Epictetus on Stoicism’s fundamental principle.
This article of mine was written for The Partially Examined Life.
This week, Monday 2nd to Sunday 8th November 2015, is the fourth annual international Live Like A Stoic Week. The organisers, Stoicism Today, have provided lots of resources on mental exercises and principles of virtue to assist you in the endeavor, along with psychological reasons for aspiring to this practice in the modern world. So why I am here? To provide some less practical, historical and philosophical background to the deeply inspiring, pragmatic tradition of Stoicism. The Partially Examined Life’s recent podcast focused on the Enchiridion, the popular handbook from the later Roman Stoic Epictetus (55-135 CE). This was wise because about half of Epictetus’ work survives, whereas as they noted, sadly very little survives from the earlier Greek tradition.
Read the rest of this entry
The following is a guest post from Toby Coe.
In Book Two of The Politics we witness the exciting clash of two conflicting political ideologies, Aristotle’s politics being primarily based on pragmatic concerns; whilst Plato’s state is founded on more idealised principles. In this essay we shall examine Aristotle’s critique of Plato’s utopia and whether these criticisms are valid, concluding that Aristotle’s criticisms of Plato are broadly successful, because they expose Plato’s conception of happiness as false.
Aristotle has two main complaints concerning Plato’s state:
1) The practice of wives and children being held in common is both impractical and wrong.
2) Communism among the guardians will be inimical to their happiness and bad for the state. Read the rest of this entry
This week ending 1 December is the second annual international Live Like A Stoic Week. When I began research a few days ago in order to rush out a quick post for the event I had forgotten how much I was inspired by Stoicism, and consequently I my essays are too involved to finish in time.
After some pestering, Toby Coe has kindly come to the rescue with this brief analysis. He said he read the Meditations, so I hope he didn’t mean Descartes’ or this is going to be a very short post indeed.
The Roman Emperor and Stoic, Marcus Aurelius (pictured) writes:
“…philosophy doth consist in this, for a man to preserve that spirit which is within him, from all manner of contumelies and injuries, and never do anything either rashly, or feignedly, or hypocritically…”1
This is a very elegant summary of one of the core features of Stoic philosophy, namely, a moral and spiritual view of the task of philosophy. Philosophy is to provide a man the ability to cope with misfortune and not to be dominated by the passions that often make us attached to things that are fragile: fame, wealth and security.
Read the rest of this entry
(NB this article gets going with the 3rd paragraph.) Read the rest of this entry
Adverts annoy me. Particularly uninvited adverts in public spaces- especially in green, residential spaces. I often fantisise about vandalising them, a la Banksy. In recent months I was even irritated by an advert for charity. Now, I don’t mean that I got people to sign up to sponsor me for every ad I endured, I mean there was an advert for charitable purposes which frustrated me every time I passed by. Read the rest of this entry
This week TED has uploaded a talk enthusiastically endorsing meditation. TED and meditation, or ‘TEDitation’ -it’s a combination cynics are already dubbing an unsightly collision between facile pseudo-scientific hot air – and meditation. Seriously though, it’s been known for some time that technology and meditation is a match made in Nirvana- particularly in medicine. TED noted a few scientific reports into the effects of meditation that have been carried out in the last year, but I wanted to go back a bit further and simply summarise the key findings of those studies which came to light in my brief search. I’m not a scientist so I’m not going to explicate the primary sources. Read the rest of this entry
After my suggestions about an inclusive model for common ground between Christian and Buddhist philosophies the following discussion took place on another site. Thus we begin with a couple of ‘guest posts’ and then see my response to them. Read the rest of this entry