Dear Curious Souls,
We're gearing up for our final workshop in our How to Live Philosophically series. We've traced the spirit of philosophy back to Socrates and his unrelenting examination of popular values, his enthusiastic effort to discuss what the good life really is, and his attempt to overcome mere opinion and seek truth. We then followed the thread of what the philosophical life means in Plato's ultimate dialogue on love -- the Symposium -- where we discovered how the examined life has everything to do with learning how to love genuinely, learning which objects are most worthy of our desire, and how to approach them in the ways that will bring about happiness.
Now we turn to the Stoics, who pick up on a particular line of Socratic thinking and develop it into a holistic life-practice. The Socratic inspiration behind Stoic philosophy is that the only thing that can really harm you is yourself -- that is, your own bad deeds. We should focus not on what others do to us, nor the accidents that befall us, but on our own actions, reactions, and character.
In our workshop on the Stoics we will read the Enchiridion (or "manual") by Epictetus, which works through questions of what is in our control, what we should care most about, and what we should learn to let go of. The goal for the Stoics is to overcome the anxiety produced by many of our strongest passions (fear, anger, attachment, loss, grief) and to bring about a healthy tranquility in the soul. We will also read selections from a book by William Irvine, a contemporary scholar of the Stoics, who focuses on the kinds of everyday exercises we should practice to bring about tranquility. The book is called "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" and it is a very friendly read for a broad audience.
I hope to see you at the next workshop!
Join us to:
3 Saturdays: August 26, Sept, 2, 9, 2:30-4:30 p.m. at Palio Espresso and Dessert House in SE Portland.
Learn more and register here.
Monica Vilhauer, founder of Curious Soul Philosophy, designs and leads workshops and retreats that approach philosophy as a way of life. She also offers one-on-one philosophical counseling for adults.