yet, if we look at representative classic and contemporary Stoics, we find that they’re quite active within their world, their neighborhoods, their jobs and workplaces, their circles of friendship and family, just to name a few domains.
So here’s some of the questions and issues your contribution might consider:
- Why people think that Stoicism leads to a passivity and withdrawal from things, rather than an active, prudent engagement with them
- Whether some people use Stoicism as a kind of crutch or excuse, allowing them to disengage from unpleasant or difficult experiences, events, or people
- What resources Stoicism provides for facing difficulties and challenges we encounter without just seeking to escape them
- What role the Stoic virtues – prudence, justice, courage, temperance – play in helping us to live an actively good life
- Ideas about how to use Stoic practices and concepts like the “dichotomy of control” or “amor fati” in ways that lead to action rather than passivity and withdrawal
These aren’t a comprehensive list of potential topics to write on. There are plenty of other aspects you might find you have something interesting, insightful, or helpful to say something about.
You needn’t feel that you have to possess a great level of expertise to participate in this online symposium. People of all levels of study and from all walks of life are welcome to join in.
Guidelines For Contributions
We’re looking for pieces that are roughly between 400-1200 words. Any shorter than that, and you’re likely not saying all that much. Any longer – given that we anticipate having a lot of contributions – and we’d wind up with some really long blog posts!
Once you’ve written up your contribution, and you’re happy with it, the next step is to email your contribution both to Harald Kavli and to me, Greg Sadler, with the subject line “Stoicism Today Online Symposium”. Please attach your contribution as an MS Word document (since that’s easy for us to work with).
If you want to incorporate passages from Stoic writings into your contribution, we welcome that. You do need to make sure that you properly source them. Don’t assume that “quotes” you find on sites or in social media are actually by the writers to whom they are attributed. If the quote you want to use is from Epictetus, do make sure to say where in the Discourses or the Enchiridion it is found.
Since people often ask about this, we should say something about ownership and copyright. By sending us your piece, and having it published in Stoicism Today, you’re not signing it away forever! This is a blog after all. You’re free to publish your piece elsewhere, and remain so even after (or if) your contribution gets published here.
One last thing to point out is that, of course, we’re looking for good-quality, well-informed pieces providing some solid engagement with the topic. As the editors of Stoicism Today, Harald and I will be making the determinations on which pieces to incorporate into the online symposium posts. We’re hoping to get to read and publish a lot of excellent pieces!
We’d like to start getting responses from readers sooner than later, so that we can publish the first new online symposium post relatively soon. So, let’s say that the deadline for sending us your writing will be Saturday, March 5. If you can get a piece in earlier than that, we’d love to see it. And, if we need to extend that deadline, we’ll post about it here later on.