Dr John Sellars


Visiting Research Fellow, Department of Philosophy, King's College London

Member of Common Room, Wolfson College, Oxford

Personal profile

Dr John Sellars is a Reader in Philosophy at Royal Holloway, a Visiting Research Fellow at King's College London, and a member of Wolfson College, Oxford. He was previously a Research Fellow at King’s College London, where he worked on the Ancient Commentators on Aristotle project (with which he remains involved, as Associate Editor) and, before that, a Lecturer in Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London. 

He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

Research interests

His research focuses on the history of philosophy, primarily ancient philosophy and its later influence, and in particular Stoicism and its reception. His first book, The Art of Living: The Stoics on the Nature and Function of Philosophy (2003; 2nd edn 2009) examined the way in which Stoic philosophy was located within a broader conception of philosophy as a way of life. His second book, Stoicism (2006), was described by reviewers as ‘excellent’, ‘outstanding’, and ‘the best introduction to the subject’. More recently, he edited The Routledge Handbook of the Stoic Tradition (2016), charting the influence of Stoic ideas from antiquity to the present day. His third authored book, Hellenistic Philosophy, was published by Oxford University Press in 2018; his fourth, Lessons in Stoicism, came out with Penguin in 2019 and is being translated into Greek, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Polish, Korean, and Chinese. His fifth book, on Marcus Aurelius, came out with Routledge in 2020, and his sixth, The Fourfold Remedy: Epicurus and the Art of Happiness, has been published by Penguin in January 2021. 

He is currently working on three new contracted book projects: Barlaam of Seminara on Stoic Ethics (with C. R. Hogg), The Cambridge Companion to Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, and Brill's Companion to Musonius Rufus (with Liz Gloyn). 

His current research falls into the following categories:

  • Stoicism, with a particular focus on Roman Stoicism. Recent work has included a number of papers on Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, and bibliographies on both for Oxford Bibliographies Online. His book on Marcus Aurelius appeared with Routledge in 2020. 

  • The Stoic Tradition. As well as editing The Routledge Handbook of the Stoic Tradition (2016), he has published articles on the reception of Stoicism in the Renaissance and in early modern philosophy (Lipsius, Henry More, Shaftesbury, Ralph Cudworth).

  • Renaissance Philosophy. A number of current projects deal with aspects of Renaissance philosophy. These have included the reception of Stoicism in the period (noted above) and work on how philosophy was conceived during the period (see below), as well as work on the Aristotelian philosopher Pietro Pomponazzi. 

  • Philosophy as a Way of Life, an approach to philosophy formulated by Pierre Hadot, whose work influenced the late work of Michel Foucault. The idea informed The Art of Living (2003) and has been a continuing theme in his work ever since. Recently, he has been working on a series of papers (that may come together into a monograph) that uses the idea of philosophy as a way of life to bring out otherwise neglected features of the philosophy of the Renaissance.

For further information, visit www.johnsellars.org.uk.

For preprints of many publications, visit royalholloway.academia.edu/JohnSellars

Follow the links for more information about work on Stoicism at Royal Holloway and about impact with Stoic Philosophy. Sellars is one of the founder members (and currently Chair) of Modern Stoicism, the organization behind 'Stoic Week', and he is also one of the founder members of The Aurelius Foundation. You can hear him talk about this work in the Royal Holloway podcast, 'Seminar Sessions, Ep. 5: Do Stoics Have Emotions?'.  

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