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.
Chris Gill explores passages from Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus which discuss how to develop a Stoic sense of purpose, how to incorporate Stoic value in one’s life, and how to develop emotional resilience.
Click here to listen to Chris’ talk and click here for a handout of the passages he discusses. The talk was followed by a Q&A session with Chris Gill and Gill Garratt.
With thanks to Cristobal at KCL for recording this talk, which was delivered in November 2013 as part of international Stoic Week.
In this talk at Kings’ College London, Jules Evans discusses how Stoicism has experienced a revival in CBT and positive psychology. He also discusses concerns about the ‘politics of wellbeing’, and the need to encourage discussion, rather than dogmatism, about what it is that constitutes a ‘good’ life. The revival of Stoic philosophy has the strength of offering ‘space for ethical discussion’. In addition, he discusses the perennial Stoic difficulty of establishing supportive communities, before concluding that Stoicism’ greatest strength is the idea of serving something really worthwhile in life, such as the good or morality, and how the philosophy is especially useful in schools, prisons, adult education.
In the Q&A which followed the talk, the discussion turns to how Stoicism can work as a philosophy if one does not believe in a providential world view.
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.’
John Sellars and Peter Adamson discuss the Roman Stoics in the History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps
Our best evidence for Stoic practices comes from the later, or so-called ‘Roman Stoics’, such as Epictetus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. It is these three authors who provide our most substantial evidence for Stoicism. But who were these Stoics, and what did they write? And how were these authors different from earlier Stoics? And what is it that differentiates ‘philosophy as a way of life’ from ‘philosophy’?
To find out more, click here for a podcast with John Sellars, lecturer of philosophy at Birkbeck College London, in a discussion with Peter Adamson, Professor of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy at UCL London, who organises the wonderful History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps podcast series.
A discussion between John Sellars, lecturer of philosophy at Birkbeck College London, Antonia Macaro, author of Reason, Virtue and Psychotherapy, and Julian Baggini, co-founder of The Philosopher’s Magazine, on adapting Stoicism for the modern-day. What areas of Stoic philosophy are easily adaptable for the modern-day? And what are the ‘problem-areas’ of ancient Stoic philosophy which require a more careful, discerning approaching? Is ‘virtue as the only good’ too extreme a position? Should a modern Stoic adapt this, or should he or she see some external things as having inherent value? Is the Stoic psychological model of beliefs leading to emotions an accurate model? And do we have as much control over our attitudes as the Stoics claimed? And how much control do we have in life anyway? These and other questions are probed in this fascinating discussion.
What do you think on the challenges of adapting Stoicism to the modern-day?
Antonia Macaro and Julian Baggini, authors of the book The Shrink and The Sage, and of the FT column of the same name. Julian Baggini runs the website microphilosophy, on which the above discussion is hosted.
On a different note, there will be a two-week break for posts on Stoicism Today. Our weekly posts will resume on September 7th.
Want some listening material for Stoic week? I would strongly recommend Peter Adamson’s podcasts from his series ‘History of Philosophy Without any Gaps‘. In particular:
That list of six recommendations gives you one a day, each 20 minutes or so, ideal for listening to while on the bus, train, or walking. Available via iTunes.