Philosophy Stoic

Philosophy Stoic

use this website ( to understand the concept of Stoic journaling. there is a helpful description of the history and process of the craft in the website


This week we begin journaling on Stoic themes. Journaling was a key practice for many Stoics, Marcus Aurelius being perhaps the best example. It involves reflecting on a passage focused on an aspect of virtue and where possible putting some of the lessons into practice in one’s own life. Our journal entries are not meant to be exams or anything of the sort. Instead, they are meant to deepen our awareness of Marcus Aurelius’ writings and hopefully our own attempt to become better human beings in the Stoic fashion. Keep in mind that the writing can be free and loose and that there really are very few rules outside of making sure your writing is intelligible and focused on the task at hand and the requirements below. Feel free to think and worry less about impressing anyone (myself included) and really try to reflect on the themes you are writing about. Think of yourself as doing the same sort of thing that Marcus Aurelius was doing.


You should have at least five dated entries that are a minimum of 100 words each. The format is up to you as long as each entry is clearly dated. You can write more, if you like. While I really can’t stop you from throwing together your entries for the week at the last minute, the actual assignment asks you to do as the Stoics did: Make an an entry each night before going to bed or first thing each morning. An entry in the morning will give focus for the day to come. One at night will help you reflect on your day that has passed.

The entries should be connected to the passage given for reflection each week and also to your own life in some way. You can focus on any part of the passage, or what you take to be its meaning as a whole. You can focus on one part one day and another the next. It is up to you. Whatever makes you think is what you should focus on. These entries can be as personal as you like. (All entries will be confidential and I will not share them with your classmates).

*Make sure to preview the rubric associated with the assignment!

This week’s theme and passage:

This week reflect on the Stoic insight that having things and being a good person do not necessarily go hand in hand. Feel free to write about examples of what you take to be a good person and then reflect on whether or not you are assuming that someone with external fortune is also virtuous. Or, on a related note, do your examples tend to exclude those without reputation, fame, fortune, love, etc? Explain and reflect on the passage below from Meditations while journaling about this theme this week:

“The age of Vespasian, for example. People doing the exact same things: marrying, raising children, getting sick, dying, waging war, throwing parties, doing business, farming, flattering, boasting, distrusting, plotting, hoping others will die, complaining about their own lives, falling in love, putting away money, seeking high office and power.

And that life they led is nowhere to be found.

Or the age of Trajan. The exact same things. And that life too–gone.

Survey the records of other eras. And see how many others gave their all soon died and decomposed into the elements that formed them.

But most of all, run through the list of those you knew yourself. Those who worked in vain, who failed to do what they should have–what they should have remained fixed on and found satisfaction in.

A key point to bear in mind: The value of Attentiveness varies in proportion to its object. You’re better off not giving the small things more time than they deserve (45).”

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