Overview of Week Two

This is the overall plan for Week Two…

  1. Lesson. You’re going to learn about a fundamental distinction between two different types of value, “good” things and “preferred” things.
  2. Daily exercise. This meditation is designed to help you find time to contemplate and connect with the concept of virtue, throughout the day.
  3. Audio recording. This short (4 min.) recording will help you prepare for the day ahead, by planning your goals and actions, in accord with your core values, while employing the Stoic acceptance of potential setbacks.
  4. Self-monitoring. You’re going to try to monitor how well you manage to live in accord with your values, your conception of virtue, throughout the day, and how you spend your time.
  5. Discussion questions. “What constitutes true human ‘virtue’ or makes a person genuinely admirable? What qualities might define someone’s character as truly good or bad?”

This week builds on Week One, and you should continue some of your Week One practices if you’re able to do so, particularly trying to live more centred in the “here and now”. You’ll find these things complementary because, in a sense, virtue resides in the present moment. You can only bring your character and actions into line with your core values if you remain mindful of them, from moment to moment. You may also find it helpful to continue listening to the Stoic Attitudes recording each day, if you have time to do so.

The common thread running through all four weeks is an emphasis on the distinction between things “up to us”, or under our direct control, and things not. The Stoics said that, in a nutshell, only our own actions are truly “up to us” and everything else is to some extent in the hands of fate. When we act well or badly, that’s “virtue” or “vice”. Everything else is ultimately “indifferent” with regard to our flourishing, they argued, although some external things or outcomes are certainly “preferred” over others, as we’ll see. These ideas can be a bit tricky at first but don’t worry as we’ll be exploring them together in the discussion forums. You don’t need to understand much about Stoic Ethics to benefit from the exercises that follow, although it helps if we can provide some philosophical rationale for them.

If there’s anything you don’t understand or get stuck with, let us know immediately, by posting on the Comments section or contacting the course facilitator, and we’ll do our very best to help you.

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