Philosophy is, by its field of inquiry, a discipline in which we are encouraged to alter the optics through which we customarily perceive ourselves and our environment. It is therefore well suited to causing ‘questioning events’ - periods of reflection in which your habits of thought become clear, and therefore open to revision. The methods of the school of Stoicism are different, however, in that this alteration is the explicit end goal of its practice, rather than a welcome effect.
This module approaches the classical works of the Stoics through modern interpreters. Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Cicero and Epictetus introduce us to the Stoic method, its practices and its therapeutic focus upon the concept of emotion. Martha Nussbaum, Pierre Hadot, Lawrence Becker and Maragret Graver help to illuminate how the Stoics presented a model of philosophy utterly unique in the Western tradition - one that is still strikingly relevant to the modern experience of life.
But above all, this module centres on a close-reading of Marcus Aurelius classic The Meditations. Each week students are asked to choose passages to reflect upon, journal in response to, and critically evaluate. Over twelve weeks our students gain new confidence in expressing themselves, new clarity and coherence in their reading and writing, learn how to effectively use and produce academic references, and work towards their final essay and presentation.