Athens Philosophy Café in English
Our Philosophy Café is a monthly meeting to discuss some of the most challenging questions of philosophy at Lexi-Logos, a charming Language & Culture Center in Plaka, downtown Athens.
Wednesday Feb. 19, 2014 (8-9 pm):
What is a good life? Stoics on happiness and virtue
In our next meeting we will once more discuss what a good life is. This time we will consider the philosophy advanced by the Stoics. Although Stoicism is thought to be the opposite of Epicureanism, we will see that the philosophers gathered in the Stoa and those gathered in the Garden had many things in common. One of those aspects in common was the relevance they assigned to philosophy in the pursuit of a happy life. Both groups of philosophers assumed that we need an adequate and rational conception of the universe and of our psychology to free ourselves from emotions that make us unhappy. Another thing that both philosophical schools had in common was the role they gave to prudence and in general to virtue in the way to a happy existence.
One central idea, however, separated Epicureans from Stoics. While the former thought that pleasure was essential to lead a happy life, the latter insisted that what made a life happy was only the exercise of virtue. In this regard, the Stoics agreed with Aristotle: happiness is the result of the lifelong practice of our virtues or excellences.
When asked about the purpose of human life, the Stoics answered that it was ‘to live in agreement with nature.’ At first sight, this statement may sound strange to us. To be sure, it does not mean to abandon civilization and to go back to nature. According to Aristotle, the aim of life was the actualization of our intrinsic potentials and faculties. For the Stoics, instead, life’s purpose was to develop our moral and cognitive capacities so that we can become an integral part of the whole system of physis (nature). The harmony of the individual with the universe was considered to be our main aim and the true source of fulfillment.
But, how can we know when we are acting in agreement with nature and when not? And do pleasure and satisfaction play no role at all in a happy life? Moreover, is it desirable to get rid of all of our passions and emotions? Is it even possible to lead a life according to the teaching of Stoicism in our present days? Is there an afterlife for those who have been virtuous and wise in this life? These are some of the questions we will discuss on Wednesday, February 19, 2014, at Lexi-Logos.
I look forward to welcoming you there!
Marcos BreuerMarcos Breuer is a Doctor of Philosophy. He studied Philosophy at the University of Cordoba, Argentina, and obtained his master's degree with a work on Norbert Elias’ philosophy of culture. He did his PhD at the University of Dusseldorf, Germany; in his dissertation he discussed the sociological assumptions underlying the current debate between utilitarianism and contractualism. After a three-year stay in Rome, he moved to Athens in 2009 where he works as a freelance author. He has published two books and many articles in different languages on ethics, philosophy, and literary criticism. He is currently working on a book about the ethical debate on euthanasia. Marcos Breuer regularly organizes private workshops on philosophy and Spanish language & culture, and works as a consultant in the field of cultural event management.