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Working With Appearances

After completing a whirlwind tour of the Stoic take on the passions, we will now turn our attention to one of the most fundamental aspects of Stoic psychology: the phantasia and how to work with them.

The Stoics held that the world appears to us as a bundle of sensations coupled with automatic feelings and judgements called phantasia (often translated as "appearances" or sometimes "impressions"). These appearances can be misleading, and if we buy into, or assent to, misleading ones we suffer as a result. In short: assenting to false appearances is what makes the passions that we discussed in the previous meetups arise.

In this meetup, we'll take a look at what Epictetus had to say about appearances and how to work with them by reading three selections from his Discourses (listed in the order in which I think it makes the most sense to read them)

•Discourses 2.18
•Discourses 3.8
•Discourses 1.27

These three chapters lay out the basics of what appearances are and how to work with them so that one can flourish as a human being. Phantasia is translated here as "appearances."

As usual, please choose at least one passage, perhaps more, that you would like to read out loud and discuss with the group.

Come and explore this fundamental aspect of Stoic theory and practice!

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