Monday, November 15, 2021Plenary
The Stoics on Living According to Nature
This class will provide an introduction to Stoicism, a school of philosophy in the ancient world spanning almost 500 years that underwent considerable development from its origins in Greece through to its expansion to Rome. Our study in this unit will focus on the later period of Stoicism in the writings of Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. In today's class we'll explore some of the theoretical underpinnings of the Stoics' approach to the good life.
- Be able to situate the Stoics in their time and place
- Distinguish between earlier (mainly Greek) Stoicism and later (mainly Roman) Stoicism
- Form a good sense for the theoretical background of the Stoics’ approach to the good life
- Understand the basic principles that Epictetus promotes in living a Stoic life
- Read and annotate in Perusall the selections from Epictetus’ Encheiridion (or Handbook) and Discourses, compiled by his student Arrian
- N.B. at the end of the reading assignment you’ll also find a glossary of key Stoic terms
- Try to develop a sense for Epictetus’ understanding of the good life from the assigned reading. What primarily does living well require according to Epictetus?
- “Stoicism” – entry from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Dirk Baltzly)
- “Epictetus” – entry from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Margaret Graver)
- “To Be Happier, Focus On What’s Within Your Control” – short and accessible piece for Aeon Magazine on a core tenet of Epictetus’ view of the good life (Massimo Pigliucci)
- Slides for today’s lecture