I recently did an online interview about my book collecting, which is the third one I've done this year. Here are links to all three:
In December I shall be going to Australia to speak at the ASCP conference in Melbourne. My talk will be entitled: 'What is Philosophy as a Way of Life?'. Here's a brief outline:
What is philosophy as a way of life? Is it a distinctive approach to philosophy? Is it closely aligned with continental philosophy? Does it offer a third way, distinct from both analytic and continental philosophy? Is all philosophy potentially life-changing? Do we lose something important if we conceive philosophy as a practical therapeutic exercise? I shall attempt to address all these questions, drawing on Lucretius for my final response.
Then, in March 2017, I shall be going to speak at a conference in Budapest on The Stoic Tradition. There is a call for papers here.
Stoic Week is happening once again. I'm not so involved this time around but I did do a short interview to coincide with the event which you can find at: 'Interview: John Sellars'.
There was also a public event in New York this weekend, following on from the three previous events in London. I was unable to attend but did write a preliminary draft of what would have been my talk: 'Hard Truths and Happiness'.
My main ambition for 2015-16 was to complete and submit my book manuscript on Hellenistic philosophy (see previous update). I’m pleased to report that I more or less finished a complete draft in July. I have now read through this and identified a list of final revisions. I hope to complete these in September and submit the draft to the publisher (update: now submitted).
For the coming year 2016-17 I have another book project I hope to complete, on which more in due course.
I have recently checked proofs for two book chapters due out shortly.
The first likely to appear is a chapter in German on Stoic spiritual exercises to be published in Philosophie als Lebenskunst: Antike Vorbilder, moderne Perspektiven by Suhrkamp probably in December 2016. The volume is based on a very enjoyable conference that took place in Erlangen two years ago.
The second is a short piece on Stoic attitudes towards evils, to be published in The History of Evil in Antiquity by Routledge. This was scheduled for publication in 2016 but I think will now appear in early 2017.
The annotated bibliography I prepared for Oxford Bibliographies Online is now available here (requires subscription).
This week two new publications came out, both short, but at opposite extremes in terms of content and prospective readership.
The first is my short note on the Bodleian Epictetus MS, now published in the latest issue of Classical Quarterly. A few years ago I arranged a book exhibition at the Bodleian and one of the items we put on display was the Bodleian’s 11th century manuscript of the Discourses of Epictetus. This is the archetype for all other copies, something we know because it contains an ink smudge obscuring the text where other copies have missing text. With the help of a small grant from the Ancient World Research Cluster at Wolfson College I had some large digital reproductions made of the page with the ink smudge and very kindly Nigel Wilson agreed to look at them to see if he might be able to decipher any of the obscured text. The short note reports his findings, which confirm and deny some of the conjectures of previous editors.
The second is a contribution – in fact four contributions – to Stoicism Today: Selected Writings II, edited by Patrick Ussher. Two of these pieces were written at the invitation of Patrick for the Stoicism Today blog, one is the text of a talk I gave at a Stoicism Today event in London, and the last is simply some notes from a workshop I led at a subsequent Stoicism Today event. None were written with print publication in mind but it is nice to have them recorded here.
I have been working in fits and bursts on a book on Hellenistic philosophy over the past couple of years, repeatedly interrupted by work tasks or other research commitments (see previous post here). I am now focusing all my attention on it until it is finished. I have just passed the 50,000 words mark and am aiming for something in the region of 80,000-90,000 words, plus introduction, bibliography, and so on. I am hoping to get the remaining 30,000 words or so written over the next couple of months and to have the book (or at least a complete first draft) finished by the summer. Writing 1,000 words a day, giving 5,000 words a week, would do it in 6 weeks, barring other distractions, and that's a fairly modest schedule.
I have found myself reading a lot of Cicero. Not only is he sometimes the most important source on a particular topic, but where there are other sources he is usually the earliest and the most enjoyable to read. Compared to, say, the doxographical summaries of Diogenes Laertius or Stobaeus, Cicero’s works are well-crafted dialogues written by someone who was philosophically literate and in personal contact with key members of all the philosophical schools of his day. This is especially the case for Stoicism and the sceptical Academy. He is also an important figure in his own right. For Epicureanism we have Lucretius of course, as well as Epicurus’s letters. Together, Cicero and Lucretius have become my regular points of reference.
The table of contents looks like this:
1. What, When, Where, and Who
4. The Self
5. The Good
6. Free Will
9. What was Hellenistic Philosophy?
I have also written and may include a short epilogue entitled ‘Looking East’ in which I comment briefly on connections with Indian philosophy of the period.