or, How do I learn more about Stoicism?
The following resources include, but are not excluded to:
A link to our youtube channel where you can access all of our recorded events. Keep in mind however that not every event has been video or audio recorded.
Written minutes (Protokols or recorded notes) from previous events.
A spreadsheet of Stoicism-related resources where you can learn more about Stoicism! These include online articles, book references, podcasts, youtube channels and videos, and more.
and recommended books or talks by guest speakers.
This depository is not static and the more we practice, the more we learn, and the more we discover, and the more we recommend, the more this will grow.
Are you interested in getting a broad yet well-rounded and robust introduction of Stoicism? We've shared some of our favorite books on the philosophy and related fields below for those interested in knowing more about Stoicism from one of the leading philosophers, psychologists, or other researchers and experts working in the field, and many of whom have taken the philosophy to live it!
William Irvine has modern readers in mind when he wrote this book. He contextualizes Stoicism in the present, understanding that what many people today are looking for – when searching for a set of realistic values they can adopt and practice – isn't necessarily a doctrinal set of moral obligations or for many today religion. He briefly introduces what philosophy really is, contrasting its nature in antiquity and present day, and summarizes the history of philosophy in the Hellenistic period and especially that of the Stoics. From there, he divides the book into three parts. The first is on psychological techniques the Stoics used to enhance resilience, gratitude, our control over things within our power, and our control over those negative emotions we'd rather not rule us.
The second is advice the Stoics gave others on how to deal with specific psychological, value-based, or life-reckoning things out of our control: anger, grief, and death for example. The third and last part summarizes the decline of the Stoic school over the last millennium, and its re-emergence and modern re-interpretation today.
Irvine understands his audience and some of the misgivings we may have for the ancient Stoics' recommendations. For example, his book is famous for proposing re-framing the dichotomy of control as a trichotomy of control: between things within our control and outside of our control, but also those things which we can influence but for which we cannot effect the outcome. And in fact Irvine and this book are famous for having proposed many modern interpretations of Stoic ideas.
There is something strikingly missing in his text though: Stoic physics and Stoic logic. There is somewhat of a discussion on that part of Stoic physics in his chapters on fatalism (which is perhaps not the most accurate term one can use to describe principle; the actions of some of the Stoics like Cato would have us think of them by far non-fatalistic) and the dichotomy of control, however almost the entire rest of the book is based on Stoic ethics, which is probably because the popular interest in Stoicism is from psychological and interpersonal points-of-view.
Nevertheless, his book shouldn't be ignored because of this. Most popular introductory books on Stoicism emphasize ethics over logic and physics, and sometimes completely ignore the latter two. Moreso Irvine does a great job of highlighting some of the main concerns Stoics had over particular facets of over lives, going into depth on their advice on reacting to anger, death, grief, fame and fortune, and more, dedicating entire chapters on each of these. On this point this is already something above and beyond other introductory books on the topic.
Like Irvine, Pigliucci has modern readers in mind when having written this book. He like Irvine appeals to readers who are searching for a value-based philosophy by which to live or with which to cope with daily problems and stresses, not a doctrinal all-or-nothing club. He again first introduces the philosophy's history but also why he personally started practicing Stoicism himself and why the philosophy stands out as a viable modern option among other philosophies, religions, and other moral systems on offer today.
Pigliucci structures his book according to the three Stoic disciplines of desire, action, and assent, modeling his exploration of Stoic philosophy on the discipline-field-virtue scheme developed by Hadot and Robertson.
For example, in the first part on the discpline of desire – what he calls Stoic acceptance – he explores only those Stoic principles which both highlight the virtues of courage and temperance and have especial relevance in Stoic physics, including the dichotomy of control, living according to nature, and Logos, each with their own devoted chapter, which is a little more in Stoic physics than Irvine.
Pigliucci like Irvine does do a solid job of summarizing Stoic ethics. Concerning the emotions and passions, and other daily stresses and events outside of our control like death, love, anger, and so forth, Irvine is a better source in terms of comprehensiveness. For a brief introduction, however, Pigliucci is good. What both Pigliucci and Irvine don't do, however, is discuss in more detail Stoic logic. To be sure, Stoic logic does imply things like the sovereign principle or discerning between your judgments of events and events themselves. But if you're looking for a source on an academic review of the Stoics' use of rhetoric and first- and second-order predicate logic, these don't go further than their implications, not the logical mechanics of which we have a better comprehension today.
What's perhaps most endearing about Pigliucci's writing is that it feels personal. While writing this he had been in Rome and discusses where he was walking when he came upon a certain insight, or had an internal conversation with Epictetus on an issue. He also shares details of his own values, character, and life to share with his audience how he himself has used Stoicism for self-improvement. Take for example his sharing of how his atheism doesn't get in the way of debating politely or civilly with religious audiences because what Stoicism has taught him is that regarding interpersonal interactions people react more to one's character than to the content of their speech.
Resources from our Discussions
Berlin Stoics Recordings and Minutes
Berlin Stoics Discussion Sources
Below are two links, one a .pdf version and the other a .xlsx version, to our comprehensive spreadsheet of Stoic resources, including texts, books, podcasts, videos, and more. It's still a work in progress, but this should provide a solid basis off of which to start or continue your journey. The two main sources not yet listed are translations of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, the various of which we have still yet to compile accordingly, and a compehensive list of modern books on Stoicism. The spreadsheet doesn't list the sources in any particular order, but categorization is instituted enough so that you may find it easier to look around. Check back here periodically for updates! The date of the most recent update is written below the links for reference. Enjoy!
Updated: 12. June, 2021 at 22:32 CET