Stoicism

caveat lector

There is a difference between “Stoicism” and “‘stoicism”; the word’s lowercase use as a noun and an adjective, meaning “not affected by or showing passion or feeling”, has been occurring since the 15th/16th Century. When capitalised, the term refers to the school of philosophy founded about 300 b.c. by Zeno of Citium, and takes it’s name from “stoa” – the Greek word for porch.3

The Daily Stoic provides a list of more recent Stoics, with the best known Stoics across all the referenced resources being Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius.

Stoics distinctive ethical views are tied to the systemic nature of their philosophy. As one of the new philosophical movements of the Hellenistic period, not a single complete work by any of the first three heads of the Stoic school (the Old Stoa) remain. So for detailed information about the Old Stoa, their pupils and associates there are only the doxographies or other philosophers, nearly all of whom are hostile witnesses, to provide account. There are areas in which scholars have reached a fair amount of consensus regarding Stoic thought, but in other areas the interpretation of the limited evidence available is hotly contested. 1

Several sites (2,4,5) identify Four Cardinal Virtues of Stoic Philosophy, though most do not elaborate on what a Stoic Virtue is. For Stoics, values are “knowledge or science within the soul about how to live”, from Socratic moral theory. Stoics have an understanding of the concept of “happiness” that cannot be fully understood apart from Stoic views on value and human psychology.1 For Stoics, cultivating an excellent mental state is the key.6

  • Courage
  • Justice
  • Temperance
  • Wisdom

Eudaimonia

amor fati

memento mori

Concerns and Criticisms

In order to understand any philosophical stance, it is important to also consider the critiques, concerns, and criticisms. The following videos offer a sample of those critiques.


  1. Baltzly, Dirk, “Stoicism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.) https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2019/entries/stoicism/
  2. Daily Stoic (n.d.). What Is Stoicism? A Definition & 9 Stoic Exercises To Get You Started. Retrieved September 17, 2022, from https://dailystoic.com/what-is-stoicism-a-definition-3-stoic-exercises-to-get-you-started/
  3. Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Stoic. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved September 17, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stoic
  4. Orion Philosophy (n.d.). What Is Stoicism? – A Beginner’s Guide. Retrieved September 17, 2022, from https://www.orionphilosophy.com/stoic-blog/what-is-stoicism
  5. WhatIsStoicism.com (n.d.). What Is Stoicism? Retrieved September 17, 2022, from https://whatisstoicism.com/what-is-stoicism/
  6. Sellers, J (2018). “Want to be happy? Then live like a Stoic for a week”, The Conversation, Retrieved October 4, 2022, from https://theconversation.com/want-to-be-happy-then-live-like-a-stoic-for-a-week-103117
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One thought on “Stoicism

  1. Good starting books on Stoicism: Letters from a stoic by Seneca & Meditations by Aurelius – thank you to one of our hangout participants for the suggestions!

    Like

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