‘All you need is love:’ Stoic Week focuses on challenges of contemporary life


Zeno of Cyprus

Zeno was a Hellenistic thinker from Citium, Cyprus and was the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy, which he taught in Athens from about 300 B.C.

Oct 11, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Love has infused passion into life, inspired artists and broken hearts for millennia. Slippery Rock University's philosophy department will explore the topic through a philosophic lens during its Oct. 17-21 "Stoic Week" program.

The program, now in its second year at the University, is being held in conjunction with the International Stoic Week, which is celebrating its fifth year.

Activities will include a keynote address by Andrew Winters, instructor of philosophy, and sunrise classes at the Old Stone House.

Winters said the program would focus on three pillars of love - romantic, family and brotherly - as a means for encouraging interest in stoic ideas amid the challenges of contemporary life. Winters will offer "Living Like a Stoic in a Modern World" at 7 p.m., Oct. 20, at the Old Stone House.

"We'll be thinking about how different kinds of love create their own obstacles," Winters said.

Stoic philosophy, developed by the ancient Greeks, ponders questions about life and how people should treat others, while ridding oneself of emotions in order to prevent suffering.

Winters said he would expound the view that irrational, negative thoughts create much of life's suffering; and that a happier life can be had by all if we learn to lean toward the positive from the start.

"We need to recognize that many things that we think of as negative are more about our interpretations of things," Winters said.

Winters and SRU students will meet from 6:30-7:30 a.m., Monday-Friday at the Old Stone House to speak about the differences between the Greek and modern conventions of love. The ancient Greeks used a variety of words in relation to love, including: agape (to denote feelings for one's children and the feelings for a spouse); philia (denoting loyalty to friends - as in a "brotherly love" - family and community, and requires virtue, equality, and familiarity); storge (affection of parents and children); and eros (intimate love).

"Keeping with cosmopolitanism, stoics are concerned with how we can live with and express compassion for others," Winters said. "For the stoic, 'to be' just involves being kind and treating others fairly. In being just, Stoics also strive to recognize that we cannot control others. Love, then, is not dependent upon reciprocation.

"Kindness and being affectionate are seen as virtuous activities done for their own sake and not done to get something from someone."

As a precursor to the program, Winters will host an informational meeting at 12:30 p.m., Oct. 13, in Room 118, Spotts World Culture Building.

The Old Stone House, which is owned and operated by SRU, is located at the intersection of routes 8, 258 and 173, just south of Slippery Rock.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 | gordon.ovenshine@sru.edu