I just finished reading this (draft) article by John Sellars, “Philosophy as Medicine: Stoicism and Cognitive Psychotherapy”. It’s a good read even as a draft, and came to me at an opportune time. I don’t think this counts as a citation in his notes, but I will point you to the original publication link. He begins by touching on the history of philosophy as a therapeutic, not for philosophy itself by for our minds, souls. This is be written for a non-Stoic audience, and will probably touch much ground that we have covered here, and I would suspects all my readers have covered elsewhere.
The core part of the article extracts three practices of Stoic therapy:
I: Assigning Value
II: Assuming the Worse
III: Good out of Bad
I won’t steal his’ thunder by going into depth here, but these must surely look familiar to the practicing Stoic as The Discipline of Assent, Premeditatio Malorum, and … well, most of Seneca. The paper is twenty-five pages long, and also briefly touches on some Epicurean doctrine. There are a few things I might take issue with at nit-picky level, but considering it’s for a non-specialized audience it’s very good. One such thing being, “The ideal Stoic life is thus not one completely devoid of emotion, but it is one free from unpleasant emotions.” This does a good job at refuting the misconception that Stoics are Vulcans, but doesn’t quite get us to “virtue is the only good.”
I would like to share one short but excellent pull quote, however (with the smallest of editorial license):
“[I]n life, it is only through apparent adversity that we get to prove our character.”
For a little more on the “good passions,” see this older post here: https://mountainstoic.com/2017/06/22/good-passions/
I wanted to drop a quick link to a blog I thought you might find of interest. It’s a system (new to me) for organizing what one reads. Enjoy.
The Slipcase Method, or “Why I’m reading so slowly.”
The Three Τόποι of Epictetus are a recurring theme here, and I want to draw your attention to several episodes of Chris Fisher’s “Stoicism on Fire” podcast.
Specifically, his discussion here:
Episode 7 – Stoic Spiritual Exercises
Episode 8 – The Theory of Assent
Episode 9 – The Discipline of Assent
Episode 10 – The Theory of Desire
Episode 11 – The Discipline of Desire
Episode 13 – The Theory of Action
Episode 14 – The Discipline of Action
These are part of the larger “Path of the Prokopton” series on the Podcast.
Stoicism on Fire Podcast.
If you enjoy the writing of Chris Fisher at TraditionalStoicism, I want to point you towards his podcast, which is now in its 14th episode.
I think you’ll find the quality and effort that goes into the writing and podcast sets Chris apart from many online commentators. His posts usually have 15+ citations, and are always well researched.
Stoicism on Fire fills a needed niche in the Online Stoa, and I hope you’ll give it a listen.
You can now submit questions via #CuriousCat , if you are so inclined.
Please check out https://curiouscat.me/MountainStoicWV
I came across this article which discusses what Hadot calls “spiritual exercises” in some depth. The author takes exception to that label, but I think it suits just fine. I had recently joked in a conversation that if I had a dollar for every scholar who said something along the lines of “I won’t detail exactly what the exercises in Epictetus are…” that I’d have a goodly number of dollars.
Braicovich does not say this, however. He notes 18, although (spoiler alert), he later pares that down significantly. Either way, it’s worth the read.