Saturday, October 05, 2019

Stoicon 2019 in Athens Report

Stoicon Athens at last! How could I make the most of it? Well obviously I would have to visit a Greek taverna and some point, and have a Greek meal with Stoic friends too - but how to make the most of all the enlightenment?

I challenged myself to take a useful photo and summarise a key take-home message of each talk.

Then, so I thought, I could share it with Stoic friends who couldn't be there. This is the result. I hope it's useful!

A small confession -  I started writing  it from a Greek Taverna in the lunch break,  with a glass of cool white wine on hand to help ...

Introduction: Welcome to the Birthplace of Stoicism
Donald Robertson, author of Stoicism and the Art of Happiness and How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, etc.

My take-home message: Stoicism boils down to some very simple and practical ideas that can make a positive difference to your life.
9.30 On Taking Responsibility: The Stoics in Exile
Jonas Salzgeber, author of The Little Book of Stoicism

My take-home Message  Even when adversities happen (like exile) we have the freedom - no, the responsibility - to decide how to respond. And we can't even be sure it is an adversity ...
10.45 Military Stoicism
Thomas Jarrett, LTC-R, retired combat stress control officer, creator of Stoic & Warrior Resilience Training programs in the Iraq War

My take-home message: Important themes of Stoicism (virtue, resilience, what you can and cannot control) can be very useful when preparing for any challeng.

11.30  For the Benefit of All: On Being a Social Stoic
John Sellars, Lecturer in Philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of London, author of Stoicism and The Art of LivingLessons in Stoicism, etc.

Take-home message: We are part of humanity just as a limb is part of our body. We should treat others as if they are part of our body, with justice and care.

12.15 The Acropolis, the Inner Citadel and the View from Above
Matt Sharpe, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Deakin University

Take-home message: The view from the moon, or space, or above, can help us to not take ourselves too seriously.

Donald Robertson's view from above the auditorium ...

Our beautiful and very Greek location, Cotsen Hall, Athens

4.45 Keynote: Epictetus on Attending to Oneself
Katerina Ierodiakonou, Professor at the University of Athens and at the University of Geneva, editor of Dialectic after Plato and Aristotle and Topics in Stoic Philosophy, etc.

Take-home message: Epictetus introduced prosoche into Stoicism (what is now often called 2Stoic mindfulness" and can also be called "attention". We don't know exactly why Epictetus he did this, but it may have been his recognising that the reason that the Stoic sage was so hard to find ("as rare as an Egyptian phoenix" was because it was just too tricky to challenge our unhelpful thinking if we didn't develop the skill of paying attention to our thinking. 

Phew! Just finished this in time  for an evening meal with Stoic friends .... and I did get to see the afternoon sessions in between.

More resources will be made available at

and it's Stoicon-X tomorrow and then London Stoicon-X next Saturday

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