Tag Archives: Ancient philosophers

Stoic Serenity 5.9: Thought Experiment 1

Cicero, Cicero, CICERO! (sing to the tune of “The Barber of Seville,” anyone?)

After learning about the Stoic principles for living in society, today we get to test ourselves in a thought experiment!

The Roman philosopher, politician, and wearer of many more hats, Marcus Tullius Cicero, (106-43 BC; placing him somewhere on the timeline between founder Zeno of Citium and good ol’ Seneca; read about Cicero here), wrote a book called On DutiesIn it, Cicero pointed out that sometimes cases arise in which humans weigh convenience against honor. Thus here is his thought experiment: Read more of this post

Stoic Serenity 2.1: Epictetus

Epictetus (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Yesterday we tested and applied our knowledge of what we learned in Chapter 1 when we created an imaginary dialogue about dealing with misfortune. With Chapter 2, we move on to a very important theme in Stoicism: distinguishing between What is in our power and What is not in our power.

At this point, continue to keep a daily record of your activities and explain, in as much or as little detail as you prefer, what happened in your experience, detailing your thoughts and reactions. Identify the interests and projects in your activities, and distinguish between what you are doing from the way you are doing it.

This chapter has us investigating the distinction between interests and projects, and ourselves as agents who engage in projects. As we’ve discussed throughout, other than the 4 Virtues which lie within ourselves, most everything else is technically indifferent. Remember that for tomorrow.

We’ll now turn our attention to one of the late Stoic teachers Epictetus and eventually see what he has to say about the “nature of human agency and what is ‘in our power’ as agents who engage in projects.” Read more of this post

Stoic Serenity 1.5: Marcus Aurelius on Misfortune & Indifferent Things

Marcus Aurelius (courtesy of Wikipedia)

If you have Seddon’s book, you already know that he uses Seneca’s Letters and Aurelius’ Meditations as the two texts for the course. It’s my intent to explore other philosophers later on in my studies, but for now we will stick to these two of the three most famous Stoic philosophers (the third is Epictetus).

For a very quick briefing, (for many more details you can visit the Wikipedia page here [very scholastic, I know]), Marcus Aurelius lived from 121-180 AD. He was Roman Emperor for the last 19 years of his life. One of the fascinating things about Stoicism is that the philosophers came from all walks of life, literally from emperors to slaves.

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Stoic Serenity 1.1: Zeno of Citium

Zeno of Citium (courtesy of Wikipedia)

So my formal journey into Stoicism begins with a debriefing on the founding father himself: Zeno of Citium.

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