CNE/PHL 410: Stoicism Prof. Stephens Fall 2009
Mon. Wed. 3:30 – 4:45 p.m. (Dowling
Hall) Humanities Center 212
office hours: M W 1:25–2:45 pm, F 1:25–2:30 pm, and by appointment
office: HC 116 phone (with voicemail): 280-2632 email: stphns AT creighton DOT edu
|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 from 3 mins. 44 secs. to 8 mins. 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 Stoa Poikile (‘painted
porch’) (460 BCE)
of Athens was decorated with paintings
of the best Greek painters.
Here, around 300 BCE, the philosopher Zeno of Citium first expounded the ideas that originated the philosophical school known as the Stoa.
Required Work and Grade Percentages*
|A 1600 to approximately 1850 word paper on A Man in Full||due Oct. 15 at 5:00 pm||20%|
|A 1850 to approximately 2100 word paper on Epictetus’ Discourses||due Nov. 2 (at beginning of class)||25%|
|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 (2000)||due Nov. 30 (at the beginning of class)||15%|
|Final Exam on Stoicism||Dec. 15, 10:00 to 11:40 am||10%|
|ACTIVE class participation||every class||20%|
Tom Wolfe, A Man in Full (Bantam, 1999) ISBN 0-553-58093-0.
Epictetus, Discourses and Selected Writings, translated and edited by Robert Dobbin (Penguin Books, 2008) ISBN 978-0-140-44946-4.
Hard, Robin (trans.). Marcus Aurelius. Meditations with selected correspondence. Oxford world's classics. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. xxxii, 176 p. $9.95 (pb). ISBN 9780199573202.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, a new translation, with an introduction, by Gregory Hays (Random House, 2003) ISBN 0-8129-6825-5
W. O. Stephens, “The Rebirth of Stoicism?” Creighton Magazine, Winter 2000: 34–39.
John Sellars, “Stoics on the Big Screen: Marcus and Maximus” (April 2003)
Lawrence C. Becker, A New Stoicism (Princeton, 1999), selections [best viewed on BlueLine, under “Lessons”]
W. O. Stephens, How to Write Philosophy Papers: A Manual for Beginning Philosophy Students (Creighton Philosophy Department, $4).
Gladiator (released May 5, 2000 by DreamWorks SKG) directed by Ridley Scott (155 mins.) – 2001 Academy Award Winner for Best Film. ABSTRACT: A powerful Roman general condemned to death after a power struggle is made a slave and put into the gladiatorial games to fight until he loses and dies. But he still is seeking revenge on the emperor who enslaved him and killed his family.
Materials on Reserve at Reinert Alumni Library
|Websites on Stoicism||
Zeno of Citium (334–262 BCE)
Websites pertaining to the film Gladiator (2000)
Study Materials for A Man in Full
Attendance and Participation
Attendance at every class is expected. Coming to every class on time is really the easiest way to get an education at Creighton. Two tardies count as one absence. Being prepared for every class is also expected. Five (5) 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 we’re discussing to class so we can examine passages that we discuss.
In the event of disruption of normal classroom activities due to an H1N1 flu outbreak, the format for this course may be modified to enable completion of the course. In that event, you will be provided an addendum to this syllabus that will supersede this version. Moreover, in the event of an H1N1 flu outbreak, you will be granted up to 3 days of missed class attendance without a doctor’s note so long as you inform Prof. Stephens immediately when you become ill. If you miss more than 3 class days, you must provide a doctor’s excuse.
Paper Submission Policies
Papers should be submitted on time. By a “paper” I mean thin sheets made from wood pulp, stapled together, with printing on them. I do not ordinarily accept as a submitted paper an electronic file on a storage device or an email attachment. Early submissions are much appreciated. Requests for extensions must be made at least three (3) class days (i.e. weekdays) prior to the due date. Papers submitted after the due date (or granted extension date) will be penalized 5 points (= half a letter grade) per weekday late (not counting holidays recognized by the University). If the paper has not been received by the instructor within a week after its due date, then the student must withdraw from or take an F for the course. Be sure to discuss your paper topic with me so I can approve your topic and approach before your begin serious writing. Follow closely the guidelines in How to Write Philosophy Papers. You can get additional help at the Writing Center in Creighton Hall. Print your NAME, the COURSE number and name, the name (properly spelled) of your PROFESSOR, the TITLE of your paper, and the WORD COUNT on the cover page. Exclude from the word count the words on the cover page and the words on the works cited page. 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.
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.
Grading Criteria for the Thesis Defense Paper
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:
For greater detail, see “How Prof. Stephens grades a thesis defense paper.”
Standards of Evaluation for Letter Grades
F “Failure – no credit” (< 60% average)
D “Work of inferior quality, but passing” (60 to < 70%)
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:
Pictures of Epictetus
Aug. 26 Introduction to the history of ancient Stoicism
Aug. 31 Epictetus, Discourses and Selected Writings, Introduction and Enchiridion (vii–xix, 221–245)
Sept. 2 Epictetus, The Discourses, Arrian’s Letter to Lucius Gellius and Book 1, Chapters 1 through 12 (3, 5–37)
Sept. 9 Epictetus, The Discourses, Book 1, Chapters 13 through 30 (37–76)
Sept. 14 Epictetus, The Discourses, Book 2, Chapters 1 through 14 (77–109)
Sept. 16 Epictetus, The Discourses, Book 2, Chapters 15 through 23 (109–145); pop quiz on Epictetus
Sept. 21 Wolfe, A Man in Full, Prologue : Cap’m Charlie (3–16)
Chapter I : Chocolate Mecca (17–35)
Chapter II : The Saddlebags (36–62)
Chapter III : Turpmtine (63–95)
Chapter IV : Beige Half Brothers (96–114); homework questions (emailed)
Sept. 23 Wolfe, Chapter V : The Suicidal Freezer Unit
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 (191–220)
Sept. 28 Wolfe, Chapter IX : The Superfluous Woman
Chapter X : The Red Dog (249–263)
Chapter XI : This Is—Not Right! (264–292)
Chapter XII : The Breeding Barn (293–330)
Sept. 30 Wolfe, 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)
Oct. 5 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., Discourses Bk 1, Ch. 6; Bk 2, Ch. 16
Wolfe, Chapter XX : Mai’s Army (494–522)
Oct. 7 Wolfe, Chapter XXI : The Real Buckhead (523–545)
Chapter XXII : Chambodia (546–577)
Chapter XXIII : The Deal (578–608)
Oct. 12 Wolfe, Chapter XXIV : Gridiron
Chapter XXV : Starring Darwell Scruggs (629–641)
Chapter XXVI : Holding Hands (642–656)
Chapter XXVII : The Screen (657–674)
Chapter XXVIII : The Spark of Zeus (675–691)
Oct. 14 Wolfe, Chapter XXIX : Epictetus
in Buckhead (692–708)
Chapter XXX : The Bull and the Lion (709–731)
Chapter XXXI : Roger Black (732–754)
Chapter XXXII : The Manager (755–772)
Epilogue : A Man of the World (773–787) and Discourses Bk. 3, Ch. 22; Bk. 2, Chs. 22, 18, 8; Bk. 1, Ch. 2
Paper on Wolfe DUE Friday, Oct. 16 at 2:30 pm
Oct. 26 Epictetus, The Discourses, Book 3 (146–173); completed A Man in Full Identifications of Person, Places, Things and Vocabulary definitions DUE
Oct. 28 Epictetus, The Discourses, Book 4 (174–206)
Nov. 2 watch first half of Gladiator (2000); Paper on Epictetus DUE
Nov. 4 watch second half of Gladiator (2000)
Nov. 9 W. O. Stephens, “The
Rebirth of Stoicism?” and
John Sellars, “Stoics
on the Big Screen: Marcus and Maximus”;
Printed responses to these discussion questions on Gladiator (2000) DUE
Nov. 11 Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Introduction, Chronology, Index of Persons, Books 1–3, and relevant Notes (vii–lvii, 5–34; 171–174)
Nov. 16 Marcus, Books 4–5 and Notes (37–65, 174–175)
Nov. 18 Marcus, Books 6–7 and Notes (69–98; 175–177)
Nov. 23 Marcus, Books 8–9 and Notes (101–128; 177–178)
Nov. 30 Marcus, Books 10–12 and Notes (131–170;
Paper on Marcus and Gladiator (2000) DUE
Dec. 2 Selections from Lawrence C. Becker, A New Stoicism
Dec. 7 Lawrence C. Becker, A New Stoicism (continued)
Dec. 9 class canceled; university closed due to inclement weather
Tuesday Dec. 15, 10:00–11:40 am Final Exam 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 3 November 2011
Copyright © 2011 William O. Stephens