Sunday, December 11, 2016

how would Stoicism fare today?

Stoicism is a school of philosophy which was founded in Athens in the early 3rd century and then progressed to Rome, where it became a pragmatic way of addressing life’s problems. The central message is, we don’t control what happens to us; we control how we respond.
The Stoics were really writing and thinking about one thing: how to live. The questions they asked were not arcane or academic but practical and real. “What do I do about my anger?” “What do I do if someone insults me?” “I’m afraid to die; why is that?” “How can I deal with the difficult situations I face?” “How can I deal with the success or power I hold?” [The Guardian]


  1. stoic |ˈstōik|
    1 a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining.
    2 (Stoic) a member of the ancient philosophical school of Stoicism.

    And yet, we act on our feelings rather than enlightened interests. It would make a good poker player or capitalist, but ignores what might make a good human.

  2. Olcharlie -- A little counterpoint from the article:
    "While it would be hard to find a word dealt a greater injustice at the hands of the English language than “stoicism”— with its mistaken connotations of austerity and lack of emotion — in fact, nothing could be more necessary for our times than a good dose of Stoic philosophy."

  3. We could certainly lower expectations and whine less, but i am strongly drawn to the epicurean philosophy of simple pleasures. Maybe a middle ground. Stoicism always struck me as somewhat taoist, but yes, i'm responding to the modern take on the term. When a dog of mine refused to respond to the prodding of a vet, he was said to have gone "stoic". When a term, however misrepresented from original usage becomes a diagnostic term, it strikes me as indelible.

  4. Two Cents

    Thanks for this post. Haven't thought about Zeno and Stoicism for at least a decade.

    In the discussion of philosophy, one goes out one's way to clarify terms including every day usage. It's usually best to set aside current common usage.

    With respect to the philosophy of Stoicism (or in fact any school of philosophy) one needs to factor in context. One essential point in bringing in context is to realize that the a considerable number of Ancient Greek intellectuals were interested figuring out just what "a life worth living was." A second point is that champions of various philosophical schools freely debated each other; it is important to be aware of Zeno's influences and the thoughts, beliefs and practices of other schools, Of course local culture of the times must be factored in.

    What is not clear is how and to what extent the various adherents like the Stoicists actually lived what the advocated.

    Somewhere from 300 BCE to today Stoicism has come to mean a way of where in which people strive to be free from passion, unmoved by joy or grief, and submit without complaint to unavoidable necessity." --

    I suggest starting at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy -