Modern Stoicism and the Responsibility for the Global Polis

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This article outlines the premises and promises of a modern comeback of Stoicism, particularly the question of reinterpretation of the original doctrine, the contemporary intricacies of the principle of “following nature,” and the foundations that modern Stoicism establishes for global responsibility.

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... Though it is not a political theory, Stoicism is an ethic that encourages practitioners of the philosophy to act virtuously and become better people-within contemporary society, this must involve consideration as to how to engage in activism [22]. There has been a renewed interest in Stoicism within popular culture [23]-the Modern Stoicism movement has been conducting pilot studies since 2012 providing promising, yet not fully empirically validated, findings, regarding the association of Stoicism and Stoic training with well-being and resilience [24][25][26]. The Modern Stoicism movement has also been involved in developing Stoic Mindfulness and Resilience Training (SMRT), a comprehensive, intensive online Stoic skills training programme for the general public [27]. ...
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Background Empathic erosion and burnout represent crises within medicine. Psychological training has been used to promote empathy and personal resilience, yet some training useful within adjacent fields remain unexplored, e.g., Stoic training. Given recent research within psychology suggesting that Stoic training increases emotional wellbeing, exploring this type of training within health professions education is important. We therefore asked: What impact would a Stoicism informed online training package have on third year medical students’ resilience and empathy? Methods 24 third year medical students took part in 12 days of online training (SeRenE), based on Stoic philosophy, and co-developed with psychotherapists. A mixed-methods study was conducted to evaluate impact. Pre- and post-SeRenE students completed the Stoic Attitudes and Behaviours Scale (SABS), Brief Resilience Scale (BRS) and Jefferson Scale of Empathy (JSE). All students completed semi-structured interviews following training and 2 months post-SeRenE. Thematic analysis was employed to analyse qualitative data, whilst within subjects t-tests and correlational analyses were conducted on quantitative data. Results Quantitatively, stoic ideation, resilience and empathy increased post-training, with correlational analyses suggesting resilience and empathy increase in tandem. Qualitatively, four themes were identified: 1. Negative visualisation aids emotional and practical preparedness; 2. Stoic mindfulness encourages students to think about how they think and feel; 3. Stoic reflection develops the empathic imagination; and 4. Evaluating the accessibility of SeRenE. Conclusions Our data lend support to the ability of Stoic-based psychological training to positively influence resilience and empathy. Although, quantitatively, results were mixed, qualitative data offers rich insight. The practice of negative visualisation, promoted by SeRenE, encourages student self-efficacy and planning, domains of resilience associated with academic success. Further, this study demonstrates a connection between Stoic practice and empathy, which manifests through development of the empathic imagination and a sense of empathic bravery.
Recognizes dual Stoic positions concerning our social existence. One position emphasizes the importance of a cohesive social fabric. In the second position the Stoics order us to be indifferent to socialized phenomena that they define as external to the essential self. These positions frame my overview of a comparative study between Stoic philosophy and social and sociological theories. Social and sociological theories conceive that socialized elements of the self are pivotal rather than external to who we really are. To contextualize the timing of this book I review the resurgence of Stoic philosophy. This incorporates a discussion of my ancient and contemporary sources. I also outline how conventional readings of established texts ground this book’s approach even as I integrate new perspectives.
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