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January the 4th 2019: Important announcement

I have created a new blog for this community! Let's make it a new place to hang out and discuss for this community before Google+ will be gone forever 😊

https://www.socratesandthestoics.com/


October the 12th 2018: Important announcement

Since Google will be closing Google+ I have created a group on MeWe for daily discussions about Socrates and the Stoics. Come and join us :-)

https://mewe.com/join/socrates_and_the_stoics


Alternatively, you can join the mailing list here:

https://groups.google.com/d/forum/socrates-and-the-stoics

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Introduction to this collection
Welcome to all guests and followers of my Google+ Collection "Socrates and the Stoics"!

As a general rule this is a one-posts-a-day collection.

What's it all about?
The focus of the collection is the ancient Greek and Roman philosophy of happiness (eudaimonia) which was the most widespread philosophical tradition in the Western world from when it was first extensively introduced in the philosophical dialogues of Plato in Athens in the fourth century BC all the way up to the writings of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in the late second century CE. In other words, a period of more than five hundred years. Since the core concepts and questions in this tradition was defined by the Socrates we meet in Plato's dialogues - and since all the following thinkers in the tradition saw themselves as followers of Socrates - it seems to be both fair and informative to call it the Socratic tradition.

My goal in creating this collection is to offer a place where anyone who's interested in understanding the Socratic tradition (and in particular in Stoicism) can read and think about it together with like minded people. The goal is not to evaluate the Socratic tradition and most emphatically not to offer a place where anyone who can't stand that tradition can announce their opinion of it to the world.

To put it in other - but similar - words: I made the project public for two reasons. One is for people interested in stoicism to get a chance to read a carefully selected bit of stoicism every day. The other is to discuss stoicism with anyone with an honest interest in understanding it. It is extremely important to make this clear: The goal of this project is to think about what stoicism is all about. It is not to discuss the value or relevance of stoicism. If you're in doubt what I just wrote, go back and read it again.

So why do I focus almost exclusively on Stoicism rather than, say, Aristotle or Epicurus - or simply on Socrates?
Because I think Stoicism is the most advanced and well-argued version of the Socratic philosophy of happiness.

But why, then, do I focus almost exclusively on the Roman Stoic Seneca and not on, say, Epictetus or Marcus Aurelius?
Here are parts of the answer:

"Seneca remains, for us today no less than for the revivers of Stoicism in the sixteenth century, our best representative of ancient Stoicism. In his case as in few others we have the luxury of reading, with their full contexts, whole works of philosophy by a Stoic. He is still an excellent, indeed indispensable, source for those who may wish to learn about, and learn from, Stoicism and its outlook on life"

Seneca - Moral and Political Essays. Edited and translated by John M. Cooper and J. F. Procopé, Cambridge University Press, 1995, location 446

"Seneca’s writings constitute the fullest surviving evidence for the Stoic view of the emotions"

David Konstan, "Senecan emotions", in "The Cambridge Companion to Seneca", ed. by Shadi Bartsch, Cambridge University Press, 2015, p. 174

I think of Seneca's writings to Lucilius - his letters and the work "On Natural Questions" - as one very comprehensive introduction to Stoicism and I am currently mostly focusing on the letters in this collection. I highly recommend the very recent (2015) complete translation of the letters done by Margaret Graver and A. A. Long for Chicago University Press.

Does all this mean that I believe that Seneca is right about everything?
The answer is no :-) I don't even think it is enough to read Seneca to get a full picture of Stoicism. Cicero is extremely important as well - both as a source for orthodox Stoicism and as a very intelligent writer thinking about Stoicism.

The other sources for Greek Stoicism are extremely important as well. I highly recommend Brad Inwood's collection of sources for early Stoicism, "The Stoics Reader". It's a very comprehensive selection of texts with great comments and notes.

Rules
Write comments that adds value to the discussion. Examples could be: good questions, interesting perspectives from other schools of thought, from your own life or from the contemporary debate. Remember that the intended audience for this collection is everyone who wants to understand what Stoicism is all about. Not those whose main goal is to try to prove it wrong or those who want to use this collection as an occasion to talk about their favorite topic no matter how far from stoicism it may be. If you belong to any of the latter groups, you are almost sure to drive everyone here nuts. Find another place to realize your ambition.

Do not fight in the comment threads here. Not about politics, not about religion, not about anything.

Do not lecture others.

Do not try to moderate other people's comments. That's my responsibility and no one else's.

Do not be dogmatic. You're welcome to disagree with something but back it up with logic in a constructive and informative way. This also means: don't try to gain authority by saying things like "The Bible says" or "modern science has proven that".

Stay on topic.

If you can't respect these rules then don't waste your time writing comments here. Comments which I think don't add value to the community of people following this collection will almost certainly be deleted without further explanation.


Thank you for your interest!

Best wishes
Jannik



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Google+ will be gone in less than two months from now. If you have enjoyed following this collection consider joining my new group over at MeWe or subscribe on my new blog.

The group at MeWe: https://mewe.com/join/socrates_and_the_stoics

The blog:
https://www.socratesandthestoics.com/

Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/janniklindquist
Socrates and the Stoics
Socrates and the Stoics
socratesandthestoics.com
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3rd or 4th draft of some thoughts on Aristotle vs the Stoics. Still very basic. Expect changes :-) And hit the subscribe link if you want to stay updated when G+ is gone in a few months from now :-)
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Another post from this collection reincarnated as a post on my new blog :-) Don't forget to hit the subscribe link if you want to stay updated when G+ is gone (which will be in less than four months from now).
Self-sufficiency
Self-sufficiency
socratesandthestoics.com
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I'm still working on transforming material from this collection into posts on my new blog - and here is the latest result :-)

If you feel like commenting on the text then please do it over on the blog. Let's see if we can make it a new place to hang out and discuss for this community :-) Remember, that Google will be closing Google+ in a few months from now.
Stoicism and Evil Governments
Stoicism and Evil Governments
socratesandthestoics.com
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My new blog now has a proper web address :-) I'm still in the process of converting a lot of material from this collection into blog posts. Here's an example.
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A recommendation :-)
Fantham's Selection of Seneca's Letters
Fantham's Selection of Seneca's Letters
socratesandthestoics.blogspot.com
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Thank you all for another wonderful and inspiring year 😊

As you might have heard by now this will also be our last full year together here on Google+ since Google will closing the platform this coming April. I have created a new group for us over at MeWe - but I realize that a lot of you don't really like the idea of creating a profile on yet another social network. In fact, I understand you perfectly. That's one of the reasons why I'm happy to announce that I have created a new blog for this project 😊

Right now, I'm busy working my way through the more than 1230 posts and well above 20.000 comments we ended up with in this collection. My plan is to use the best discussions as basis for posts on the new blog. It's still very early days, though - the blog hasn't got a proper webadress yet, for example - but have a look around and feel free to comment on whatever you like. And don't forget to click the "Subscribe"-link, if you want new posts directly in your inbox 😊

All the best and a very happy new year to you all!

Cheers,
Jannik
Socrates and the Stoics
Socrates and the Stoics
socratesandthestoics.blogspot.com
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Cicero on the Stoic idea of bad passions vs good passions (he calls them "emotions" and "consistencies")

"This, then, is Zeno’s definition of an emotion (which he calls a pathos): “a movement of mind contrary to nature and turned away from right reason.” Others say, more briefly, that an emotion is “a too-vigorous impulse,” where “too vigorous” means “having deviated too far from the consistency of nature.” The different classes of emotions, they say, arise from two kinds of things thought to be good and two thought to be evil. Thus there are four possibilities: those arising from goods are desire and gladness, gladness being directed at present goods and desire at future goods; while those arising from evils are fear and distress, fear being directed at future evils and distress at present ones. For the things we fear when they are in prospect are the very things that bring distress when they are upon us. Gladness and desire, on the other hand, are concerned with beliefs about what things are good: desire catches fire from its attraction toward what seems good, while gladness is wildly excited at having obtained some longed-for object.

The Three Consistencies and Their Objects

By nature, all people pursue those things which they think to be good and avoid their opposites. Therefore, as soon as a person receives an impression of some thing which he thinks is good, nature itself urges him to reach out after it. When this is done prudently and in accordance with consistency, it is the sort of reaching which the Stoics call a boulesis, and which I shall term a “volition.” They think that a volition, which they define as “a wish for some object in accordance with reason,” is found only in the wise person. But the sort of reaching which is aroused too vigorously and in a manner opposed to reason is called “desire” or “unbridled longing,” and this is what is found in all who are foolish. Similarly there are two ways we may be moved as by the presence of something good. When the mind is moved quietly and consistently, in accordance with reason, this is termed “joy”; but when it pours forth with a hollow sort of uplift, that is called “wild or excessive gladness,” which they define as “an unreasoning elevation of mind.” And just as it is by nature that we reach out after the good, so also it is by nature that we withdraw from the bad. A withdrawing which is in accordance with reason is termed “caution,” and this, as they understand it, is found only in the wise person; while the name “fear” is applied to a withdrawing that is apart from reason and that involves a lowly and effeminate swooning. Thus fear is caution that has turned away from reason. For present evil the wise person has no affective response, but the foolish person responds with distress. For those who do not obey reason lower and contract their minds in circumstances which they believe to be evil. Hence the first definition for distress is this: “a contraction of mind contrary to reason.” Thus there are four emotions, but three consistencies, since there is no consistency which corresponds to distress."

- Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, 4.11-14


#stoicism #passions #emotions 
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"Struggle with yourself: if you have the will to overcome anger, it cannot overcome you. You begin to overcome it if it’s kept concealed and not given an outlet."

- Seneca, On Anger 3.13.1
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