“If anyone can refute me—show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective—I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone.” – Marcus Aurelius
Throughout the ages, many schools of philosophy have emerged in an attempt to give man a prism through which to analyze the light of his life. In fact, Freemasonry can be viewed and explained as a system for intellectual and moral self improvement akin to the most influential schools of philosophy from antiquity. In an effort to better understand ourselves and our gentle craft, the Valley of Dayton Study circle is sponsoring a 3 part educational series focusing on one of the foundational philosophies that permeates our rituals, traditions, and teachings. This series, open to all members of the Valley of Dayton, will focus on the philosophical tradition of Stoicism. During this educational experience, we will learn the history of Stoicism, read one of its core texts, and host a round table discussion regarding the intersection of Stoic thought and Freemasonry. The first section of the series will be an evening with Dr. G. Matthew Adkins from the Humanities Department at Columbus State held on Zoom. Dr Adkins, the author of The Idea of the Sciences in French Enlightenment, A Reinterpretation, will speak on the history, origins, and tenets of Stoicism on Sunday January 24, 2021 at 7 PM. Dr Adkins has kindly provided a copy of one of his research papers, Was Condorcet a Stoic? Rousseau, Universal Education, and Rational Autonomy in the French Enlightenment as a background piece. This paper is merely additional information for those interested and not necessary to attend, understand, or appreciate his presentation on Stoicism. The second portion of this series, to be held February 21, 2021, will be a group discussion on one of the seminal texts of Stoicism, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. This work is a compilation of the personal reflections of Marcus Aurelius, the last of the 5 Good Emperors of Rome. It is an intimate look into the private thoughts of a powerful man on how he could best improve himself on a daily basis. This work is available through your local bookseller, Amazon, Google Play Books (free version available), and Apple Books (free version available). During this discussion, participants are encouraged to bring their favorite quotes from Meditations to the group so that all can consider the importance and impact those words have for them. Details on the format (virtual or in person) will be given at a later date when the health situation in the Valley of Dayton can be better gauged. During the ultimate session of the series, to be held on March 21, 2021 via Zoom, Bro. Michael Cockroft, a past presenter on the Sunday Stoic podcast (episode 186), will lead the group in a discussion of Stoicism from a Masonic point of view. He will help us uncover the stoic influences and themes present in the rituals and traditions of Freemasonry, especially in the Scottish Rite. This will be an open dialogue for the brethren to explore their thoughts on what they have read and learned, and examine how they feel about the tenets of Stoicism within the Craft. Links and details for this discussion will be provided in early March via email and Facebook. The Valley is looking forward to having you join in with us for this unique educational opportunity.