I’d written a fairly long post on Stoicism and psychopathy to accompany this post but the computers here at work ate it. They log you off if you’re inactive for too long and the internet browser we use disabled any auto-saving features. The whole thing is gone and I’ll need to rewrite it at some point. If I can ever be bothered.
This could get me angry as all hell. But given I’m once again practicing Stoicism in the lead up to Stoic Week I’m able to view it from the correct perspective and keep my calm.
In a moment where abstract cognition fuses itself to a speculative thought liberated from the artificial constraints of post-Kantian philosophy, events like Stoic week serve to remind not to neglect the necessities of coping in our entangled materialities with our all too human weaknesses. Whatever Outside and whatever Inhuman forces that speculative reason discovers we nonetheless remain soft machines, hominids with brains ill-equipped to model or navigate our environments without introducing grave simplifications, errors, delusions; natural animals with natural cognitive powers that drive us to exit our natural being as part of our naturalness. Vulnerable bodies with fragile psychologies. Whatever else is going on in thought, our bodies remain stuck in the earth on trajectories towards their own inevitable annihilation. Everything we do is an attempt to cope. Stoicism is one of those philosophies that offers resources for how to cope better.
So with all those cheerful thoughts in mind Stoic Week begins at the start of November. This will be my third Stoic Week and I think it’s the fifth one they’ve undertaken. Massimo Pigliucci was so taken with the experience during last year’s Week that he now keeps a blog dedicated to Stoicism, and is writing a book on the subject. Here’s what you need to know:
You can now enrol for Stoic Week 2015 at the website below, using the enrolment key “Marcus” (without the quotes).
Follow our Twitter account @Stoicweek or see our Facebook group for more information. See below for further contact details.
What is Stoic Week?
Stoic Week is an online and international event taking place this year from Monday 2nd to Sunday 8th November. 2015 will be the fourth year in a row that Stoic Week has run. Anyone can participate by following the daily instructions in the Stoic Week 2015 Handbook, which will be published online. You will be following the practice of Stoic philosophers for seven days. You will also be discussing the experience of adapting Stoic ideas for modern living with other participants in our online forums. The aims of the course are to introduce the philosophy so that you can see how it might be useful in your own life and to measure its psychological benefits. This year’s theme is The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, the most widely-read of all Stoic authors.
What is Stoicism?
Stoicism is an ancient Graeco-Roman school of philosophy. It has an emphasis on practical training and lifestyle changes aimed at improving our moral character and psychological wellbeing. The Stoic school was founded around 300 BC by Zeno of Citium. At the core of Stoicism is the idea that virtue, or strength of character, is the most important thing in life. The central doctrine of Stoicism is that we should ‘follow Nature’. This means perfecting our own rational nature as human beings, through developing the cardinal virtues: wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation. It also entails expressing our social nature as human beings, by involvement in family life and society and by treating all human beings as brothers and sisters. So Stoicism is simultaneously a philosophy of inner strength and outer excellence. Many people today are interested in Stoicism because of its similarities to modern self-help literature and its influence upon the evidence-based psychological strategies employed in cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).
What sort of Course is it?
The course guides you through all the basic ideas of Stoicism. Each day has its own theme, exercises to practise, and reflections from original Stoic texts to consider. It has been written by the Stoicism Today team, an interdisciplinary group of academics and psychotherapists. You are also encouraged to take wellbeing surveys before and after the week, so we can measure the effectiveness of the course.
How can I Share my Experience of Stoic Week?
There will be very active discussion boards during Stoic Week on the course website. You can also share your reflections via social networks via our Stoicism Twitter account, and our Facebook and Google+ groups.
How can I Meet Other People Interested in Stoicism?
If you live in the UK, there is a one-day conference being held at Queen Mary, University of London, on Saturday November 7th. There are 300 places available, so you should book now to avoid disappointment. Videos and audio recordings of this event are planned, and will be uploaded on to the Stoicism Today website in the weeks that follow Stoic Week. You can see a video of last year’s London event: Stoicism Today Conference.
There are also other events being organised around the world. Get in touch if you are organising an event and would like it listed on the blog.
What Were the Findings of Last Year’s Study?
Last year, around 2,500 people took part in Stoic Week worldwide. Our findings supported the view that Stoicism is helpful. Participants reported a 16% improvement in life satisfaction, a 10% increase in flourishing, a 11% increase in positive emotions and a 16% reduction in negative emotions. We developed a special Stoic Attitudes and Behaviours Scale (SABS), which showed increases in Stoic attitudes (12%) and behaviours (15%) in the course of the week. It also showed a consistently positive relationship between adopting Stoic attitudes and behaviours and improvements in well-being.
What about Stoicism in Schools and Universities?
Are you a teacher or lecturer who might be interested in Stoic Week? Why not download the Stoic Week booklet and share it with your students to try out Stoicism for a week, and invite them to write up their experience for the blog….
Stoicism in the Media
In previous years there has been a lot of media interest in Stoic Week and Stoicism in general. If you would like to run a feature on Stoic Week, please get in touch. You can read of the previous media interest in Stoic Week on our Stoicism Today blog.
Whatever people’s philosophical feelings on the matter, there is no denying that Marcus’ Meditations are among the greatest texts of the ancient world.