CNE/PHL 410: Stoicism Dr Stephens Fall 2006
Wed. 3:30–6 p.m.
office hours: Wed. 10 a.m.–12 noon and 1:30 – 2:30 p.m., Thurs. 10 a.m.–12 noon, and by appt.
office: HC 116 phone (with voicemail): 280-2632 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
|The ancient Stoics defined the goal of life as living according to nature. They believed that, for human beings, this meant living according to reason, and that the perfection of reason was virtue. They argued that only the true Stoic, the Sage, is truly free since only the Sage is consistently virtuous, and so enduringly happy, even when penniless, without friends or family, physically ill, or tortured on the rack. In Tom Wolfe’s novel A Man in Full Epictetus’ Stoicism provides the deliverance of the two principal protagonists by transforming their conception of manliness (see my article "Real Men Are Stoics: An interpretation of Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full"). In northwest Greece in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries CE Epictetus, in his school, taught Stoicism as the way to live. A record of his teachings written by one of his students is an excellent text for the study of ancient Stoicism. Epictetus’ lectures or ‘discourses’ inspired Marcus Aurelius Antoninus to rule Rome as he believed a Stoic should. We will also study Marcus’ personal journal known as the Meditations. Marcus is a key figure in Ridley Scott’s film Gladiator. We will closely study the dramatic Stoic motifs in this film (see "The Rebirth of Stoicism?" in Creighton University Magazine and listen to 3:44 to 8:00 of the Real Audio file interview of Philosophy Talk July 25, 2006). By understanding its early development and its central doctrines, we can examine and evaluate the impact of Stoicism on contemporary popular culture and contemporary practitioners.|
The ancient Agora (looking
southwest). Stoicism was first expounded by Zeno of Citium
around 300 BCE in the stoa poikile (painted porch) on the north side of the Agora.
Required Work and Grade Percentages*
|A 1600–1850 word paper on A Man in Full||due Sept. 25||20%|
|averaged with 1st draft|
|A 1700–1950 word paper on Epictetus’ Discourses||due Oct. 27||25%|
|optional rewrite of Epict. paper due Nov. 16†||averaged with 1st draft|
|Pop quizzes and homework on assigned material||A missed pop quiz cannot be made up||10%|
|A 1450–1600 word paper on Marcus and Gladiator||due Nov. 17||15%|
|Final Essay Exam on Stoicism then and stoicism now||Dec. 12||10%|
|ACTIVE class participation||every class||20%|
† Students who want to rewrite their Epictetus papers must consult with Dr Stephens before Nov. 16 to discuss the strategy for revising their papers. Epictetus rewrites will NOT be accepted otherwise.
Tom Wolfe, A Man in Full (New York: Bantam, 1999) ISBN 0-553-58093-0.
Epictetus, The Discourses, trans. revised by R. Hard; edited by C. Gill (J.M. Dent, 1995) ISBN 0-460-87312-1.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, trans. and intro. by Gregory Hays (New York: The Modern Library, 2003) ISBN 0-8129-6825-5
Heather L. Reid, "Was the Roman Gladiator an Athlete?" Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 33 (2006): 37–49.
Art Spisak, Review of Martin M. Winkler, Gladiator: Film and History, New England Classical Journal, 32 (2) (May 2005): 197–200.
W. O. Stephens, How to Write Philosophy Papers: A Manual for Beginning Philosophy Students (Creighton Philosophy Department, $3).
John Sellars, The Art of Living: The Stoics on the Nature and Function of Philosophy (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003) ISBN 0-7546-3667-4.
William D. Desmond, The Greek Praise of Poverty: Origins of Ancient Cynicism (University of Notre Dame, 2006) ISBN 0-268-02582-7.
Gladiator (released May 5, 2000 by DreamWorks SKG) directed by Ridley Scott – 2001 Academy Award Winner for Best Film.
Texts on Reserve at Reinert Alumni Library
William D. Desmond, The Greek Praise of Poverty: Origins of Ancient Cynicism (University of Notre Dame, 2006) on order for RAL.
Websites on Stoicism
Websites on the film Gladiator
Videos on Stoicism
Study Materials for A Man in Full
Attendance, Participation, and Paper Submission Policies
Attendance at every class is expected. Coming to every class on time is really the easiest way to get an education at Creighton. Being prepared for every class is also expected. Since this class meets once a week, missing one class means missing a whole week's worth of learning. Therefore, only two absences are permitted for this course. Three (3) or more absences count as excessive and will result in an AF. (If illness or personal issues beyond your control are the cause of three or more absences, you may petition to withdraw from the course with a W.) Each absence lowers the class participation grade. Class participation includes comments and questions in class and talking with (or emailing) me about Stoicism outside of class. Both quantity and quality of remarks count. Always bring the book were discussing to class so we can examine passages that we discuss.
Requests for extensions should be made no fewer than three weekdays before the indicated due date. Late papers will be penalized half a letter grade (5 points) per each 24 hour period late. I STRONGLY urge you to consult with me on your paper topics before you begin writing. If you choose not to consult with me, the due dates still hold. Follow the guidelines in my How to Write Philosophy Papers manual. Get additional help at the Writing Center (Hitchcock Comm. Arts 306, phone 280-4707).
If you have any problem that hinders you from attending class, doing the assigned reading, or writing papers, please come see me or call me or send me email or leave me a note in my mailbox or under my office door. Whatever happens, it is your responsibility to keep in contact with me. If you are ill or a situation arises that prevents you from attending a class, please email me or phone me prior to class to explain why you will be absent. To prevent disruption to our discussion, please keep cell phones and pagers off during class.
Academic Honesty Statement
If you plagiarize any part of a paper or written assignment, then you will receive an F for that assignment. Students are required to produce their own original work in their papers and assignments, including all ideas, arguments, and sentences. Students may NOT work with others, and may NOT borrow from others, when writing the sentences of their assignments. However, students are encouraged to discuss ideas pertaining to their papers with other students in the course and with other people not taking the course. Citations on the paper should follow the guidelines in How to Write Philosophy Papers. Cheating will be punished with at minimum an F (zero) on that assignment. In cases of cheating I judge to be flagrant, the punishment is an F for the course. See the Creighton College of Arts & Sciences Academic Honesty Procedures.
Word Counts and Grading Criteria
Print on the cover page of each of your papers the number of words that constitute the body of that paper (that is, exclude the number on the cover page and works cited page or pages). Make an effort to have your word count fall within the stipulated range. The mininum word count is a firm limit. The maximum word count is a soft limit; it is my suggestion. If you strongly believe you need more space, you may exceed that suggested limit within reason.
Each paper will be a thesis defense paper. In a thesis defense paper the student takes a stand on a philosophical issue relevant to the course and pertinent to the assigned TOPIC for that paper. The student must clearly explain what her position is after explicitly stating it in the introductory paragraph. Then, in the body of the paper, the student must justify her thesis by presenting page after page of arguments to support it. Then the student must discuss the most intelligent objections to and counterarguments against her position that she can think of. Finally she must reply to these intelligent objections and defend her thesis (which may require modifying it) in response to the counterarguments.
Papers will be graded on the following criteria:
Standards of Evaluation for Letter Grades
F "Failure – no credit" (below 60% average)
D "Work of inferior quality, but passing" (60% to below 70% average)
C "Satisfactory work"
B "Noteworthy level of performance" Demonstrates all of the qualities of satisfactory work plus:
A "Outstanding achievement and an unusual degree of intellectual initiative" Demonstrates all of the qualities of noteworthy performance plus:
Aug. 23 Introduction (bring A Man in Full to class)
Aug. 30 Wolfe, A Man in Full, Prologue : Cap’m
Chapter I : Chocolate Mecca (17–35)
Chapter II : The Saddlebags (36–62)
Chapter III : Turpmtine (63–95)
Chapter IV : Beige Half Brothers (96–114)
Chapter V : The Suicidal Freezer Unit (115–141)
Chapter VI : In the Lair of the Lust (142–167)
Chapter VII : Hello Out There, 7-Eleven Land (168–190)
Chapter VIII : The Lay of the Land (191220)
Sept. 6 Wolfe, Chapter IX : The Superfluous Woman (221–248)
Chapter X : The Red Dog (249–263)
Chapter XI : This Is—Not Right! (264–292)
Chapter XII : The Breeding Barn (293–330)
Chapter XIII : The Arrest (331–344)
Chapter XIV : God’s Cosmic Joke (345–362)
Chapter XV : The Rubber Room (363–392)
Chapter XVI : Gotcha Back (393–419)
Sept. 13 Wolfe, Chapter XVII : Epictetus Comes to Da House
(420–444), and Epictetus, Discourses
Bk 1, Ch. 1, Ch. 24; Bk 1, Ch. 2
Wolfe, Chapter XVIII : The Aha! Phenomenon (445–467)
Wolfe, Chapter XIX : The Trial (468–493) and Epict., Disc. Bk 1, Ch. 6; Bk 3, Ch. 24 and Ch. 26; Bk 2, Ch. 16
Chapter XX : Mai’s Army (494–522)
Chapter XXI : The Real Buckhead (523–545)
Chapter XXII : Chambodia (546–577)
Chapter XXIII : The Deal (578–608)
Sept. 20 Wolfe, Chapter XXIV : Gridiron Heroes (609–628)
Chapter XXV : Starring Darwell Scruggs (629641)
Chapter XXVI : Holding Hands (642656)
Chapter XXVII : The Screen (657674)
Chapter XXVIII : The Spark of Zeus (675691)
Chapter XXIX : Epictetus in Buckhead (692708)
Chapter XXX : The Bull and the Lion (709731)
Chapter XXXI : Roger Black (732754)
Chapter XXXII : The Manager (755772)
Epilogue : A Man of the World (773–787) and Disc. Bk. 3, Chs. 22, 26; Bk. 2, Chs. 22, 18, 8; Bk. 1, Ch. 2
Sept. 25 Wolfe paper DUE at 9:30 a.m.
Sept. 27 Epictetus, introduction, Arrians letter to L. Gellius, Discourses Book 1 (xvii72); Sellars, Chapters 1 and 5
Oct. 4 Epictetus, Book 2 (75146); recommend Sellars, Chapter 3; Desmond, Chapter 1
Oct. 11 Epictetus, Book 3 (149223); recommend Desmond, Chapters 2 and 4
Oct. 18 Fall Recess
Oct. 25 Epictetus, Book 4 and Handbook (227–306);
recommend Sellars, Chapter 6 and Conclusion; Desmond
QUIZ on How to Write Philosophy Papers: A Manual for Beginning Philosophy Students
Oct. 27 Epictetus paper DUE at 2 p.m.
Nov. 1 Marcus Aurelius, Meditations Introduction,
Chronology, Index of Persons, Books 1–6, and relevant Notes, (vii–82; 171 ff.);
examine selected scenes from Gladiator
Nov. 8 Marcus, Books 7–9 and Notes (85–128; 176–178);
Heather Reid, "Was the Roman Gladiator an Athlete?";
Art Spisak, Review of M. Winkler, Gladiator: Film and History; examine selected scenes from Gladiator
Nov. 15 Marcus, Books 10–12 and Notes (131–170; 178–180); examine selected scenes from Gladiator
Nov. 17 Marcus and Gladiator paper DUE at 2 pm
Nov. 22 Thanksgiving Recess
Nov. 29 Lawrence Becker, Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy, and the contemporary practice of Stoicism
Dec. 6 last class; continue study of Becker
Tuesday Dec. 12, 10:00 am Final Exam on Stoicism then and stoicism now Review Guide for Final Exam
* The instructor reserves the right, at his discretion, to make minor changes to this syllabus during the course including due dates, assignments, and requirements.
last updated 31 October 2008
Copyright © 2008 William O. Stephens