Harmonia

A Forum for and the Background of the Mediation of Dialogue in Ancient and Modern Academies

Friday, 2 September 2016

Beginning of the New Academic Year 2016/17

Verum gaudium res severa est.

Preserving some fond memories of stimulating philosophical discussions in Marco Zingano's circle in S√£o Paulo (on Plato's immortality in the Phaedo and the tripartition of the soul in the Republic), I am back in London's fall. I have been enjoying taking care of the last paper on Marcus while also setting up the WT upper level class on my beloved Stoic philosopher and emperor, with the focus on plasticity of mind and time.

For now I am having a great time in the class and out of it. For our Phaedo bit, I have been asking my students to come up with their explanation of why Socrates' friends are saddened and fall into despair after the two objections that Simmers and Cebes raise, whereas Socrates himself is not depressed when his expectations are not met by Anaxagoras. We are reading the Phaedo as a dialogue that makes a fuss, and rightly so, about the right attitude toward pleasure and the bodily realm, and toward arguments. No surprise that the piece on the pure pleasures of learning in the Phaedo is being expanded.

Step by step, I am preparing myself for the last session and the metaphor of the cylinder and the problem of determinism and compatibilism in Stoicism: both Chrysippus' and Marcus Aurelius' cylinders. It is a pleasure to get some good help on this.



PS: My attention was lately drawn to the poem "Golden Anniversary", composed by the Polish poet, who was awarded with the Nobel prize in literature 1996, Wislawa Szymborska. The original is in Polish. The beauty radiates in the English translation, and amazingly so. Some of Alice Munro's short stories from her "Runaway", on three of which Almodóvar based his last film, and which I had wished to read, have been back-burnered.

PPS: I am very happy that I will be presenting on Marcus Aurelius, the experience of time and the cure of affective disorders at an interdisciplinary conference in Glasgow next year, a venue that is devoted to psychotherapy. This I call the delight of 2016. I wish the good trends of collaboration between mental health people and philosophers, among others, would spread in North America. UK is blazing a trail. Let's learn how to follow.