Stoic Week 2016 Demographics Report
by Tim LeBon
This report gives the demographics for Stoic Week 2016 which took place between October Monday 17th – Sunday 23rd October. Future reports will follow providing analysis of how taking part affected well-being.
The headlines are:
- The ratio of males to females was 66% to 33%.
- Over 43% of respondents are from USA.
- The majority of respondents have never participated in Stoic week before.
- Less people completed the questionnaires compared to last year (1798 down from 2503) although the numbers registering for Stoic Week actually increased (3365 up from 3080).
Below are 5 tables summarising all the facts and figures and 2015 comparisons
Table 1: Stoic Week 2016 by gender
Table 2: Stoic Week 2016 by age
|Europe (outside UK))||310||17||15|
|South & Central America||54||3||1|
Table 3: Stoic Week 2015 by geographic location
|Number of times participated in Stoic Weeks previously||Total||%||2015 %|
Table 4: Stoic Week 2016 : Previous participation
|Knowledge of Stoicism||Total||%||2015 %|
|I know a bit||705||39||38|
|I know quite a bit but not an expert||288||16||16|
Table 5: Stoic Week 2016 : Self-rating of knowledge of Stoicism
Whilst the overall picture is not unhealthy, here are some questions to consider – answers please in the comments section!
- Why does Stoic Week seem to appeal more to men? How can we get the gender ratio more equal?
- Can Stoic Week spread to other geographical areas? What would facilitate this?
- Is it realistic to expect people to participate more than once in Stoic Week? If so, would changing the materials help?
- What should we base the handbook on next year? We’ve had Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. Should it be based more on Seneca? Or is it fine as it is?
Let us know your thoughts.
Revamp the handbook and go with Seneca next year.
In answer to the four questions:
•Why does Stoic Week seem to appeal more to men? How can we get the gender ratio more equal?
Maybe men need Stoicism more than women. If women want to partake they will, otherwise they will just get on with quietly being Stoic which they are well trained in, in that they have to put up with us men. As to ‘why bother about the gender ratio’ – apply a little acceptance and accept it as it is.
•Can Stoic Week spread to other geographical areas? What would facilitate this?
Of course it could. What is needed is sufficient people in those areas to want to facilitate and/or take part in it.
•Is it realistic to expect people to participate more than once in Stoic Week? If so, would changing the materials help?
Why would anyone want to participate more than once – it is an introductory course. Either one is interested, in which case one’s study will have moved on, or one is not interested, in which case why repeat the experience.
•What should we base the handbook on next year? We’ve had Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. Should it be based more on Seneca? Or is it fine as it is?
If you are truly looking to see what it is in Stoicism that is beneficial then different themes makes sense. By all means look to Seneca as a new source of supportive quotes, but why not look at the Stoic physics and how this supports and informs the Stoic psychology and training. By comparing results year on year you will be able to see which themes have the greatest effect on newcomers.
In fact it would be interesting to compare the various results for newcomers as against existing students of Stoicism. One ought to detect a greater improvement in newcomers as they will be starting from a lower base level. Any improvements ought to be less marked in experienced students. If there is no difference then one is dealing with a placebo effect or a feedback issue regards participants wishing to report improvements after putting in a week’s effort.
With apologies if I am being a little flippant in the tone of my suggestions. The intent is serious.
To broaden appeal, you might consider adding program content that examines Stoicism’s similarities with other disciplines such as Buddhism, Christianity, Existentialism, etc. Add emphasis to modern authors who’ve written about Stoicism but aren’t necessarily Stoics: Pierre Hadot, Martha Nussbaum, Nietzsche; plus others whose works bear important parallels with Stoicism: Alex Lickerman, Eckhart Tolle, Robert Greene. Base the handbook on themes rather than authors so that it’s less like a syllabus and more like a guide to the challenges of modern living that offers advice from all of the Stoics. You might consider content on the role that Stoicism, or at least Stoic-like principles, have played in the lives of historical figures: Nelson Mandela, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King. To me, the great value of Stoicism is the strength, confidence and power that it provides to the individual — and the path it offers to influencing those around us for the better. My advice would be to ramp up that message a bit and to present Stoicism as a birthplace of ideas and attitudes that have moved mountains.
I think that stoicism is not for everybody. Its appeal would be natural to some but completely alien to others. Philosophers, and students in philosophy, would be a natural group who would be attracted to stoicism either for intellectual reasons and way of life option. The objective of the Stoic Week could be directed to deepen the scholarship of this philosophy instead of garnering a wider audience. Inclusion of Hellenistic Stoicism to supplement Roman Stoicism should be considered.
I am not sure I agree totally with this. I think following this way of life is a very practical philosophy, thinking and talking about it isn’t enough, doing is the only way. Please don’t make this for the ‘ elite’ it has benefits for everyone.
I did not receive a notice about the Stoic Week until it was upon us. Hence, my schedule only allowed for a very little reading. Also, I never received notifiicartion that I was signed up, though it now looks like I was. This process could use some help.
An interesting way to be introduced to Stoicism is Tom Wolfe’s “A Man in Full.” I’m interested in learning the fundamentals and would like the name of a good introductory book (Is there a god involved? If the object is to avoid that which we can’t control, is prayer therefore antithetical? Etc.). I’ve read MA’s “Meditations.”
To spread to other geographical areas, you would have to translate the materials into other languages. There are probably good translations of the texts used (Epictetus etc.) into many languages, often including old, public domain translations that can be used. You would then have to find channels of advertising through which you can get people’s attention.
For people to take part several times, you would have to develop something like an advanced course.
Seneca is the ultimate Stoic and the most accessible writer in my opinion.
You ask three questions. The first has many answers. The second has only one answer and the third will be beset with many opinions that relate to the logic of the Stoic physics.
1. The more books you read the more you will have the grounding to understand the nature of the traditional Stoic teachings, but be sure to read the books that look to the study of the historic Stoicism, rather than the books that set out to offer a ‘modern’ cut down version. A A Long’s ‘Stoic Studies’ is a very useful but lengthy book. But for a good introductory outline as to the complete nature of Stoicism, despite its criticisms, Professor Gilbert Murray’s 1915 lecture ‘The Stoic Philosophy’ is well worth a read. And then along with this study, the other ancient sources offer much – Seneca, Epictetus, Diogenes Laertius etcetera. Any internet search will lead you to many of these books as well as other sources.
You may also want to look at Chris Fisher’s site ‘Traditional Stoicism’.
2. Yes, in Stoicism, there is a God involved. It is seen to be one and the same as the whole Cosmos which is seen to be imbued with a rational consciousness – a God of which you are a ‘spark’, for in Stoicism all is one.
3. The object is not to avoid that which we cannot control. That would be an impossibility and Stoicism does not look to the impossible. Part of the object of Stoicism is to have the right relationship with that which we cannot have total control over, and that involves seeing matters for what they truly are and not as we may believe them to be or as we may wish them to be.
The object of Stoicism is for the individual to try to live ‘in accord with Nature’ and what this means you will discover as your studies progress, always assuming that you look to the whole of the Stoic teachings that includes its physics, logic and ethics, rather than just the ethics that so many today treat in such a way that they reduce their version of Stoicism to little more than CBT.
So when you have looked at the whole of Stoicism and understand our relationship to the one God (the pantheistic god that is the whole Cosmos) you will see that prayer is not antithetical – the Stoic is guided to be grateful and where else will one direct one’s gratitude than to God and this is done in part in the form of prayer – but more especially this gratitude is expressed through the living of the Stoic life. (See Cleanthes’ hymn to Zeus.)
At the same time, within Stoicism it is accepted that one can seek guidance from the one God through various means – including prayer. So instead of pleading for God’s intervention to guide things towards how one would like them to be, one instead may through prayer seek guidance and help to ensure that matters turn out as they ought to turn out.
The idea of prayer and communing with God is rational in light of the logic of the Stoic physics and is an entirely rational aspect of the Stoic’s life.
I hope my reply does not put you off before you have time to investigate matters more fully.
Much appreciated. I’m going to dig in to your suggestions.
Overland Park, Kansas
I have held a set of lifelong beliefs and always had a copy of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius at hand. But I never knew that this had a name until recently. I am a Hindu by religion and have also some introduction to Buddhist beliefs and find a remarkable similarity of view. I suspect that the beliefs and practice of Stoicism will have considerable import and interest in India, a civilization that has always been welcoming of different thoughts, beliefs and religions.