School of Essential Studies

Theory & Practice Course

Now Taking Applications for the School of Essential Studies (hereinafter referred to as the SES). This is a four-month course of distance learning suitable for working adults who have come to Stoicism for the first time or who wish to deepen their knowledge of our philosophy. Applicants to the SES will be accepted regardless of their personal beliefs. Atheists, skeptics, agnostics, and members of religious faiths are all welcome.

I. Methods

Assignments Overview. Assignments are made with deadlines. Students may accelerate the pace of completion time without permission, but should not complete any lesson in less than one week. The Theory & Practice (T&P) course is not just an intellectual activity. Thought and contemplation are part of the learning process. If the student needs more time to complete any assignment, please consult the mentor as soon as it is apparent that the deadline will not be met.

Mentor's Role. The mentor's role is to help you achieve the goal of becoming a knowledgeable Stoic, both in theory and practice, by guiding, correcting, encouraging, and confirming your progress. Specific goals that you may have will also be carefully considered. Correspondence with your mentor is done by email or Skype.

II. Reading List

This is the required reading for this course:

  1. John Sellars, Stoicism (University of California Press, 2006).
  2. The Three Romans are required reading during this period.
    1. Seneca, Letters from a Stoic, may be a "selected" edition.
    2. Arrian, The Discourses of Epictetus. Read as time allows, but all of Enchiridion.
    3. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations. All of this volume should be read.

III. Assignments

All assignments will be received and returned in Open Office format. If you do not have Open Office (OO) you may download it free at: Open Office is the College standard for word processing so that we can all readily exchange files. Seminars are conducted by Skype video to maximize interactions between student and Tutor. To install Skype free go to:

  1. A Skype video conversation with your mentor will be done at the beginning and end of the course.
  2. Eight (8) weeks: Read Stoicism by John Sellars as you complete each assignment in Theory Parts I-IV. Each assignments will be supplied by your Mentor when the previous assignment has been completed. Each of the four assignments has a two-week deadline.
  3. Seven (7) weeks: Each assignment of Practice Parts I-IV will be supplied by your Mentor when the previous assignment has been completed.
  4. Required reading: Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius will be required, but no assignment or book report is required. It is important for you to know the thoughts of these three Roman Stoics.

IV. Honor System

Your Mentor will check your responses with a Mentor's Guide. This "answer sheet" has been found on the Internet and used by a few students to do their work. Your first lesson as a Stoic is honesty, and the College operates on the honor system because we know that any dishonesty only hurts the student, not the school.

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