November 16

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Stoic Freedom

This class will introduce material from Epictetus' Encheiridion and Discourses following the last plenary lecture. In today's breakout session we will consider passages from these two texts, focusing on the Stoics' understanding of human freedom, and what is and what isn't under our control. We will also consider this topic in connection with the Stoics' understanding of our relations with others: friends, family, and all other human beings.

Before Class

  • Review the core principles of the Stoic school by listening to the above interview between Peter Adamson and David Sedley on the development of Stoicism in antiquity
  • Epictetus uses the metaphor of a boat at anchor to describe the situation of our lives in chapter 7 of the Encheiridion. For today’s class, come prepared to discuss the different parts of this metaphor.
  • How do the Stoics think of freedom in connection with our attachments to others? What does it mean to be a Stoic friend? Consider Epictetus’ views on this question in relation to Seneca’s views in Letter 9. How are these views compatible?

After Class