Online Course: Basics of Stoic Philosophy and Practice

here’s a new audio course introducing you to an ancient philosophy applicable to modern life!

A little under a month ago, my new audio course — Basics of Stoic Philosophy and Practice — went public on the Listenable platform. It consists of twelve 4–10 minute lessons that anyone using the platform can listen to and learn from. I’m very pleased with how the course came out, and with the positive responses from those who have taken the course. In building it out in this online format, to teach those interested in Stoicism, I also learned quite a few things in the process.

First, though, I’ll just note that the course was quite a long time coming. Listenable had first contacted me, proposing that I create a course for them, back in Spring. I get pitches regularly from new platforms eager to expand their content, so I checked them out, and liked what I saw, and then started thinking about what sort of audio course would be best for initially trying out the platform. I decided upon one that would introduce listeners to some of the basic ideas, key thinkers, history, and useful practices of Stoic philosophy.

If you’d like to go right to the course page, on the Listenable platform, here it is.

If you’d like to use my affiliate link to sign up for Listenable — which gives you a discount not just on my course but on the hundreds of others they have — here it is.

The Lessons Of The Course

It is always tough to develop an introductory course. In fact, they can be much more difficult to design than courses intended to advance or deepen the learning of students who already have some background in the topics. There’s also the temptation to pack too much into a course, overwhelming the learners with what one would hope to be a wealth of useful content. So one has to employ some judgement, even ruthlessness, in trimming the topics covered down to what will prove most useful for the learners.

Here’s what I settled on. These are the topics for each lesson, along with the running times.

  • Introduction to the Class 04:02
  • stoicism vs. Stoicism 08:52
  • Who Are the Stoics? 09:07
  • The Stoic Conception of Happiness 08:30
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent 08:14
  • The Dichotomy of Control 08:59
  • The Four Virtues 08:09
  • Stoicism and the Emotions 08:59
  • Widening Our Perspectives 08:30
  • Examining Expectations and Appearances 08:39
  • Reworking Habits Towards Freedom 08:25
  • Going Further: Stoic Texts to Study 08:51

The fourth lesson on to the eleventh all involve or include some practical exercises one can apply right away to supplement the information about Stoicism presented.

An Excerpt From Lesson 2 Of The Course

The second lesson introduces listeners to the often-overlooked difference between stoicism and Stoicism — an important distinction to get right! To give you some sense of the style and approach of the course, I’m providing an excerpted portion from lesson 2.

[T]here are two related but very different senses to the term Stoicism, and it is absolutely critical to understand and respect the difference between them. If you don’t, if you mix them up with each other, you’re setting yourself up for all sorts of misunderstandings and problems. There’s Stoicism in the sense that we’ve just described at the start of this lesson. That’s something like a character trait or a cultural ideal. And then there’s Stoicism that is the actual philosophy, thought out, taught, and practiced back in ancient times, and continued on to the present day.

Those of us who know the difference, and who study, teach, and apply genuine Stoic philosophy like to call these two different senses of Stoicism upper-case-S Stoicism and lower-case-s stoicism. Upper-case-S Stoicism is the actual philosophy and the practices that derive from it. Lower case-s stoicism is the mentality associated with the “stiff upper lip” or “embracing the suck”, or the personality trait involving unemotionality and toughness.

These two meanings of Stoicism are connected together historically. You might say that lower-case-s stoicism is what people who either didn’t understand the actual philosophy very well, or wanted just certain aspects of the philosophy, reduced Stoicism to. And then that meaning caught on, and within popular culture, supplanted the original meaning of the term. But this lower-case-s stoicism is really just a shadow cast by the light of the real upper-case S Stoicism.

So what is this? What is the Stoicism you are getting introduced to in this course? Here is where the real learning begins!

Stoicism is a system and tradition, or if you like movement and community, of philosophy. That means that it has a rich and complex set of concepts, arguments, distinctions, assumptions, and observations about the world, the human being, society, and a number of other connected matters. Philosophy is a field that has been around for a very long time, and you’re not going to find some definition agreed upon by all of its practitioners throughout that history. But you can say that at its core is an effort to take and use something distinctive to human beings, our capacity for rationality, to understand matters more fully and to live better.

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Gregory Sadler

Gregory Sadler

president ReasonIO | editor Stoicism Today | speaker philosophical counselor & consultant | YouTube philosophy guy | co-host Wisdom for Life | teaches at MIAD

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