What Is Stoicism? A Strong Ethical Philosophy

Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. It is a personal ethical philosophy shaped by his views on the logic system and the natural world. In this article, you will be informed about the history and small information about Stoicism.

Stoicism, knowing the value of the moment, not getting caught up in the past, changing our perspective of events, knowing ourselves, and knowing and accepting our limits, is a rising approach to the idea that happiness can be achieved.

How did stoicism arise?

It can be said as one of the schools of the Ancient Greek period with a pantheist and materialist approach for Stoicism. Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius are among the main Stoics seeking answers to questions such as the meaning of life, how to achieve happiness, what one should have to do with others, or what is one’s place in the world.

Who Is the First Stoic?

It was founded by Zeno of Citium, but its influence extended well beyond him to incorporate parts of ethics, metaphysics, logic, theology, and physiology. Its tough-minded Hellenistic ideals originated in Athens in the early 3rd century BCE based on teachings from Socrates. Its name derives from stoa “porch”, where Zeno gave his lectures to teach people in the port city’s public square about its principles for living in harmony with oneself and others under adverse conditions. 

The Stoics provided systematic philosophical arguments to substantiate their principles which are explored at length within these lectures or discussion groups called skhèmmata.


Stoicism Viewpoint

The Stoics have a materialistic and monist mindset in their metaphysical teaching. They accept that all objects are embodied. They acknowledged that an object that is not objectified is merely an illusion. What is material and materialized is real. The reason for this is that the tangible asset is conducive to being a passive element.

The Stoics also made an explanation to God. According to their opinions, at the source of the object, there is a principle that the substance exits from its core and returns to itself again, and the essence of this universe; Is God. It is considered a force that moves matter and does not exist without it. It is not made of any substance, nor is it shaped from it.

The Stoa Philosophy linked most things to their creator and cause god. From another perspective, the Stoics were obliged to obey all-natural processes such as life, illness, or death, and by believing in fate by trying to lead a virtuous life appropriate for nature. According to them, nothing would happen with the logic of coincidence; everything was born of necessity and reason, and complaining about fate would be useless; because god was always right and right.

In terms of physics’s doctrine, they rejected the atomist mindset and had a materialistic mindset that considered material and real. They accepted that the source of all designs is some impressions in the soul due to external influences. However, they are empirical, which acquire information through senses or consciousness as the principle of logic. They believed that the soul was like a sheet of paper that had never been written and filled with the impressions of the outer world over time, and some ideas that appeared in the soul had become personal concepts. So they placed the opposite of Plato between understanding, real knowledge, and delusion, and basing knowledge on sensory perception and some impressions.

The Stoic puts “mind” in the philosophical focus. According to them, the reality that exists in this world is in the form that our mind offers us. (In this sense, they call the world ‘Natural World’.) The Natural World, which does not hide any higher reality, is subject to rational principles and can be comprehended by reason. Man is also part of the Natural World. For them, God is the spirit of rationality that fills man and nature (that is, everything). So God is not separate from the world, apart from him; it is in this world and covers everywhere. In other words, God is the mind of this world.

According to the stoics; It is necessary to remember about death, that he is mortal and that his loved ones will die. So we can live life more accurately. Also, Stoics are not afraid of death; because you are where there is death. However, how you approach death, how you spend your time makes a difference for them.

The Stoic Reading List

The Big Three

1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

There is one translation of Marcus Aurelius to read and that is Gregory Hays’s amazing edition for the Modern Library. Everything else falls sadly short. His version is completely devoid of any “thou’s” “arts” “shalls.” It’s beautiful and haunting. I’ve recommended this book to literally thousands of people at this point. Buy it. Change your life.

2. Letters of a Stoic by Seneca (see also: On the Shortness of Life).

Seneca or Marcus are the best places to start if you’re looking to explore Stoicism. Seneca seems like he would have been a fun guy to know—which is unusual for a Stoic. I suggest starting with On the Shortness of Life (a collection of short essays) and then move to his book of letters (which are really more like essays than true correspondence).

3. Discourses by Epictetus.

Of the big three, Epictetus is the most preachy and least fun to read. But he will also from time to time express something so clearly and profoundly that it will shake you to your core.

More Books

Holiday points us to some other great authors too, who are in line with some stoic thinking.

Heraclitus Fragments 

Arthur Schopenhauer: Essays and Aphorisms 

Plutarch Lives

Conversations of Socrates

Cicero, On the Good Life

Montaigne: Essays 

Last Updated on December 2, 2021 by Lucas Berg


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