UW School Member Featured in Chapter of Philosophy Book | Information
November 30, 2020
A faculty member at the University of Wyoming who teaches the ancient philosophy of stoicism is featured in a chapter on the subject in a recently published philosophy book.
Rob Colter, professor at UW’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, is featured in How To Deal With Epictetus, a chapter in The Socrates Express: In Search of Lessons From The Lives Of Dead Philosophers.
Author Eric Weiner combined his passion for philosophy and global travel to learn lessons from the lives of great thinkers around the world, including Epicurus, Thoreau, Gandhi and Socrates. He traveled thousands of miles to find out how earlier philosophers can offer practical lessons for today’s troubled times. His pursuit of this wisdom led him to Colter and Wyoming Stoic Camp in 2017.
Colter is the founder and director of Wyoming Stoic Camp, a five-day camp hosted by the UW Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies in the Snowy Range. The goal of the camp is to experiment with a thoroughly philosophical life – using the Stoics as a model – and find out what it means to live intentionally.
Weiner learned about the camp from an announcement he saw at Stoicon, a modern day stoicism conference held in New York in the fall of 2016. The following May he traveled to Wyoming to attend camp and learn more about ancient philosophy.
“Eric wrote his book, which is an exploration of a number of ‘schools’ of philosophy, and it was part of that exploration to come to my camp,” says Colter. “He had vaguely told me that his camp experience would influence his book, but I had no specific idea what that meant.”
In “How to deal with Epictetus” Weiner records his experiences in the camp. In the mornings, a large group will talk about the Greek philosopher Epictetus and his “handbook”, while in the afternoon a small group session will talk about Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor and philosopher, and his works.
Throughout this chapter, Weiner focuses on a key principle of stoicism: some things are under our control – like our thoughts, judgments, and actions – and almost everything else is not. It contains anecdotes Colter shared with campers about how his practice of stoicism helped him deal with adversity.
Weiner also shares some of the conversations he and Colter shared.
“I enjoyed his company, but I got the feeling that practicing stoicism is not very natural for him,” says Colter.
The two will have another conversation soon. Weiner will be a guest on “Stoa Nova Conversations”, an online program that Colter is hosting with Massimo Pigliucci, Professor of Philosophy at City College in New York. Weiner will speak about his latest work on Sunday, December 13th at 11am. Further information and the program can be found at www.meetup.com/Stoa-Nova/events.
Colter says he is flattered to be included in Weiner’s book.
“I am grateful that my work has had an impact, and it can continue to do so through Eric’s book,” says Colter.
Colter’s work also includes courses ranging from a first year seminar – Philosophy as a Way of Life – to more advanced courses in epistemology and ancient Greek and Roman philosophy.
In addition to teaching UW students, Colter teaches philosophy to incarcerated men and women in the state. Since 2017 he has been involved in the Wyoming Pathways from Prison program, a college program for prisons. That year he was named co-executive director of the program.