In elegant, economical prose, he urges us to become better, happier people by focusing on rational decision-making. This is Stoicism not in its popularised sense the grin-and-bear-it ideology of Victorian public schools but as self-empowerment through reasoned deliberation. Once you have learned to clarify which choices are available to you, and what their likely consequences will be, you will be better equipped to deal both with trials of adversity and the temptations of success. Certainly, translating ancient philosophical texts into guiding principles for modern living can lead to simplification and distortion.
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Shelves: philosophy "Some things are up to us, whilst others are not up to us. Up to us are conception, choice, desire, aversion and, in a word, everything that is our doing; not up to us are our body, our property, reputation, office and, in a word, everything that is not our doing.
Furthermore, the things up to us are by nature free, unhindered and unimpeded; while the things not up to us are weak, servile, subject to hindrance and not our own. Sellars offers a thorough history and "Some things are up to us, whilst others are not up to us.
Sellars offers a thorough history and introduction to Stoicism. By introducing the philosophical school through descriptions of the Stoics themselves, Sellars is able to formulate the evolution of Stoicism through the ages: starting with the early Stoics, Zeno and Chrysippus, to the later Stoics such as Seneca and Epictetus, finishing with the likes of Cicero and Plutarch, who did not outwardly practice the philosophy, but were interested in its ideas.
One of the difficulties which Sellars explores is the availability of primary sources on the philosophy and practice of Stoicism. This declined with Epictetus as the figurehead of the school.
Although Epictetus has two attributed texts: Discourse Dissertations and the Handbook Enchiridion , these are actually by Arrian, who recited what he remembered from the lectures by Epictetus.
Epictetus was ambivalent towards school texts, instead suggesting that one should exhibit his or her abilities not in fine words but in fine deeds. Upon reaching this, one will be a Stoic sage. This person will infallible, more powerful than everyone else, richer, stronger, free, happier, and the only person truly deserving the title "King". Lastly, Sellars examines the legacy of Stoicism, in which he chronologically explores the undulating interest in the philosophy and practice of Stoicism, bringing in examples such as the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian, closing the last pagan school in Athens, to the resurgence of interest in Cicero, during the Renaissance.
It is an art which is to be both understood and practiced spiritual exercises. The ideals to be virtuous are quite high, even seemingly unattainable like Socrates, Cato. We come to the philosophical part of stoicism. It contains logic, physics and ethics. Logic differs from the Aristotle syllogism. It contains if and then propositions. The source of knowledge is basically derived from experience and written down in form of propositions.
These statements are either assented or rejected based on the clear, accurate nature of the impressions we receive. The physics is chiefly materialistic like the body. It also has incorporeal like void, time,space and sayables. God is nature with consciousness. The soul is partially materialistic. Consciousness is not derived from the body. Another important debate dealt in this is regarding freewill and determinism.
The stoics try to overcome the conflict by using the argument of this world being the best of possible world made by God when we see holistically. Ethics: the stoics had a theory of self preservation which states that people follow ethics which helps in maximizing their interest as good, while damaging things as bad.
Though it sounds too crude, it is in fact the following of virtue. For eg if a dictator begans ruling the country, I may still be openly critical about him. This is because subjugation will damage my pscyhological freedom.
In certain cases even suicide is also justified like Socrates, Senecas death. On emotions,the stoics consider unbridled delight or sorrow to be caused by wrong perception.
They can be cured by applying rationality to the impression we receive. It has similarities with Buddhist idea of giving up attachment to concepts, so as to be able to accept the reality of things. Recurring paragraphs and excessive detailing may be a barrier for the layman.
A comprehensive bibliography further aroused my interest to know about the works of stoic philosophers.
68 - John Sellars on the Roman Stoics
Alex Lickerman, we have been fascinated with the parallels between Stoicism and Buddhism and are eager to learn more. Our guest today, Professor John Sellars, has also made similar observations by pointing out analogies between Stoicism and Zen Buddhism. He is the author of one of the most popular academic texts on Stoicism as well as the forthcoming Hellenistic Philosophy. He is also organizing a Stoicon event in London on October 21st and you can get a ticket here. This and much more in our interview below with Professor John Sellars. How did you first discover the philosophy and why did it have such a strong impact on you that you dedicated so many years to studying and understanding it? I first encountered Stoicism when I studied philosophy at university.
Lessons in Stoicism by John Sellars review – what ancient philosophers teach us about how to live
Shelves: philosophy "Some things are up to us, whilst others are not up to us. Up to us are conception, choice, desire, aversion and, in a word, everything that is our doing; not up to us are our body, our property, reputation, office and, in a word, everything that is not our doing. Furthermore, the things up to us are by nature free, unhindered and unimpeded; while the things not up to us are weak, servile, subject to hindrance and not our own. Sellars offers a thorough history and "Some things are up to us, whilst others are not up to us.