This isn’t a course on the history or theory of Stoic philosophy or a general introduction to the subject. It assumes no prior knowledge but it focuses on a specific handful of key Stoic practices. You don’t need to know anything else about Stoicism to take part. However, it will probably help if you do want to find out more. Although it’s not essential, therefore, doing some additional reading about Stoicism may help you to better understand their philosophy and practices and to get more benefit out of this training.
For example, one of the most common misconceptions about Stoicism is that it requires us to be completely unemotional. That’s not really what the Stoics meant, though. Instead, they taught that we should aim to overcome irrational, unhealthy, or excessive fears and desires, etc. In fact, Marcus Aurelius went so far as to describe the goal of Stoicism as being “free from irrational passions and yet full of love” or natural (philanthropic) affection for the rest of mankind.
[q_question text=”There are many good books available. We’d encourage you to begin with a modern introduction and then read some of the classic texts themselves.”]
- The Stoic Week 2015 Handbook provides a more details introduction to Stoic practice.
- Books like William Irvine’s A Guide to the Good Life or my own Teach Yourself: Stoicism and the Art of Happiness are intended to be easy to read introductions to Stoic theory and practice for non-academics.
- The most popular Stoic text that survives from ancient times is the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, so you may want to read that before looking at other ancient sources.
- The Handbook of Epictetus is also a good starting point, as it provides a concise summary of the key sayings of a famous Stoic teacher.
If you’re able to do so, we’d like you to post a quick review of your favourite book on Stoicism to the comments section below, as soon as you get a chance. It doesn’t need to be longer than a couple of paragraphs.
The Stoic Handbook
Sign up today for our free email course on the Stoic Handbook. You'll receive weekly emails with my commentary on passages from Epictetus.