Tuesday, November 17 – Monday, November 23, 2020

Live Like a Stoic Week

Tuesday, November 17
Day 1: Nature and Fate

Wednesday, November 18
Day 2: Virtue as the Only Good

Thursday, November 19
Day 3: Wishing With Reservation

Friday, November 20
Day 4: Minding Impressions

Saturday, November 21
Day 5: Minding Impressions (cont’d)

Sunday, November 22
Day 6: Cultivating Indifference

Monday, November 23
Day 7: Expanding Our Circle

Over the next seven days you will be putting some of the Stoics’ views of the good life into practice. The main goal is to adopt the Stoics’ notion of virtue as the only good, understood as a kind of wisdom. On each day of the week you will be assigned a particular activity to complete. Some of these activities will ask you to complete a task, reflect on a few questions, or engage in a thought experiment. Others will involve cultivating habits, changing your behavior with others in a certain way, or going about your everyday routine a little differently.

All of the philosophical exercises for this week are located on this page and you will need to complete them daily. This will consist of two steps:

  1. At the start of each day in the morning, you should read the assigned exercises and carry them out—you can keep this assignment open on your phone throughout the day for easy access.
  2. At the end of each day in the evening, you should submit in the designated dropbox a short private journal entry (1-2 paragraphs) on what you’ve learned.

Class periods and dialogue sessions that occur during the week will be devoted to discussing and working on your exercises individually or in groups. On the last day of this week (Monday, November 23) you will meet in your breakout section to have a “postmortem” discussion on your experiences putting the Stoics’ views into practice.

Your final assignment for this unit will be a synthesis essay on how/whether the approach to living well that you have put into practice this week has deepened your understanding of the Stoics’ views and/or affected your own understanding of the good life.

Specifically, you should review your journal entries for this week and write an essay of approximately 1000 words summarizing your final reflections on the Stoics’ approach to the good life. Your essay should engage with at least one of the theoretical views that we have covered in this unit, such as the Stoics’ view of virtue as the only good, the emphasis they put on minding our impressions, their idea that we should focus only on what’s under our control, their understanding of our place in nature, or their views on positive versus negative emotions. Cite the texts we have studied where possible. This essay is due on Saturday, November 28To submit it, click here and scroll down to access the “Dropbox for Synthesis Essay” under the section titled “Select Day.”

Readings for the assigned exercises and evening reflections this week are drawn from:

  • Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Books 1–6, translated by Christopher Gill (Oxford University Press, 2013)
  • Epictetus, How to Be Free: An Ancient Guide to the Stoic Life (The Encheiridion and selections from the Discourses), translated by A.A. Long (Princeton University Press, 2018)