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Experiments in Stoicism. or Apathy on the Porch as the Good Life. ἀνέχου καὶ ἀπέχου. “ All philosophy lies in two words, “Bear and Forebear”. Stoicism. Figures in Stoicism. Eudaimonia. What is the Good Life? What is the end ( telos ) of human existence? What is happiness?

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Experiments in Stoicism

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experiments in stoicism

Experiments in Stoicism


Apathy on the Porch as

the Good Life

ἀνέχου καὶ ἀπέχου

“All philosophy lies in two words,

“Bear and Forebear”


What is the Good Life?

What is the end (telos) of human existence?

What is happiness?

"eu" ("good") and "daimon" ("spirit")

“flourishing” “blessedness”

what is good
What is good?

Stoicism’s simplified list:

  • Fame
  • Wealth
  • Power
  • Beauty
  • Life
  • Pleasure
  • etc.



is good.

what is evil
What is evil?

Stoicism’s simplified list:

  • Notoriety
  • Poverty
  • Weakness
  • Ugliness
  • Death
  • Pain
  • etc.



is evil.

what is indifferent everything else
What is indifferent?Everything else

Anything else, whether preferred or rejected,

appropriate or inappropriate,

cannot affect true eudaimonia, true happiness.

Fame or Notoriety

Wealth or Poverty

Power or Weakness

Beauty or Ugliness

Life or Death

Pleasure or Pain

ἀνέχου καὶ ἀπέχου

“There are things which are within our power, and there are things which are beyond our power. Within our power are opinion, aim, desire, aversion, and, in one word, whatever affairs are our own.

“Beyond our power are body, property, reputation, office, and, in one word,

whatever are not properly our own affairs.”



“Now, the things within our power are by nature free, unrestricted, unhindered; but those beyond our power are weak, dependent, restricted, alien.

…if you attribute freedom to things by nature dependent, you will be hindered, you will lament, you will be disturbed, you will find fault both with gods and men…”


“But if you take for your own only that which is your own, and view what belongs to others just as it really is, then no one will ever compel you, no one will restrict you, you will find fault with no one, you will accuse no one, you will do nothing against your will;

no one will hurt you, you will not have an enemy, nor will you suffer any harm.”

Epictetus, The Handbook

what is meant by passion
What is meant by “passion”?

What we call “emotions”?

“Animal instincts”?

Pleasure or pain itself?

passions greek path latin perturbationes
PassionsGreek: pathê; Latin: perturbationes.
  • Not sensations
    • Pleasure
    • Pain
  • Not pre-emotions (propatheia)
    • Eros
  • Not good feelings (eupatheia)
    • joy (chara)
    • caution (eulabeia)
    • wish (boulêsis)



Distortion of personality (Hine, 1983)

Distorts sense of reality

  • Perturbation of character (Zeno)
  • Distorts sense of reality
cognitive behavioral and rational emotive therapies
Cognitive Behavioral and Rational Emotive Therapies

Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck explicitly drew on Stoic sources in devising a therapeutic school apart from psychodynamic and behavioral traditions.

  • Cognitive therapy assumes that maladaptive behaviors and disturbed mood or emotions are the result of inappropriate or irrational thinking patterns, called automatic thoughts.
  • Therapy may consist of testing the assumptions which one makes and identifying how certain of one's usually unquestioned thoughts are distorted, unrealistic and unhelpful. Once those thoughts have been challenged, one's feelings about the subject matter of those thoughts are more easily subject to change.
common cognitive biases
Common Cognitive Biases
  • Overgeneralization
    • Mental Filter
    • Magnification and Minimization
    • All-or-Nothing Thinking
    • Disqualifying the Positive
  • Jumping to Conclusions
    • Labeling
    • Mind Reading
    • Fortune Telling
  • Emotional Reasoning
    • Shoulding Yourself, Shoulding Others
    • Personalization and Blame
cognitive restructuring
Cognitive Restructuring

Four steps:

  • Identification of problematic cognitions known as "automatic thoughts" (ATs) which are dysfunctional or negative views of the self, world, or future
  • Identification of the cognitive distortions in the ATs
  • Rational disputation of ATs with the Socratic method.
  • Development of a rational rebuttal to the ATs

Six types of automatic thoughts:

  • Self-evaluated thoughts
  • Thoughts about the evaluations of others
  • Evaluative thoughts about the other person with whom they are interacting
  • Thoughts about coping strategies and behavioral plans
  • Thoughts of avoidance
  • Any other thoughts that were not categorized
live like a stoic week
Live Like a Stoic Week

  • Download Handbook
  • Fill out surveys:
    • “Satisfaction with Life”
    • “Flourishing”
    • “Positive and Negative Emotions”
    • Stoic Attitudes and Behaviors
stoic week
Stoic Week
  • Morning Meditation
  • Stoic Mindfulness throughout day
  • Evening Meditation
  • Blog about experiences
end of week
End of week
  • Fill out surveys again:
    • “Satisfaction with Life”
    • “Flourishing”
    • “Positive and Negative Emotions”
    • “Stoic Attitudes and Behaviors”
  • Meet to discuss experience with others
  • Philosophy for Life

  • Stoicism Today

  • Philosophy of CBT