The Art of Dying: Philosophy & Death virtual conference
The Art of Dying: Philosophy and Death, our upcoming virtual symposium, promises an extraordinary journey into the depths of human existence. Here, we proudly present a stellar lineup of speakers who will guide you through a profound exploration of life’s most intricate facets, particularly the enigma of death. These leading authors and compassionate psychotherapists are poised to share their wisdom, offering insights that will empower you to embrace mortality with grace and profound understanding.
This symposium beckons those with a thirst for introspection and philosophical inquiry. Together, we will confront the universal experience of death, a concept that has both intrigued and unnerved humanity for centuries. Through the profound wisdom of philosophy, we will seek answers to life’s most profound questions, reshaping our perspectives and inviting a deeper understanding of the mysteries of existence.
Our mission is always to promote philosophy as a way of life, making it accessible to all. This is why all of our events are free of charge. However, you may also donate an amount of your choosing. Your generosity keeps us hosting events like these. Donations also go towards the development of a PAC on-site location near the original Plato’s Academy in Akadimia Platonos, Athens.
Check out our current lineup of speakers!
Tim Freke is the author of The Jesus Mysteries and Soul Story. He will be speaking on “The Evolution of Immortality”.
Dr. Rachel Menzies, author of Mortals: How the Fear of Death Shaped Human Society, will be speaking on “Accepting death: The key to psychological equanimity”.
Tim LeBon, Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and author of 365 Ways to Be More Stoic,will be speaking on “Seneca and the Shortness of Life”.
Dr. Kate Hammer, existential psychotherapist, author of Joyful Stoic Death Writing, and Kathryn Koromilas, creator of the 28 Days of Joyful Death Writing with the Stoics programme, will be presenting together: “The Forays to Face Finitude: Stoic contemplation, communitas, & creative action”.
Dr. Scott Waltman, author of Socratic Questioning for Therapists and Counselors and The Stoicism Workbook, will be speaking on “Socrates: Fearless in the Face of Death”.
Michael Fontaine, author of How to Grieve: An Ancient Guide to the Lost Art of Consolation (Cicero) will present “Cicero on Grieving the Death of a Child”.
Prof. Michael Cholbi is the Executive Director of the International Association for the Philosophy of Death and Dying and author of Grief: A Philosophical Guide. His presentation will be on “Grief in Ancient Philosophy: Stoic Self-sufficiency or Aristotelian Interdependence?”
Join us in this intellectual and emotional adventure, as we also explore the complexities of grief and loss, offering practical guidance and emotional support. Our aim is to help you find solace and resilience, ultimately inspiring a life rich in purpose and fulfillment. Instead of fearing death, we will celebrate it as an illuminating milestone on the path to a meaningful existence. You are invited to join kindred spirits on this transformative journey, forging connections that will endure long after the symposium concludes, enriching your understanding of life and providing solace in the face of life’s uncertainties.
If you know someone who could use some practical advice for coping with death, or even their own mortality, please share the link below:
As the dust settles on our post pandemic world, it finds itself grappling with widespread social unrest and pervasive economic uncertainty, in conjunction with our everyday struggles as individuals. It is here that the marriage of ancient wisdom and therapy emerges as a guiding light, offering timeless insights into the human condition. By weaving together the principles of therapy and ancient philosophy, we can embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery and emerge more resilient.
The Greek word “therapeia” (θεραπεία) is derived from the Greek verb “therapeuo” (θεραπεύω), which means “to serve” or “to attend to.” The ancient Greeks believed the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and spirit, and therapy encompassed all aspects of holistic healing. Within Greek mythology, the gods themselves were often associated with therapeutic practices. For example, Apollo, the Greek god of healing, was often invoked for the restoration of physical and mental health. So, therapeia was sometimes used to describe the activities carried out in Apollo’s temples, where individuals sought healing through prayer, offerings, and ritual practices.
Therapy and ancient philosophy share a common goal: the pursuit of inner harmony and eudaimonia, or flourishing. Ancient philosophers believed that true happiness and fulfillment came not from external circumstances but from cultivating virtues and aligning one’s actions with one’s values. In a similar vein, therapy aims to help individuals find a sense of meaning and purpose, develop self-compassion, and build resilience in the face of life’s challenges.
Stoicism offers particularly relevant insights in the context of therapy. It teaches individuals to distinguish between what is within their control and what is not, and to focus their energy on the former. The philosophy also emphasizes the importance of accepting life’s uncertainties, managing emotions, and cultivating a sense of gratitude. These Stoic principles can be integrated into therapy to help individuals navigate difficulties, develop resilience, and foster a sense of tranquility amid the storms of life.
Stoicism and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Stoicism and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) share several similarities and have a significant relationship. CBT is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the connections between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, aiming to identify and modify negative patterns of thinking and behavior. Stoicism, on the other hand, is a philosophy of life and emphasizes the importance of reason, virtue, and acceptance of the things we cannot control. The main goal of Stoic-therapy is apatheia (ἀπάθεια) which is freedom from being bound to our irrational passions such as anger, fear, or sadness.
The relationship between Stoicism and CBT lies in their shared principles and practices. They both highlight the role of our thoughts in shaping our emotions and behaviors; and recognize that it is not external events themselves that cause distress, but rather our interpretation and perception of those events. Both approaches emphasize the power of examining and challenging our thoughts and beliefs to foster healthier emotional and behavioral responses.
For example, the Stoic notion of “cognitive distancing” encourages individuals to step back from their immediate reactions and consider alternative interpretations of events, which is similar to CBT’s technique of cognitive restructuring. Stoicism also encourages individuals to focus on what is within their control, while accepting that there are things outside their control, aligning with CBT’s emphasis on identifying and changing the aspects of a situation that can be influenced.
“Sometimes Stoicism can help dramatically. In 365 Ways, we give the example of one man whose life was turned around when he heard about the dichotomy of control and the Serenity Prayer. For the previous decade his life had been ruined by focusing on past misfortunates over which he had no control. The DOC helped him realize that he had a choice – to stay in the past or move forward.
People struggling with long-term health conditions can be helped by similar ideas. They can’t control the fact that they have a particular condition but they can control how they respond to it.
Seneca’s short work On Anger contains so many valuable ideas and memorable phrases. It’s common to hear people to say that you need anger to fight injustice. ‘No!’, reply Seneca and the Stoics, you need courage and wisdom to do this, not anger.
Perhaps the biggest impact though is with people suffering from anger and frustration. Seneca’s short work On Anger contains so many valuable ideas and memorable phrases. It’s common to hear people say that you need anger to fight injustice. No!, reply Seneca and the Stoics, you need courage and wisdom to do this, not anger. The red mist obscures your ability to see things properly and fairly. Or, as Seneca puts it
The sword of justice is ill-placed in the hands of an angry person
In this period of flux and unpredictability, CBT teaches a range of coping skills, such as relaxation techniques, mindfulness, and stress management. These strategies help individuals develop healthier ways of dealing with stress and adversity, reducing the negative impact on their resilience. It also offers constructive strategies to overcome our limits and fears, rooted in false beliefs, that inhibit us from moving forward in life. Behavioral modification in CBT encourages individuals to engage in activities that promote well-being and build resilience. By gradually increasing exposure to challenging situations, individuals can develop confidence and adaptive responses, strengthening their resilience over time.
It is FREE to register. However, you also have the option of donating an amount of your choosing. Your generosity keeps us putting on these events. Donations also go towards the development of an on-site location near the original site of Plato’s Academy in Akademia Platonos, Athens.
Plato’s Library will consist of bi-weekly posts containing exclusive excerpts from recent and forthcoming books on ancient philosophy, and related subjects. We have carefully selected this passages in consultation with publishers to give you a taste of the high-value content written by leading experts in the field. Some of these passages are advance previews from books that are not yet published — so you get a sneak peek at forthcoming titles. The Plato’s Academy Centre have been able to arrange this especially for our Substack subscribers because of our strong links with senior figures in the publishing industry.
Full access to this column is for our paying subscribers only, but free subscribers will receive brief previews of the content. Below you’ll find links to three of the excerpts recently published. Please comment on Substack, letting us and the authors know what you think. Thank you, once again, for your support. The Plato’s Academy Centre is a nonprofit organization. We wouldn’t be able to achieve our goals without you, our loyal subscribers!
Thank you for reading Plato’s Academy Centre Newsletter. This post is public so feel free to share it.
Below you can read an exclusive excerpt courtesy of Princeton University Press from Michael Fontaine’s new book, How to Tell a Joke: An Ancient Guide to the Art of Humor. Is it possible for jokes to win over a hostile room, a seemingly unwinnable argument, or even an election? According to Cicero, the answer is a resounding yes.
This is an excerpt from Plato’s Republic: A Ladybird Expert Book reproduced by kind permission of the author, Prof. Angie Hobbs, and her publisher, Penguin. Philosophers, sophists, and alternative facts Why is Plato so committed to the existence of knowledge? Why is he not prepared to countenance the possibility that humans might have to withhold judgement?
How would you like to learn to be more Stoic? The latest book from Tim LeBon, research director of Modern Stoicism and cognitive-behavioral therapist, is called 365 Ways to Be More Stoic. So, what, according to the Stoics, is under our direct control? Less than most of us think… The problem is we spend so much time trying to control other things.
Plato’s Academy Centre is honored to welcome author William O. Stephens as a guest speaker at our event commemorating Marcus Aurelius’ birthday, Marcus Aurelius Anniversary on Wed, April 26th—featuring Donald Robertson and Dr. John Sellars. The event is a symposium that will examine, discuss, and celebrate the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, as well as its practical relevance in today’s world.
William O. Stephens holds the title of Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Creighton University in Nebraska and specializes in various fields such as ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, ethics, animals, and the environment. He is an accomplished author with a focus on philosophy, having written several books including Marcus Aurelius: A Guide for the Perplexed, Stoic Ethics: Epictetus and Happiness as Freedom, and Epictetus’s ‘Enchiridion’: A New Translation and Guide to Stoic Ethics. Additionally, he has an interest in Stoicism as a way of life, as well as Stoicism’s relationship with popular culture.
Plato’s Academy Centre invites all individuals to participate in a complimentary virtual event held on Wed April 26th in honor of Marcus Aurelius’ birthday. Even if you cannot attend the live event, you can register now and receive a link to the recorded video.
Plato’s Academy Centre Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
While the event is free, donations to support the nonprofit Plato’s Academy Centre are welcome and greatly appreciated. Your contribution will aid in the organization and execution of similar events in the future.
This event is completely free of charge, but you can donate to our nonprofit if you want to help us to continue providing similar events in the future. Not available or in a different time zone? Don’t worry as recordings of all presentationswill be provided afterwards if you book your tickets now.
In today’s society, it seems like we are living in a world that is becoming increasingly polarized. This division can be seen in politics, social issues, and even personal beliefs. This growing divide is not only concerning, but it also has the potential to have disastrous consequences. The question then becomes, what can we do to save rational discourse and bring civility back into the conversation?
AtHow Can We Save Rational Discourse, top academics and authors will come together to discuss how we can use philosophy to bring civility and rational discourse back into the political arena. The event will explore questions such as how philosophy can help us understand the roots of political polarization, how it can be used to bridge divides, and how it can help us develop more nuanced and thoughtful approaches to policy issues. This event on March 11th provides a unique opportunity to explore how philosophy can help us to do just that.
This is the last chance to register for the event, so don’t miss out on being a part of this important conversation!
A few comments from our last event
“Plato Academy’s virtual events are a pleasure to watch. I learn so much, so fast!”
“Ancient philosophy for modern leadership is a critical event for today’s leaders to show how some challenges are persisting throughout the ages and that virtue, in contrast to profits, is timeless. I’d recommend it to every leader and manager who wants to achieve positive social impact.”
If you’re finding it challenging to handle the highly divisive and polarizing nature of politics, rest assured that you’re not alone. We encourage you to advocate for the principles of composed, reasoned, and constructive discussions with individuals who are significant to you, including your family, friends, or coworkers. (Simply enter NODONATION if you don’t wish to donate to the nonprofit.)
Be supporting the Plato’s Academy Centre in its project goals! Spreading awareness of the modern relevance of ancient philosophy, and helping to bring philosophy back to the original location of Plato’s Academy in Athens!
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Last year, we were proud, in addition to launching our program of virtual events, to be able to assist in organizing a historic event in Plato’s Academy Park, in collaboration with the Aurelius Foundation and Young Presidents Organization. The Greek ministers for Development and Culture gave us their support, as did the US ambassador to Greece, and we were honoured to have the mayor of Athens address our audience in Akadimia Platonos Park.
Spencer Klavan is the author of How to Save the West: Ancient Wisdom for 5 Modern Crises and assistant editor of The Claremont Review of Books and The American Mind at the Claremont Institute. With a PhD in Classics, Klavan's literary expertise is aided by his knowledge of many languages, including Ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. As a scholar who enjoys exploring how great works of literature provide valuable insights into today's world, Klavan hosts Young Heretics every Tuesday.Highlights* Rational discourse is a team sport, a shared pursuit for the wisdom we both seek about the thing and the effort we make at getting it* Seeking excellence, moral virtue, and flourishing is the first step, the atomic building block, for living well together—seeking mutual good in the form of community and relationships* Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 9.8* Fundamentally, when we form political community, we do so because we collectively agree that there is such a thing as justicePlato's Academy Centre Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. Get full access to Plato's Academy Centre Newsletter at platosacademycentre.substack.com/subscribe
Andrew McConnell is the Founder and CEO of Rented.com, and the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Get Out of My Head: Creating Modern Clarity with Stoic Wisdom. Prior to launching Rented, he founded and ran VacationFutures, Inc. as well as Rented Capital, LLC. Before setting out on his own, Andrew worked with some of the world’s largest public and private entities as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, and as a Director, Solutions Design at Axiom Global, Inc. His prior experience also includes putting his law degrees to more immediate use at Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP and Ashe, Rafuse & Hill, as well as time at Merrill Lynch. A former member of the US National Team in Open Water Swimming, Andrew received his A.B. in History from Harvard University, his J.D. from Harvard Law School, and his LL.M. from the University of Cambridge, Trinity Hall.
How did you become interested in this area?
I studied philosophy some in college, but admittedly it did not really stick. The books remained on my shelf, read but not understood. As I began my career, I felt a depth missing from my life. I was an avid reader of contemporary non-fiction, and from Tim Ferriss, Ryan Holiday, and others, I came across more and more references to Meditations, the letters of Seneca, and the teachings of Epictetus. At a certain point it became a critical mass pointing me in the direction of the source materials, and my journey to becoming a student of philosophy began.
What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?
In our modern and materialistic society there remains a single asset we can own:our mind. And yet, despite this, we unthinkingly give our mind away constantly, living as tenants rather than owners. Though this is our default state, and in many ways “natural,” it need not remain our end state. Mind ownership is something we should all aspire to and can all achieve.
What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?
Do the thing or don’t, but don’t spend your time not doing the thing thinking about it.
Do you have a favorite quote that you use?
Other people aren’t the problem.
paraphrase from Charlotte Joko Beck, “The Other Person is Never the Problem”
What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?
What I “do” is not singular. I write, and you can learn more about that from my book, as well as my blog. I also build companies. You can follow my journey through my 100 articles for Forbes. I am a husband, a father, an athlete, and a lifelong student, and I share my journey on all of this on my blog, through third party outlets, and through social (LinkedIn and Instagram).
Suppose you were able to give a talk or workshop at the original location of Plato’s Academy, in Athens.
I would feel intimidated and inspired to deliver the performance of my life. I could not imagine a greater honor than to be on the spot of so much history, and to be able to speak on topics that are innately human and as applicable today as in Plato’s time.
Plato’s Academy Centre aims to make ancient philosophy accessible and easily digestible to the public.
The Plato’s Academy Centre project is featured in the latest issue (Fall 2022) of the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR). SSIR is an award-winning print and digital magazine publication, and website, covering cross-sector solutions to global problems. It was launched by the Center for Social Innovation (CSI) at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and currently published at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS). It’s aimed at social change leaders from around the globe, and online it reaches an estimated 2.5 million visitors per annum. So we’re very pleased with the publicity this brings to our nonprofit startup in Greece!
The article, titled Reviving the Ancients, was written by journalist Aisha Malik. She interviewed Donald Robertson, our president, and Justin Stead, from our board of advisors.
For centuries, Greece was the cornerstone of Western philosophy. To walk where philosophy originated, to walk in the footsteps of Plato and Socrates is to imagine how this tradition began.
Donald Robertson, president of Plato’s Academy Centre
“The center’s mission”, Malik writes, “is to make ancient philosophy—from the Socratic method to Plato’s dialogues that illustrate the method in practice—accessible and easily digestible to the public.”
The intention, says the center’s communications director, Kasey Robertson, is “to bring international business to Greece and build up an area that could use some development.” She says that the nonprofit will add jobs to the economy by employing local youth to assist with event programming.
The center receives funding from the Aurelius Foundation, an organization that shares similar goals about the preservation of philosophical integrity and the pursuit of knowledge. “We are partnering and supporting the Plato Academy project, as this initiative fits squarely into our mission,” says Justin Stead, who launched the foundation in 2019 to promote Stoicism. “We are looking to increase the awareness and application of Stoicism within younger generations,” he says, including CEOs and business leaders who could apply Stoic principles to “the development of their strategic plans, tactical executions, and cultural/teamwork initiatives.”
This is great publicity for our project. Donald previously wrote a feature on Stoicism and mentioned the Plato’s Academy Centre project in the 2021 edition of Governance Matters, published by the Chandler Institute. This new article goes into more detail about Plato’s Academy Centre and, we hope, will introduce our nonprofit’s work to a wider international audience.
Please check out the full article online, Reviving the Ancients, and help us spread the word by sharing the link on social media.
Plato’s Academy Centre (PAC) recently provided a helping hand to the YPO and Aurelius Foundation, who organized a historic four-day Stoicism event in Athens.
The YPO is an international business networking organization for young CEOs. The Aurelius Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to spreading Stoic wisdom, through the four cardinal virtues, including doing outreach in universities and prisons. The Aurelius Foundation organized this unique event in Athens in collaboration with the YPO, and PAC were pleassed to offer some advice on local venues, etc.
Reception: Gennadius Library Gardens
The opening reception was held on the evening of 22nd September in the beautiful east gardens of the Gennadius Library. Tassos Economou, the emeritus chair of YPO, set the tone perfectly for the event. Lina Mendoni, the Minister for Culture and Sports, was out of the country but kindly sent a letter expressing her support for the event. Adonis Georgiadis, the Minister for Development and Investment, and George James Tsunis, the US Ambassador to Greece gave rousing speeches about Stoicism. They were followed by Bettany Hughes OBE, author of The Hemlock Cup, who got everyone excited for all the philosophy and history to come over the next few days.
Lina Mendoni, the Minister for Culture and Sports, was unable to attend, unfortunately, as she was abroad, but she forwarded a statement of support for the event.
Organizing “Stoicism in Business” in Athens, the womb of classical Greek culture, hosted by the Aurelius Foundation and the YPO, combines and connects humanities with business in an exemplary and original way. In recent years, more and more successful business executives, organizational and administrative managers are expressing a strong interest in humanities and especially philosophy. […] I welcome you to Athens, the city whose history of thousands of years is everywhere visible and legible. I would like to warmly congratulate the initiators and organizers of this inspiring conference and wish you success in your endeavours.
Lina Mendoni, Greek Minister for Culture and Sports
This was followed by a joint networking event with the YPO Aegean / Macedonia chapter in the National Gallery. VIP guests on the first evening were Dr. Maria Georgopoulou, Director of the Gennadius Library, and Pantelis Panos, General Manager of the American School for Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA).
Main Conference: Cotsen Hall
The main conference was held the following day in Cotsen Hall, with support from the American School for Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA).
Donald Robertson, of the Plato’s Academy Centre, and Justin Stead, of the Aurelius Foundation, hosted the event, which featured keynotes from Dr. John Sellars (“Modern Stoicism”), chair of the Modern Stoicism nonprofit, and Angie Hobbs (“Stoicism and the Good Life”), professor of the public understanding of philosophy at Exeter University.
Our other speakers included Karen Duffy, author of Wise Up; Artemios Miropoulos, author of The Nameless King; Pat Cash, a former Wimbledon tennis champion; and Tim LeBon, research director of Modern Stoicism, who organized workshops on Stoicism and emotional resilience. We also had a panel discussing Stoicism in Business, including Tassos Economou, Michalis Michael, Justin Stead, and Greg Galant.
Conference: Plato’s Academy Park
We are especially grateful to the mayor and municipality of Athens for permission to hold an open-air event, under a marquee tent, in the historic location of Plato’s Academy Park. Keynotes on 24th were by Bettany Hughes OBE (“The roots of Stoicism – Socrates, Confucius, Buddha”) and Donald Robertson (“Plato’s Academy Park: The Past and Future”), with presentations from Andy Small, about Stoicism in UK prisons; Anthony Magnabosco, on Street Epistemology; and Mark Tuitert, an Olympic gold medallist in speed skating. We also had a panel (“What can we learn from classical wisdom?”) featuring Angie Hobbs, Bettany Hughes, and John Sellars.
Kostas Bakoyannis, the Mayor of Athens, spoke to the audience, and stressed his support for the event, and his desire to see it return to this historic location in the future. The conference was followed by tours of the Ancient Agora and Acropolis.
Regarding the event at Akadimia Platonos, Minister Mendoni, wrote in her speech:
Over time, there have been different influences on philosophical currents. However, the space of the Academy echoes the principles of Plato’s “State”. The grove of the Academy was one of the three important groves of ancient Athens. The archaeological site of Plato’s Academy coincides with the ancient “Gardens of Academus”, a verdant idyllic place, in the western suburbs of ancient Athens, where in the 6th century BC. the Gymnasium of Akadimia had been founded.
In this area, where there were sanctuaries of the Muses, Athena, Zeus Morius – patron and guardian of the sacred olive trees of Athens – , Hephaestus, Hercules, etc., Plato founded in 387 BC. his philosophical school, named Akadimia, after Academus. It was a place dedicated to education and sports, the first university in history, which also gave the concept of having a campus to universities all over the world.
Lina Mendoni, Greek Minister for Culture and Sports
Cruise to Cape Sounion
The event concluded on the 25th with a boat trip to Cape Sounion and the ancient Temple of Poseidon. We had a mini conference on the boat with talks from Mick Mulroy, of the Lobo Institute, on Stoicism in the military, and Eugenia Manolidou, of Elliniki Agogi, on philosophy and the power of the ancient Greek language.
There was also a panel of young Stoics, discussing Stoicism and leadership, including Sukhraj Gill, Ross Paton, Dhruv Makwana, and Lori Huica.
The event seemed to be a huge success overall, based on the feedback we’ve had so far, and we learned many things that will benefit us when running future events in Athens. We already have plans for several new events in Athens, which will be open to everyone. If you want to be notified about them, just subscribe to our email newsletter or follow our social media accounts.