The school of philosophy known as Stoicism was founded by Zeno of Citium sometime around 300 BCE in Athens, Greece. Under Zeno, and his successors Cleanthes and Chrysippus, Stoicism became one of the leading philosophies of the Hellenistic period in Greece. Upon migrating to Rome, it became one of the dominant schools of thought in the Roman Empire, with perhaps the most famous ancient Stoic – the emperor Marcus Aurelius.
While the philosophy of the Stoa had its sway in the ancient world – Marcus is the last known self-identified Stoic of antiquity – there has been a significant revival of Stoicism as a philosophy of life in the 21st Century.
In this workshop, we explored several things:
- The philosophical and historical roots of Stoic philosophy (especially Socrates and Cynicism).
- Some of the central theses of Stoic philosophy
- The notion of philosophy as a way of life, with Stoicism as our exemplar
- The modern revival of Stoicism
Along the way, we looked at a few bits of text, but mostly we had a conversation about Stoicism, how it manifests as a philosophy of life, and how it affects our own lives.
(Workshop Overview & Session Recording)
Modern Stoicism — modernstoicism.com (Tons of resources, including the Stoicism today blog, links to Stoic Week, research, and biographies of some of the major players)
Stoa Nova — meetup.com/Stoa-Nova/ (Massimo Pigliucci’s project, of which Rob is part.)
Donald Robertson: How to Think Like a Roman Emperor — donaldrobertson.name/ (including SMRT)
Admiral James Stockdale — wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Stockdale (The first thing most people look at here is https://media.hoover.org/sites/default/files/documents/StockdaleCourage.pdf )
- Rob Colter’s Website — robcolter.com
- Wyoming Stoic Camp (Video) — youtube.com/watch?v=yh7X7UHfeAE
About Our Workshop Leader
Rob Colter is an Associate Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Wyoming. He received is PhD from Northwestern University in 2001 and his research focuses on Ancient Philosophy and Philosophical Pedagogy.
In addition to teaching at UW, Rob is the founder and director of Wyoming Stoic Camp (an annual gathering offered through UW to students and the public), teaches philosophy courses in Wyoming prisons via Wyoming Pathways from Prison, and co-hosts Stoa Nova Conversations (alongside Massimo Pigliucci) – a podcast discussion that explores Stoicism as a practical way of life.
In his spare time, Rob likes to spend time with his family, cook, read, and fly fish in the wilderness of Wyoming.
Thank you to Humanities Montana and P.L.A.T.O. (Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization) for helping support our philosophy in the community programs and making events like this possible! This workshop was part of our “Thinking as a Community” project.