Sat, Mar 06


Forum: On the Passions

What do the Stoics mean by the passions? Are they emotions? How do we deal with them?

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Forum: On the Passions

Time & Location

Mar 06, 2021, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM GMT+1

About the Event

Greetings fellow Stoics!

Today will discuss the passions! In our last meetup we introduced and reviewed the early Stoics Zeno of Citium and Chrysippus, while whose writings are largely lost, we have learned from secondary sources formed the foundations of Stoic philosophy and in particular layed out the groundwork for what the Stoics mean by the passions, the dichotomy of control, and other essential Stoic principles related to the mind. The passions were not just emotions to the Stoics. Emotions to us today seem nonchalant sensory reactions to things but to the ancient Stoics, the passions were moreso; they were strong judgment values of events. They emphasized that we shouldn't confuse our passions or judgment values of things with the events to which we are reacting. Furthermore, they advocated for controlling our passions. These events may be within or outside our control, but our passions are always within our control. We recommend that before you attend you read the following material, listed in a particular order to gradually introduce you to the topic:

  • (there is an English translation here of Cicero recounting Chrysippus' On the Passions)
  • (from our last discussion on the Stoic philosophy of mind)

You can also post further recommended reading on the topic or related topics in our discussion forum here:

For today's forum we will run the first hour as a discussion. Please submit Leitfragen/prompts you would like discussed either here in our forum or in our Telegram group chat (more on this below). Submit yours by Friday 05. March, 2021 and Steve will select a few to cover. During the second hour we will review techniques how to control or meditate on our emotions.

Before this forum, over the next week 27. February – 06. March, 2021, catch yourself whenever you become overwhelmed by an emotion or some passionate or emotional reaction and then:

  1. Reflect on your passion, that it is just a judgment, an opinion and nothing else external to you which you cannot control, that it is within your power to dictate that passion;
  2. Contemplate the sage, meditate on how the ideal Stoic – they who are perfectly wise, just, courageous, and tempered – would react and act in your situation;
  3. Reflect on why you are feeling the way you are. A note about this third one: do not overthink the cause of your passion, do not focus or ruminate so much on it that you become distressed about it.
  4. A helpful tip for doing this activity is to write while you do this, keep a daily journal to meditate on these more.
  5. Lastly, remember that not all emotions are passions. Some emotions the Stoics had allowed. Read which states: "Not all the psychological conditions we now call emotions or feelings will be found in the classes of passion below. You will not find the good feelings of the sage there: wish, caution, and joy. You will not find the preliminary impressions or pre-emotions (propatheia) to which even the wise person is subject. You will not find eros (sometimes translated as "sexual love," but in the wise person it does not include a desire for intercourse). Nor will you find physical pleasure or physical pain. These two phenomena are not passions according to the Stoa; they are indifferent values; the former is in accord with nature and the latter is contrary to nature."

A couple of words: (1) If you haven't already, you can join our Telegram discussion group and our announcements channel by contacting us with your cell number and we'll add you. (2) The link to this event will be posted between 20 and 10 minutes ahead of the start time, and we use for our video conferencing. (3) Lastly, we have recently been streaming our events live on youtube and saving them on file, especially for those who cannot make particular events; at the start of each event, Steve will of course ask if everyone is okay or anyone has a problem with this.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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