Stoicon Lands in the Big Apple
by Massimo Pigliucci
STOICON is the now recurring annual meeting for people curious about Stoicism, or who already practice the philosophy and wish to meet fellow prokopta, go in-depth on specific topics, or just hang around the authors of an increasing number of books on ancient and modern Stoicism. The event also takes place in synch with the annual Stoic Week, coordinated by Don Robertson, a chance to actually live like a Stoic for a few days while also helping the group at the University of Exeter to keep gathering data on whether and how Stoicism “works” when applied to the cultural setting of the 21st century.
This year, after a number of editions taking place in London and most recently organized by the excellent Jules Evans, STOICON is jumping the pond for a stint in New York City. Mark the date: Saturday, 15 October (and while you are at it, register now. See here for more information, including the program). It’s an experiment to test new waters, bring Stoicism to new audiences, and further evolve the Modern Stoicism movement (is that what it is?).
The idea is not to permanently relocate, however, but rather to see if we can involve several groups of organizers in different parts of the world. Who knows? 2017 may be the turn of Canada, or Australia, or perhaps Japan. We shall see, fate permitting, and let us know if you might be interested in hosting it.
Meanwhile, though, let me tell you a bit about STOICON ’16. We have a lineup of 14 speakers, some well known from events past, others brand new, in an attempt to mix continuity and novel directions.
The morning session will see a number of half hour talks, including:
- “Is Stoic virtue as off-putting as it seems?” by Julia Annas
- “Let us take care of ourselves: Stoic exercises and Foucault” by Cinzia Aruzza
- “Albert Ellis: A Model of Resiliency, Compassion, and Stoicism in Action” by Debbie Joffe Ellis
- “Stoicism as a wellbeing intervention in the workplace, prisons and mental health charities” by Jules Evans
- “Can you be a Stoic and a political activist?” by Chris Gill
- “On Becoming an Insult Pacifist” by Bill Irvine
- “Stoicism, mindfulness, and cognitive therapy” by Don Robertson
- and “Hard Truths and Happiness in Stoicism” by John Sellars.
The group will then break out for lunch in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, and reconvene for a series of more targeted workshops, running in parallel:
- “Introduction to REBT as a Healthy and Empowered Way of Life” again by Debbie Joffe Ellis
- “Poor but happy? Aristotle and the Stoics on external goods” by Gabriele Galluzzo
- “Does Stoicism work?” by Tim LeBon
- “Sati & Prosoche: Buddhist vs. Stoic Mindfulness in Theory & Practice” by Greg Lopez,
- Struggling With Anger? Useful Stoic Perspectives and Practices” by Greg Sadler
- and “Everything you wanted to know about Stoicism but were afraid to ask” by yours truly.
We count on our fellow Stoics to have stamina, because after the morning session and afternoon workshops we will hear Ryan Holiday, best selling author of The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, deliver the keynote speech, which will be followed by a social gathering for general chatting.
We are also introducing a new social & fundraising effort this year, which will take place after the conference will be over: people who will be able to book in time will join several of our speakers at a number of restaurants in Manhattan (one group per speaker per restaurant) for a nice meal and a more intimate and relaxed discussion with Bill, Cinzia, Debbie, Don, Gabriele, Greg S., Ryan, or myself.
After more than a millennium and a half of hiatus and indirect influence (on fellows like Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Montaigne, Spinoza, and so on) Stoicism is coming back to life, shaping up as an ecumenical big tent for people of different religious inclinations (from Buddhists to Christians to atheists) and political persuasions to come together and explore whether the life of virtue really is the good life that Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius promised. Join us for STOICON ’16 in New York City and contribute to the discussion!
Massimo Pigliucci is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He is an evolutionary biologist and a philosopher of science, whose writings can be found at platofootnote.org and howtobeastoic.org. He has written or edited ten books, most recently Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem (University of Chicago Press). He grew up in Rome, reading Seneca and Cicero, but re-discovered Stoicism only recently. He sports two philosophy-related tattoos…