In Which School Of Philosophy People Do Not Wear Clothes?
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This article is about ancient Indian philosophers. For a modern philosophy under the same name, see Gymnosophy, Gymnosophists ( Ancient Greek : γυμνοσοφισταί, gymnosophistaí, i.e. “naked philosophers” or “naked wise men” (from Greek γυμνός gymnós “naked” and σοφία sophía “wisdom”)) is the name given by the Greeks to certain ancient Indian philosophers who pursued asceticism to the point of regarding food and clothing as detrimental to purity of thought.
- They were noted to have been vegetarian by several Greek authors.
- There were also gymnosophists in Upper Egypt who were called Ethiopean Gymnosophists by Apollonius of Tyana,
- In Greek literature, they are mentioned in association with the Persian magi, the Chaldaeans of the Assyrians or the Babylonians, the druids of the Celts, and the priests of Egypt.
Some sources claim that famous figures such as Lycurgus, Pythagoras, and Democritus may have met them. They are mentioned by authors such as Philo, Lucian, Clement of Alexandria, Philostratus, and Heliodorus of Emesa, These reports are thought to have served as models to Cynics as well as Christian ascetics. Medieval miniature reproducing the meeting of the gymnosophists with Alexander, c.1420, Historia de proelis
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- 1 What do Cynics believe?
- 2 How is Epicurus different from Plato?
- 3 Is nihilism cynical?
- 4 Does Epicurus believe in God?
- 5 What is a hedonist in bed?
- 6 What utilitarianism means?
- 7 What was the natural philosophy of Epicurus?
What is Epicurus philosophy?
|Roman marble bust of Epicurus|
|Born||February 341 BC Samos, Greece|
|Died||270 BC (aged about 72) Athens, Greece|
Epicurus (; Greek : Ἐπίκουρος Epikouros ; 341–270 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher and sage who founded Epicureanism, a highly influential school of philosophy, He was born on the Greek island of Samos to Athenian parents. Influenced by Democritus, Aristippus, Pyrrho, and possibly the Cynics, he turned against the Platonism of his day and established his own school, known as “the Garden”, in Athens.
- Epicurus and his followers were known for eating simple meals and discussing a wide range of philosophical subjects.
- He openly allowed women and slaves to join the school as a matter of policy.
- Of the over 300 works said to have been written by Epicurus about various subjects, the vast majority have been destroyed.
Only three letters written by him—the letters to Menoeceus, Pythocles, and Herodotus —and two collections of quotes—the Principal Doctrines and the Vatican Sayings —have survived intact, along with a few fragments of his other writings. As a result of his work’s destruction, most knowledge about his philosophy is due to later authors, particularly the biographer Diogenes Laërtius, the Epicurean Roman poet Lucretius and the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus, and with hostile but largely accurate accounts by the Pyrrhonist philosopher Sextus Empiricus, and the Academic Skeptic and statesman Cicero,
Epicurus asserted that philosophy’s purpose is to attain as well as to help others attain happy ( eudaimonic ), tranquil lives characterized by ataraxia (peace and freedom from fear) and aponia (the absence of pain). He advocated that people were best able to pursue philosophy by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends.
He taught that the root of all human neurosis is death denial and the tendency for human beings to assume that death will be horrific and painful, which he claimed causes unnecessary anxiety, selfish self-protective behaviors, and hypocrisy. According to Epicurus, death is the end of both the body and the soul and therefore should not be feared.
Epicurus taught that although the gods exist, they have no involvement in human affairs. He taught that people should act ethically not because the gods punish or reward them for their actions but because, due to the power of guilt, amoral behavior would inevitably lead to remorse weighing on their consciences and as a result, they would be prevented from attaining ataraxia,
Epicurus was an empiricist, meaning he believed that only the senses are a reliable source of knowledge about the world. He derived much of his physics and cosmology from the earlier philosopher Democritus ( c.460– c.370 BC). Like Democritus, Epicurus taught that the universe is infinite and eternal and that all matter is made up of extremely tiny, invisible particles known as atoms,
- All occurrences in the natural world are ultimately the result of atoms moving and interacting in empty space.
- Epicurus deviated from Democritus by proposing the idea of atomic “swerve”, which holds that atoms may deviate from their expected course, thus permitting humans to possess free will in an otherwise deterministic universe.
Though popular, Epicurean teachings were controversial from the beginning. Epicureanism reached the height of its popularity during the late years of the Roman Republic, It died out in late antiquity, subject to hostility from early Christianity, Throughout the Middle Ages Epicurus was popularly, though inaccurately, remembered as a patron of drunkards, whoremongers, and gluttons.
His teachings gradually became more widely known in the fifteenth century with the rediscovery of important texts, but his ideas did not become acceptable until the seventeenth century, when the French Catholic priest Pierre Gassendi revived a modified version of them, which was promoted by other writers, including Walter Charleton and Robert Boyle,
His influence grew considerably during and after the Enlightenment, profoundly impacting the ideas of major thinkers, including John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Jeremy Bentham, and Karl Marx,
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What are Epicurus beliefs called?
Epicureanism, in a strict sense, the philosophy taught by Epicurus (341–270 bce ). In a broad sense, it is a system of ethics embracing every conception or form of life that can be traced to the principles of his philosophy. In ancient polemics, as often since, the term was employed with an even more generic (and clearly erroneous) meaning as the equivalent of hedonism, the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the chief good.
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What do Cynics believe?
History of Cynicism – The classical Greek and Roman Cynics regarded virtue as the only necessity for happiness, and saw virtue as entirely sufficient for attaining it. Classical Cynics followed this philosophy to the extent of neglecting everything not furthering their perfection of virtue and attainment of happiness, thus, the title of Cynic, derived from the Greek word κύων (meaning “dog”) because they allegedly neglected society, hygiene, family, money, etc., in a manner reminiscent of dogs.
- They sought to free themselves from conventions; become self-sufficient; and live only in accordance with nature.
- They rejected any conventional notions of happiness involving money, power, and fame, to lead entirely virtuous, and thus happy, lives,
- The ancient Cynics rejected conventional social values, and would criticise the types of behaviours, such as greed, which they viewed as causing suffering.
Emphasis on this aspect of their teachings led, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, to the modern understanding of cynicism as “an attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others.” This modern definition of cynicism is in marked contrast to the ancient philosophy, which emphasized “virtue and moral freedom in liberation from desire.”
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What did Epicurus philosophy teach?
3. Metaphysics – Epicurus believes that the basic constituents of the world are atoms (which are uncuttable, microscopic bits of matter) moving in the void (which is simply empty space). Ordinary objects are conglomerations of atoms. Furthermore, the properties of macroscopic bodies and all of the events we see occurring can be explained in terms of the collisions, reboundings, and entanglements of atoms.
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What is the difference between Stoicism and Epicureanism?
Wisdom Stoic and Epicurean —two words that do not mean what people think they mean. The image of the Stoic is the unfeeling, emotionless brute and the Epicurean as the pleasure-loving, self-indulgent hedonist, Stereotypes always fall short, but in this case, the common understanding of what it means to be a follower of the Stoics or Epicureanism has dealt two vibrant philosophies a grave injustice.
- Both philosophies were founded in Athens around 300 B.C as the lives of both Zeno and Epicurus, the founders of the two schools, overlapped.
- They both counseled that we should avoid excessive pleasure and desires.
- And to settle an important point early on, Epicureanism did not advocate for excessive self-indulgence the way we may think they did.
(Just as the Stoics were not unfeeling and reject emotions.) One starting point, which might surprise many, is that it is worth noting just how much the Stoics borrowed from the opposing and rival philosophical school. While the Stoic philosopher Seneca did offer a critique of Epicurus in his Letters from a Stoic, it would be unfair not to mention the numerous times he positively quoted him.
In one letter, he writes, “My thought for today is something which I found in Epicurus (yes, I actually make a practice of going over to the enemy’s camp – by way of reconnaissance, not as a deserter!). ‘A cheerful poverty,’ he says, ‘is an honourable state.'” In another, Seneca says this to his correspondent, Lucilius, “I’m still turning over the pages of Epicurus, and the following saying, one I read today, comes from him: ‘To win true freedom you must be a slave to philosophy.'” Why was Seneca quoting a ‘rival’ school, you may ask.
This was of course a question he had foreseen: “Quite possibly you’ll be demanding to know why I’m quoting so many fine sayings from Epicurus rather than ones belonging to our own school. But why should you think of them as belonging to Epicurus and not as common property?” Or as he once poignantly remarked: “I’ll never be ashamed to quote a bad writer with a good saying.” But this is true to form for Seneca.
- He was looking for wisdom, period.
- It didn’t matter where it came from.
- This is something that a lot of fundamentalists— in religion, philosophy, anything— seem to miss.
- Who cares whether some bit of wisdom is from a Stoic or an Epicurean, who cares whether it perfectly jibes with Stoicism? What matters is whether it makes your life better, whether it makes you better.
It is the same attitude Stoic Emperor Marcus Aurelius had, evoking Epicurus in one of his notes to self in Meditations : “And in most cases you should be helped by the saying of Epicurus, that pain is never unbearable or unending, so you can remember these limits and not add to them in your imagination.” ( Epictetus for his part, one of the other three major Stoic philosophers, does not borrow from Epicurus,
Instead, he “calls him preacher of effeminacy and showers abuse on him,” as Diogenes Laertius would say.) Let’s now examine the differences between the schools: Stoicism claims that living justly and virtuously is the highest good that one can experience, and that pleasure and pain are to be treated indifferently, while Epicureanism claims that we should seek to maximize our own pleasure (mainly by removing pain from our lives).
Pleasure, as Epicurus regarded it, was the “beginning and end of the blessed life.” And you’ve probably also heard of the famous garden of the Epicurean school and its motto as inscribed on the gate: “Stranger, you would do good to stay awhile, for here the highest good is pleasure.” For Epicureans, virtue was a means to an end, that is, pleasure, whereas for Stoics it was their guiding principle and the foundation of their way of life.
- As the Stoic philosopher Seneca said, “Let virtue lead the way: then every step will be safe.” As you can probably conclude, although the ways that both philosophies recommend we live are very similar, they ultimately point us towards differing ideals.
- They both offer ways to avoid pain in life; in Epicureanism by living very simply and having strong friendships, and in Stoicism by fully accepting the course of nature,
Epicureans claim we can be happy like the gods if we live free of anxiety—especially the fear of death and fear of the gods—and satisfy our basic desires. Epicureans believed in the atomistic theory of the world, and thought that when we died the atoms that made up our soul became disorganized and then we no longer exist.
As Epicurus said, “The most terrible evil, death, is nothing for us, since when we exist, death does not exist, and when death exists, we do not exist.” The Stoics sought to live in accordance with nature —emphasizing living in agreement with what happens, rather than rebelling against and lamenting what we cannot change.
As the Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “We are like a little appendage of Zeus, and who is an appendage to question the plans of the whole body?” Epicureans and Stoics also differ on how to avoid suffering. Stoics believe that all pain stems from our perceptions and that we have the ability to not suffer when things typically considered bad happen to us.
Epictetus again: “Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them.” The Stoics teach that one can be happy no matter what obstacles or tragedies they might face, By accepting all that happens to us in life and understanding that we are never harmed unless we believe we are, we can avoid suffering and live a joyful life.
Epicureans believe that avoiding pain means not fearing the gods or death, and not desiring things that are not both natural and necessary. Peace of mind should be maintained by living simply and having strong friendships with people you can count on.
Their ideal for life was to withdraw from public life (Epicurus’s principle: lathe biōsas, or ‘live hidden’), often by staying close to home, to avoid all complex desires, and spend a lot of time with close friends. As Epicurus said, “Of all the means to insure happiness throughout the whole life, by far the most important is the acquisition of friends.” The Stoic way of life does not involve withdrawing from society at all, however, and it is considered unvirtuous to do so.
The Stoics understand that we have obligations to each other and that public life depends on participation. A Stoic is supposed to fulfill his/her role in society and accept it even if it is a humble or stressful position. Failing to be a good citizen violates one of the four core Stoic virtues, justice.
- Both Epicureanism and Stoicism recommend not harming others or breaking the law, but for different reasons.
- Remember, the Stoics value virtue above all else, to the point that they believed that virtue was all one needed to be happy and all else should be viewed with equanimity.
- In other words, virtue gives meaning to life.
Epicureans view virtue much more practically. Epicurus said that you should not break the law because the fear of being punished would detract from your happiness, claiming that “injustice is not an evil in itself.” However, this fails to consider those who don’t feel bad breaking the law—the people who are most likely to break it.
Epicureans also believed in the importance of the social contract, the agreement not to harm each other, and described morality in terms of this agreement. Treating your friends correctly is important because it is what will make your friends loyal to you as well. As we mentioned earlier, Seneca, in Letters from a Stoic had strong criticisms for the Epicureans, and in particular their idea of friendship, which is one based on mutual self-interest.
“He who regards himself only, and enters upon friendships for this reason, reckons wrongly These are the so-called “fair-weather” friendships; one who is chosen for the sake of utility will be satisfactory only so long as he is useful He who begins to be your friend because it pays will also cease because it pays.” This is in contrast with Stoic friendship, one based on having things in common and admiring each other’s character.
Liking someone genuinely makes one more likely to put the friend’s interests above their own, a vital aspect of friendship. With virtue being only a means to an end in Epicureanism, it seems that the philosophy is indeed lacking when it comes to one of its primary prescriptions for life, having good friends.
What about the hedonism and pleasure aspect, you ask? How much of hedonists were the Epicureans after all? Recall that for the Epicureans what is considered good is pleasure. Nature has designed us in a way so that satisfying certain goals brings us happiness, and seeking this happiness is what is good and natural.
However, the pleasures we seek should not be excessive, because of the pain that tends to be the flip side of profound pleasure. As to avoid this pain, Epicurus divided pleasures into three categories: (1) natural and necessary, (2) natural and not necessary, and (3) not natural and not necessary. Natural and necessary pleasures are the ones we should always seek, because they are easily satisfied.
Having these alone is enough for peace of mind, a highly valued good in Epicureanism, These include the necessities of life such as eating, drinking, sleeping, shelter, social interaction, etc. Natural but unnecessary pleasures include sex, having children, or being held in high esteem by others.
- These aren’t needed for happiness, and we should avoid pursuing these too much to avoid suffering and not overcomplicate things.
- And to dispel the myth of the Epicureans as self-indulgent hedonists : There are unnatural and unnecessary pleasures, which are difficult to attain and include the usual vices of alcohol and excessive sexual pleasures.
Epicureanism teaches that we should always avoid these. Epicurus warned, regarding these last two categories, “He who is not satisfied with a little, is satisfied with nothing.” How does this contrast to Stoic philosophy? In Stoicism, virtue is the highest good and having a will that agrees with nature.
It is clearly best to want to happen what will happen anyway. Since it is natural that you will want to get the necessities of life, your urges should be accepted, but in Stoicism, it is equally acceptable for urges such as hunger and thirst to go unsatisfied; if it happens to us, we should accept it.
*** In summary, a simple heuristic to remember the difference between the Stoics and the Epicureans : The Stoics cared about virtuous behavior and living according to nature, while the Epicureans were all about avoiding pain and seeking natural and necessary pleasure.
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What is hedonism theory?
Skip to main content Hedonism is a form of consequentialism that approves of actions that produce pleasure and avoid pain. Hedonism is the belief that pleasure, or the absence of pain, is the most important principle in determining the morality of a potential course of action.
- Pleasure can be things like “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll,” but it can also include any intrinsically valuable experience like reading a good book.
- Hedonism is a type of consequentialism, and it has several forms.
- For example, normative hedonism is the idea that pleasure should be people’s primary motivation.
On the other hand, motivational hedonism says that only pleasure and pain cause people to do what they do. Egotistical hedonism requires a person to consider only his or her own pleasure in making choices. Conversely, altruistic hedonism says that the creation of pleasure for all people is the best way to measure if an action is ethical.
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How is Epicurus different from Plato?
Unlike Plato, who saw philosophical discussion as a means of applying the conclusions of pure reason regarding the essence of concepts, Epicurus saw such discussion as the rational elaboration of phenomena within the realm of physical and human reality.
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What is the difference between Epicureanism and hedonism?
Eudaemonism is a fairly general moral doctrine according to which the purpose of action is happiness. Hedonism is more specific. It affirms that it is by seeking pleasure that we find happiness. Epicureanism says that we should seek mainly simple, natural pleasures.
|THE PHILOSOPHIES OF PLEASURE|
Though the concept of hedonism (see sidebar) was not formalized until the 19th century, what it refers to goes back much earlier. Since ancient times, many philosophers have defended this way of conceiving the quest for happiness, centred on seeking pleasure while fleeing from pain,
|For the Epicureans, happiness is thus something attainable. But to attain it, we must distinguish those pleasures that are natural and necessary, such as eating and drinking, from those that are not. Since Epicureanism teaches that we must seek only those pleasures that are natural and necessary, it implies a certain asceticism. Compared with the unchecked pleasure-seeking that the word Epicureanism evokes today, the Epicureanism of antiquity thus involved a certain reserve. It was a fairly austere philosophy, which sacrificed certain pleasures to avoid greater displeasures.|
|After many centuries of repression, the philosophies inspired by the body were revived by Locke (1632-1704) and Hume (1711-1776) in England, as well as by Diderot (1713-1784) in France. These three men are the major representatives of what has been called sensualist ethics. Combining hedonism, materialism, and empiricism, sensualist morality, which appeared in the 17th and 18th centuries, was immediately criticized by idealist and religious philosophers.|
This is no surprise because, according to sensualist ethics, it is our senses that must be the criteria for judging good and bad. What brings satisfaction to our senses is called “good” and what displeases them is called “bad”. These philosophers recognized that we naturally seek to satisfy certain bodily needs, and that the pursuit of our desires and our pleasures enables us to establish standards for just action. For them, our knowledge and ideas also come from our senses, from the combination of our senses, and from the repetition of our experiences and observations. This idea that the well-being of the individual must be the foundation for morality evolved into Utilitarianism, a radical conception of the economic individual and economic society that emerged in the 19th century.
What is an example of Epicureanism?
Philosophy 302: Ethics Epicureanism Abstract: The ethics of Epicurus is briefly outlined.
Epicurus of Samos (341-270 B.C.) founded his school, the Garden, in Athens-instructed his followers in the art of rational living.
Main belief: pleasure is the end ( telos ) of life: by pleasure he meant the lack of pain.
Pleasure is the freedom of the body from pain and the soul from confusion-not a positive condition.Taught a moderate asceticism, self-control, and independence. One should not undertake heavy responsibilities and serious involvement.Pleasures which endure throughout a life-time are sought, not momentary pleasures. Epicurus praised a life that escapes other peoples notice.
Pleasure is the absence of pain or the avoidance of pain, rather than a positive satisfaction. More important, pleasure is the lack of a troubled soul.
Examples: intellectual pleasure, serenity of soul, health of body.Even though every pain is evil and pleasure good, Epicurean hedonism is meant to result in a calm and tranquil life, not libertinism and excess.
Avoid pleasures which are extreme: they have painful concomitants.Avoid pleasures which are extreme: they have painful concomitants.Lasting pleasure is not a bodily sensation. “Though he is being tortured on the rack, the wise is still happy.”
Epicurus distinguished between higher and lower pleasures (an influence on J.S. Mill ). higher pleasures: pleasures of the mind-intellectual and aesthetic. lower pleasures: pleasures of the body-food, drink, and sex.
Epicurus sought virtue -a condition of tranquillity of soul, Although it is based on the individuals pleasure (rather than duty).
Epicurus put great stress on friendship because ones own pleasure is dependent on others also.Peace of mind and mental well-being is achieved through philosophy-death is recognized to be merely the limit of experience and therefore having nothing to do with the quality of experience. It is not to be feared since it is nothingness.
Reason: the art of calculating our conduct of life.
Reason is the ability to balance one thing with another in order to calculate future happiness.
Great stress on practical reason ( phronesis ): something more to be prized than philosophy itself. Prudence : a person who knows how to conduct himself in the search for pleasure. Natural Science : All things is the world are atoms linked temporarily in constant motion. Science can overcome superstition and irrational fear.
The resulting outlook is something like the opportunity cost in economics: a recognition of the necessary losses in life.
Historically, Stoicism was absorbed into Epicureanism. Epicureanism was not a philosophy of heroes like Stoicism was.Objections to Epicureanism:
Epicurus seems to recommend “the absence of pain” as a pleasure more sought than pleasure itself. The state of no pain is not a pleasure- cf,, the fallacy of false dichotomy.What many persons feel are the most significant pleasures in life such as achieving a difficult goal, Epicurus counsels for us to avoid as not being meaningful. He seems to advise a philosophy of life-avoidance.Epicureanism is an incomplete ethics. How should we regard community virtues such as justice, societal good, and pleasure for others?
Recommended Sources Epicurus and Epicurean Philosophy : Links, texts, discussion lists, and other information is given relating to Epicurean philosophy.
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Is nihilism cynical?
Nihilism versus Cynicism – In Ancient Greece, a Cynic was someone who lived like a dog (the Greek kynikos means “doglike”), or, to be more precise, was someone who lived by the Cynic philosophy of staying true to nature rather than conforming to what that person saw as social artifice.
Today, a cynic is similarly someone who looks down on society and sees it as fake, though not because the cynic sees society as unnatural, but because the cynic sees the people who make up society as fake. To be cynical is to assume the worst of people, to think that morality is mere pretense, and to suppose that even when people seem to be helping others they are really only trying to help themselves.
Believing in only self-interest, the cynic appears to others to believe in nothing. Consequently, cynicism can appear to be nihilism. But it is not nihilism. A cynic can even enjoy life. In particular, a cynic can take pleasure in mocking those who claim that altruism exists, or that politicians are self-sacrificing public servants, and especially finds laughable the idea that we should try to see the good in people.
Cynicism, like pessimism, is about negativity. However, whereas pessimism is about despair, about the feeling that life is pointless in the face of death, cynicism is instead much more about disdain than despair. A cynic wouldn’t say that life is pointless but would just say that what people claim about life is pointless.
A cynic can even enjoy life. In particular, a cynic can take pleasure in mocking those who claim that altruism exists, or that politicians are self-sacrificing public servants, and especially finds laughable the idea that we should try to see the good in people.
Pessimists are not nihilists because pessimists embrace rather than evade despair. Cynics are not nihilists because cynics embrace rather than evade mendacity. A key part of evading despair is the willingness to believe, to believe that people can be good, that goodness is rewarded, and that such rewards can exist even if we do not experience them.
But to a cynic such a willingness to believe is a willingness to be naive, to be gullible, and to be manipulated. The cynic mocks such beliefs not because the cynic claims to know that such beliefs are necessarily false, but because the cynic is aware of the danger represented by people who claim to know that such beliefs are necessarily true.
A skeptic waits for evidence before passing judgment. A cynic, however, does not trust evidence because the cynic does not trust that anyone is capable of providing evidence objectively. A skeptic waits for evidence before passing judgment. A cynic, however, does not trust evidence because the cynic does not trust that anyone is capable of providing evidence objectively.
The cynic would prefer to remain dubious than risk being duped, and thus the cynic sees those who do take such risks as dupes. For this reason the cynic is able to reveal the nihilism of others by challenging people to defend their lack of cynicism, much like how the pessimist reveals the nihilism of others by challenging people to defend their lack of pessimism.
Perhaps the best example of the revelatory abilities of a cynic is the argument between Thrasymachus and Socrates in the opening book of Plato’s “Republic.” Thrasymachus is first introduced as mocking Socrates for questioning others about the definition of justice and then demands that he be paid in order to tell them what justice truly is.
Once appeased, Thrasymachus defines justice as a trick invented by the strong in order to take advantage of the weak, as a way for the strong to seize power by manipulating society into believing that obedience is justice. Thrasymachus further argues that whenever possible people do what is unjust, except when they are too afraid of being caught and punished, and thus Thrasymachus concludes that injustice is better than justice.
When Socrates attempts to refute this definition by likening political leaders to doctors, to those who have power but use it to help others rather than to help themselves, Thrasymachus does not accept the refutation like the others do, but instead refutes Socrates’s refutation. Thrasymachus accuses Socrates of being naive and argues that Socrates is like a sheep who thinks the shepherd who protects and feeds the sheep does so because the shepherd is good rather than realizing that the shepherd is fattening them for the slaughter,
Socrates is never able to truly convince Thrasymachus that his definition of justice is wrong, and indeed Thrasymachus’s cynicism is so compelling that Socrates spends the rest of the “Republic” trying to prove that justice is better than injustice by trying to refute the apparent success of unjust people by making metaphysical claims about the effects of injustice on the soul.
- Socrates is thus only able to counter cynicism in the visible world through faith in the existence of an invisible world, an invisible world that he argues is more real than the visible world.
- In other words, it is Thrasymachus’s cynicism that forces Socrates to reveal his nihilism.
- Here we can see that nihilism is actually much more closely related to idealism than to cynicism.
The cynic presents himself or herself as a realist, as someone who cares about actions, not intentions, who focuses on what people do rather than on what people hope to achieve, who remembers the failed promises of the past in order to avoid being swept up in the not-yet-failed promises about the future.
- The idealist, however, rejects cynicism as hopelessly negative.
- By focusing on intentions, on hopes, and on the future, the idealist is able to provide a positive vision to oppose the negativity of the cynic.
- But in rejecting cynicism, does the idealist also reject reality? Nihilism is actually much more closely related to idealism than to cynicism.
The idealist, as we saw with Socrates, is not able to challenge the cynic’s view of reality and instead is forced to construct an alternate reality, a reality of ideas. These ideas may form a coherent logical story about reality, but that in no way guarantees that the ideas are anything more than just a story.
- As the idealist focuses more and more on how reality ought to be, the idealist becomes less and less concerned with how reality is,
- The utopian views of the idealist may be more compelling than the dystopian views of the cynic, but dystopian views are at least focused on this world, whereas utopian views are, by definition, focused on a world that does not exist,
It is for this reason that to use other-worldly idealism to refute this-worldly cynicism is to engage in nihilism.
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What is cynicism vs Stoicism?
Wisdom The relationship between Stoicism and Cynicism, two of the older schools of philosophy, is a complicated one that has evolved over hundreds of years. In fact, Stoicism descends directly from Cynicism and both of which descend from Socrates, As Juvenal would say in his Satires, the Stoics “differ from the Cynics only by a tunic.” And it should go without saying that the definition of both terms have been brutally mangled by the passage of time—Stoicism doesn’t mean “emotionless” just as the Cynics weren’t “snarky and negative.” The philosophy of Cynicism, as a way of life and thinking was founded by Diogenes of Sinope circa 380 BC, and like Stoicism later on, emphasized the value in living virtuously and in agreeance with nature.
- Both schools believed human reason is considered capable of determining what the will of nature is, however they came to different conclusions about what is natural.
- The Cynics had a much more basic view of what is natural and therefore lived ascetically.
- Unlike Cynicism, Stoicism sees many human constructs like laws and customs as natural and encourages obeying them as part of living naturally.
A Cynic is the opposite, he does not obey anything that he does not consider good or natural. The spirit of Cynicism is best illustrated by its founder, Diogenes, who is one of the most fascinating characters in all of philosophy. Diogenes lived in a tub and owned nearly nothing.
- He had no respect for social norms and thought humans should live in the simplest way possible and disdained much of what “civilization” supposedly offers us.
- He’d say that “humans have complicated every simple gift of the gods.” If you have ever heard the famous story of a philosopher who had the audacity to tell Alexander the Great to move out of his way because he was blocking his sun? Yes, that was Diogenes.
And the philosopher who purposefully broke one of his only possessions—a cup—after seeing a child drink water with his hands (“Fool that I am, to have been carrying superfluous baggage all this time!”)? Diogenes again. He took his beliefs seriously to the point of public indecency.
He would eat in the marketplace (nobody was supposed to), spit or urinate on people who were rude to him, masturbate in public, and defecate in inappropriate places. When asked about his public masturbation, he would quip that “If only it were as easy to banish hunger by rubbing my belly.” It may be surprising that such a person is called a philosopher, but his intention was to raise a point about the need for social norms.
Humans are animals and lived for a very long time without most of the social norms we take for granted. Diogenes believed that civilization and all its rules had made life worse and all the artificial pleasures it offered take away from our enjoyment and full experiencing of life.
Diogenes was also the teacher of Crates of Thebes, who in turn was the teacher of Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism, Zeno taught that morality mattered above all else, like the Cynics, but also accepted that some “indifferents” were preferable and okay to pursue. If they were important to self-preservation, and this includes health and reproduction to some extent, Stoicism did not advise against seeking them.
Another Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, believed that Diogenes was a divine messenger. He was influenced by Cynicism to understand just how little people needed and that happiness could exist independently of possessions and social status. Epictetus thought that because the people who have power and money were often unhappy and Cynics were happy with very little, the sources of happiness must not be what people tend to think they are.
Epictetus said this of Diogenes: “And how is it possible that a man who has nothing, who is naked, houseless, without a hearth, squalid, without a slave, without a city, can pass a life that flows easily? See, God has sent you a man to show you that it is possible.” As the Stoic scholar Massimo Pigliucci would explain, Epictetus’s description of the Cynic lifestyle is “remarkably close to the sort of things the author tells his students throughout the Discourses, but talking as a Stoic.” Diogenes also appears in the writings of another prominent Stoic philosopher, Seneca, who would say this about Diogenes as an example of someone with true self-sufficiency and real wealth: “Diogenes acted in such a way that he could not be robbed of anything, for he freed himself from everything that is fortuitous.
It appears to me as if he had said: ‘Concern yourself with your own business, Oh Fate, for there is nothing in Diogenes that belongs to you anymore.'” Similarly, he’d point out the reaction of Diogenes upon learning that his slave had run away: “But the only slave Diogenes had ran away from him once, and, when he was pointed out to him, he did not think it worthwhile to fetch him back.
- It would be a shame,” he said, “if Diogenes is not able to live without Manes, when Manes is able to live without Diogenes.” But he seems to me to have cried: “Fortune, mind your own business; Diogenes has now nothing of yours.
- My slave has run away – nay, it is I that have got away free!” But what is important to note is that the Stoics value society highly and believe that to be virtuous one must participate in public life.
After all, Stoicism is a practical philosophy, one made for everyday use. The rules for interactions between father and son, man and wife, strangers in public, etc. are important to follow. The Stoics believe humans are meant to live in societies and meant to treat each other with respect.
A Stoic wouldn’t break the law or make a scene to prove a point, the way Cynics often did. To do so would be unvirtuous for a Stoic, partly because one can claim very reasonably that nature intended for men to be civilized (because we usually already are). Stoicism is a philosophy that teaches us to accept what is out of our control, including the behavior of others.
While the Cynics may want to break society out of their social norms, Stoicism would counsel us to accept social norms and not take on the impossible task of changing everyone to a different way of life. Cynics withdrew from politics and the chase for wealth that characterizes many people’s lives.
Like the Stoics, Cynics believed that too many desires cause problems, but they took it a step further. Cynics didn’t even see the point of having personal possessions, because we can’t keep them when we die, and they cause us stress when we try to get more of them or prevent ourselves from losing them.
This anxiety prevents us from fully enjoying life. This is how Epictetus explained the Cynic’s role: “It is his duty then to be able to say with a loud voice like blind people you are wandering up and down: you are going by another road, and have left the true road: you seek for prosperity and happiness where they are not, and if another shows you where they are, you do not believe him.
- Why do you seek it without?” The word ‘without’ in this context means in external things, which is where most people seek happiness, as opposed to how a good Cynic or Stoic gets their happiness from within.
- The solution of the Stoics for avoiding anxiety and excessive desire was to train one’s mind to perceive things in a more rational manner.
Anxiety can be relieved by accepting that a negative outcome might happen, and that this is out of our control. Marcus Aurelius once said, “Today I escaped anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions — not outside.” Some of the most critical aspects of Stoicism can be summed up by a quote from Epictetus: “Practice, therefore, to say frankly to every harsh appearance: ‘You are just an appearance, and not at all what you appear to be’.
- Next, examine it and test it by the measures you have, first and chiefly whether it concerns the things that are within our control or the things that are not within our control.
- And if it concerns the things that are not within our control, be prepared to say: ‘it is nothing to me’.” As you can see, the key to Stoic practice is the mind.
There is no need to live in poverty to avoid the fear of losing money, because a Stoic can accept losing money, whereas most people would be distraught. Stoicism has the same to say about most good appearances as well, classifying them as “indifferents”.
If one can train their mind to not view wealth or status as particularly pleasant, there won’t be the unbalanced striving towards these things. Thus, a skillful Stoic does not need to withdraw from political life or the business world because they will not fall into the traps that most people do, the traps which cause them to be stressed out and unhappy.
There was no overt recommendation to an ascetic lifestyle, but when Zeno claimed that the sole good in life is virtue, following his teachings ruled out the enjoyment of many luxuries, which are often gotten immorally or sought after so enthusiastically that they detract from virtue.
- However, Zeno was his own philosopher, and did not continue the Cynic tradition of advising that one live in poverty to best agree with nature’s will for us.
- Seneca added: There is this difference between ourselves and the other school: our ideal wise man feels his troubles, but overcomes them; their wise man does not even feel them.
Ultimately, Cynicism was an anti-society philosophy and was not one that everyone—or even a significant fraction of people—could follow if society was to properly function. In Cynic times, there was a problem with people dressing like Cynics and performing indecent acts, using the philosophy to disguise their malicious intentions.
- This is why Cynicism fell way to Stoicism as it is disruptive to society and not everyone can live the way Cynics do.
- Cynicism is a philosophy for outsiders, whereas Stoicism can be used by anyone to live a more rational and virtuous life.
- This explains the very different fates of Stoicism and Cynicism.
Stoicism went on to be an influential Roman philosophy that was popular until 300 AD and is making a major resurgence in today’s world. Cynicism was replaced by Stoicism for the most part and is now a philosophy that is rarely practiced by people who know of its origins.
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What is Diogenes philosophy?
Philosophy – Along with Antisthenes and Crates of Thebes, Diogenes is considered one of the founders of Cynicism, The ideas of Diogenes, like those of most other Cynics, must be arrived at indirectly. No writings of Diogenes survive even though he is reported to have authored over ten books, a volume of letters and seven tragedies.
- Cynic ideas are inseparable from Cynic practice; therefore what we know about Diogenes is contained in anecdotes concerning his life and sayings attributed to him in a number of scattered classical sources.
- Many anecdotes of Diogenes refer to his dog-like behavior, and his praise of a dog’s virtues.
- It is not known whether Diogenes was insulted with the epithet “doggish” and made a virtue of it, or whether he first took up the dog theme himself.
When asked why he was called a dog he replied, “I fawn on those who give me anything, I yelp at those who refuse, and I set my teeth in rascals.” The term “cynic” itself derives from the Greek word κυνικός, kynikos, “dog-like” and that from κύων, kyôn, ” dog ” ( genitive : kynos ). There are four reasons why the Cynics are so named. First because of the indifference of their way of life, for they make a cult of indifference and, like dogs, eat and make love in public, go barefoot, and sleep in tubs and at crossroads. The second reason is that the dog is a shameless animal, and they make a cult of shamelessness, not as being beneath modesty, but as superior to it.
- The third reason is that the dog is a good guard, and they guard the tenets of their philosophy.
- The fourth reason is that the dog is a discriminating animal which can distinguish between its friends and enemies.
- So do they recognize as friends those who are suited to philosophy, and receive them kindly, while those unfitted they drive away, like dogs, by barking at them.
Diogenes believed human beings live artificially and hypocritically and would do well to study the dog. Besides performing natural body functions in public with ease, a dog will eat anything, and make no fuss about where to sleep. Dogs live in the present without anxiety, and have no use for the pretensions of abstract philosophy.
In addition to these virtues, dogs are thought to know instinctively who is friend and who is foe. Unlike human beings who either dupe others or are duped, dogs will give an honest bark at the truth. Diogenes stated that “other dogs bite their enemies, I bite my friends to save them.” Diogenes maintained that all the artificial growths of society were incompatible with happiness and that morality implies a return to the simplicity of nature.
So great was his austerity and simplicity that the Stoics would later claim him to be a wise man or “sophos”. In his words, “Humans have complicated every simple gift of the gods.” Although Socrates had previously identified himself as belonging to the world, rather than a city, Diogenes is credited with the first known use of the word ” cosmopolitan “.
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What did Stoicism teach?
Philosophical system – Philosophy does not promise to secure anything external for man, otherwise it would be admitting something that lies beyond its proper subject-matter. For as the material of the carpenter is wood, and that of statuary bronze, so the subject-matter of the art of living is each person’s own life.
- Epictetus, Discourses 1.15.2, Robin Hard revised translation The Stoics provided a unified account of the world, constructed from ideals of logic, monistic physics, and naturalistic ethics.
- Of these, they emphasized ethics as the main focus of human knowledge, though their logical theories were of more interest for later philosophers.
Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions ; the philosophy holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to understand the universal reason ( logos ). Stoicism’s primary aspect involves improving the individual’s ethical and moral well-being: ” Virtue consists in a will that is in agreement with Nature”.
This principle also applies to the realm of interpersonal relationships; “to be free from anger, envy, and jealousy”, and to accept even slaves as “equals of other men, because all men alike are products of nature”. The Stoic ethic espouses a deterministic perspective; in regard to those who lack Stoic virtue, Cleanthes once opined that the wicked man is “like a dog tied to a cart, and compelled to go wherever it goes”.
A Stoic of virtue, by contrast, would amend his will to suit the world and remain, in the words of Epictetus, “sick and yet happy, in peril and yet happy, dying and yet happy, in exile and happy, in disgrace and happy”, thus positing a “completely autonomous” individual will and at the same time a universe that is “a rigidly deterministic single whole”. Chrysippus, the third leader of the Stoic school, wrote over 300 books on logic. His works were lost, but an outline of his logical system can be reconstructed from fragments and testimony.
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Does Epicurus believe in God?
The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270BC) also thought that natural evil challenges our belief in God. He reasoned: If God knows about our suffering (all-knowing), cares about our suffering (all-loving), and can do something about our suffering (all-powerful), then there shouldn’t be any suffering! But hang on.
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Who is the most famous Stoic?
Profiles This article provides a short overview of the main leaders of Stoic philosophy. If you are new to Stoicism, we invite you to sign up for our free 7-day course, which offers an introduction, Stoic exercises, interviews, a free book chapter from the cult Stoic bestseller The Obstacle is the Way and much more! *** The ancient Stoic philosophers came from almost every imaginable background.
- One was a slave, another was emperor.
- One was a water carrier, another a famous playwright.
- Some were merchants, others were independently wealthy.
- Some were Senators and others were soldiers.
- What they all had in common was the philosophy that they practiced.
- Whether they were chafing under the shackles of slavery or leading the Roman army, they focused not on the external world but on what was solely in their own control: Their own thoughts, their own actions, their beliefs.
Below are some short biographies of some of the most influential stoics, including Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus, Cato, Zeno, Cleanthes, Hecato, Musonius Rufus. It’s important to remember that these are only the Stoics whose names survive to us—for every one of them there are dozens or hundreds of other brilliant, brave minds whose legacy is lost to us.
*** MARCUS AURELIUS Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, born nearly two millennia ago is perhaps the best known Stoic leader in history. He was born in a prominent family but nobody at the time would have predicted that he would one day be Emperor of the Empire. Little is known of his childhood but he was a serious young man who enjoyed wrestling, boxing and hunting.
Around his teenage years, the reigning emperor, Hadrian, childless and nearing death, picked his successor of choice, Antoninus. He was a senator who was also childless and was required to adopt Marcus, as per Hadrian’s condition. Antoninus eventually died in 161 and it is when Marcus’s reign began.
- Marcus ruled for nearly two decades until 180, and his reign was far from easy: wars with the Parthian Empire, the barbarian tribes menacing the Empire on the northern border, the rise of Christianity as well as the plague that left numerous dead.
- It is important to realize the gravity of that position and the magnitude of power that Marcus possessed.
He held the most powerful position in the world at the time. If he chose to, nothing would be off limits. He could indulge and succumb to temptations, there was nobody that could restrain him from any of his wishes. There is a reason the adage that power in absolute absolutely corrupts has been a cliche throughout history.
And yet, as the essayist Matthew Arnold remarked, Marcus proved himself worthy of the position he was in. As the famous historian Edward Gibbon wrote, under Marcus, the last of the ‘Five Good Emperors,’ “the Roman Empire was governed by absolute power, under the guidance of wisdom and virtue”. The guidance of wisdom and virtue.
That’s what separates Marcus from the majority of past and present world leaders. Just think of the diary that he left behind, which is now known as his Meditations : It is essentially the private thoughts of the most powerful man in the world, admonishing himself on how to be more virtuous, more just, more immune to temptation, wiser.
- It is the definitive text on self-discipline, personal ethics, humility, self-actualization and strength.
- If you read only one book this year, make it Meditations,
- To read more on Marcus Aurelius, read our full profile on him, which also contains Stoic exercises from him, suggested readings and much more! To keep Marcus Aurelius’s wisdom front and center in your life, consider our limited edition print which features his timeless maxim which he wrote to himself: “Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be.
Be one.” Also, our popular memento mori medallion features a quote from Marcus Aurelius on the back: “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” SENECA THE YOUNGER The second most prominent Stoic in history is Seneca who was born in southern Spain over 2,000 years ago and educated in Rome.
- He was the son of Seneca the Elder, a well regarded Roman writer as well as later in his life uncle to the poet Lucan.
- Seneca pursued a career in politics and became a high-ranking financial clerk.
- His life took a sharp turn in 41 A.D.
- Once Claudius became the emperor as he exiled Seneca to the island of Corsica on the premises of supposed adultery with the emperor’s niece.
During his exile, he wrote a letter to his mother consoling her during his exile. Eight years later, in another twist, Agrippina, mother of future emperor Nero and wife of Claudius secured permission for Seneca to return and for him to become her son’s tutor and adviser.
Nero later became one of the most notorious and tyrannical emperors in the history of the Roman Empire raising even more questions about Seneca’s character. Yet Seneca’s death, in 65 A.D., came by the orders of Nero himself (who thought Seneca was part of a plot against him). Throughout all those turbulent periods Stoicism remained a constant in his life.
Seneca’s exposure to the philosophy came from Attalus, a Stoic philosopher who was Seneca’s early teacher. Seneca was also an admirer of Cato, whose name appears regularly in his writing. After his death Seneca was an influence on notable figures such as Erasmus, Francis Bacon, Pascal, Montaigne down to modern days.
Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic are a required reading for men and women of action offering timeless philosophical advice on grief, on wealth, on power, on religion, and on life are always there when you need them. They include timeless advice like: “Believe me it is better to understand the balance-sheet of one’s own life than of the corn trade.” “We are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.” “Think your way through difficulties: harsh conditions can be softened, restricted ones can be widened, and heavy ones can weigh less on those who know how to bear them.” To read more on Seneca, read our full profile on him, which also contains Stoic exercises from him, suggested readings and much more! EPICTETUS What makes Stoicism fascinating to study is that three of its most well-known practitioners ranged widely in terms of where they stood in society.
Think of the two Stoics we just studied. Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of the Roman Empire holding one of the most powerful positions in the world. Seneca was an adviser to an emperor, renowned playwright and one of the richest people in the Roman Empire.
And then there is Epictetus, on the complete opposite, who was born as a slave. That’s what makes Stoicism so powerful: it can provide timeless principles to help us in both good and bad fortune, no matter our station our life. Epictetus was born nearly 2,000 years ago in Hierapolis (present-day Pamukkale in Turkey) as a slave in a wealthy household.
Epaphroditus, his owner, gave him the permission to pursue liberal studies and it is how Epictetus discovered philosophy through the Stoic Musonius Rufus who became his teacher and mentor. Later, Epictetus obtained his freedom shortly after emperor Nero’s death and started teaching philosophy in Rome for nearly 25 years.
This lasted until emperor Domitian famously banished all philosophers in Rome. Epictetus fled to Nicopolis in Greece where he founded a philosophy school and taught there until his death. Epictetus has coined some of the most memorable Stoic quotes : “To make the best of what is in our power, and take the rest as it occurs.” “Let death and exile, and all other things which appear terrible, be daily before your eyes, but death chiefly; and you will never entertain any abject thought, nor too eagerly covet anything.” He was a key influence to Marcus Aurelius and to many other powerful men and women over the last two millennia.
What is fascinating is that this influence came by pure luck. Epictetus never actually wrote anything down. It is through his student Arrian that we have a written account of his lessons. And if everyone from Emperors to war heros have been grateful as they found guidance, solace and strength in Epictetus’ lessons, then there must be something for us.
- But only if we choose to.
- To read more on Epictetus, read our full profile on him, which also contains Stoic exercises from him, suggested readings and much more! CATO THE YOUNGER Cato is the fourth Stoic we look at, and one who has always been considered as one of the people who truly lived the Stoic values, each and every day.
Although he never wrote anything, his actions speak loudly about what it means to live the philosophical life. In his own day, he was a soldier and an aristocrat, a senator and a Stoic. The last in a family line of prominent statesmen, Cato spent a lifetime in the public eye as the standard-bearer of Rome’s optimates, traditionalists who saw themselves as the defenders of Rome’s ancient constitution, the preservers of the centuries-old system of government that propelled Rome’s growth from muddy city to mighty empire.
History remembers Cato as Julius Caesar’s most formidable, infuriating enemy—at times the leader of the opposition, at times an opposition party unto himself, but always Caesar’s equal in eloquence, in conviction, and in force of character, a man equally capable of a full-volume dawn-to-dusk speech before Rome’s Senate and of a 30-day trek through North Africa’s sands, on foot.
For George Washington and the entire revolutionary generation, Cato was Liberty—the last man standing when Rome’s Republic fell. For centuries of philosophers and theologians, Cato was the Good Suicide—the most principled, most persuasive exception to the rule against self-slaughter.
- George Washington and his peers studied Cato’s life in the form of the most popular play of that era: Cato: A Tragedy in Five Acts, by Joseph Addison.
- The great men of the day quoted this play about Cato in public statements and in private correspondence.
- When Benjamin Franklin opened his private diary, he was greeted with lines from the play that he had chosen as a motto.
John and Abigail Adams quoted Cato to one another in their love letters. When Patrick Henry dared King George to give him liberty or death, he was cribbing from Cato. When Nathan Hale regretted that he had only one life to give for his country—seconds before the British army hanged him for high treason—he was poaching words straight from Cato.
- We leave you with one lesson from Cato.
- Criticized for his silence, he would say, “I begin to speak only when I’m certain what I’ll say isn’t better left unsaid.” Think of this lesson today as you impulsively seek to add your opinion or thoughts to every and any matter in your life.
- To read more on Cato, read our full profile on him, which also contains Stoic exercises from him, suggested readings and much more! ZENO OF CITIUM Of all the Stoics, Zeno has one of the most fascinating stories of discovering philosophy.
On a voyage between Phoenicia and Peiraeus, his ship sank along with its cargo. He ended up in Athens, and while visiting a bookstore he was introduced to the philosophy of Socrates and, later, an Athenian philosopher named Crates. These influences drastically changed the course of his life, leading him to develop the thinking and principles that we now know as Stoicism.
- According to the ancient biographer Diogenes Laertius, Zeno joked, “Now that I’ve suffered shipwreck, I’m on a good journey,” or according to another account, “You’ve done well, Fortune, driving me thus to philosophy,” he reportedly said.
- Zeno began his teaching at the Stoa Poikile which was located at the Ancient Agora of Athens.
This is the famous porch that Stoicism was named after that you probably remember briefly mentioned in your high school or college philosophy class. But the name wasn’t always that—in fact, initially his disciples were called Zenonians but only later they came to be known as Stoics.
- Of course, Stoicism has developed since Zeno first outlined the philosophy but at the core of it, the message is the same.
- As he put it, “Happiness is a good flow of life.” How is it to be achieved? Peace of mind that comes from living a life of virtue in accordance with reason and nature.
- To read more on Zeno, read our full profile on him, which also contains Stoic exercises from him, suggested readings and much more! CLEANTHES Cleanthes was the successor to Zeno and second head of the Stoic school.
Born in Assos, he arrived in Athens and began attending lectures by Zeno. To support his philosophical studies and his pursuit of wisdom during the day, he would work as a water-carrier (his nickname was the Well-Water-Collector, Φρεάντλης in Greek) which prompted a court summoning.
- How could a man spend his entire day studying philosophy, the court wondered.
- Proving his hard work and industry during the night, he was let go (the court was so impressed that they even offered him money but Zeno made him refuse).
- But we need to step back.
- Who was this industrious philosopher? Cleanthes of Assos (c.330 BC – c.230 BC) was originally a boxer who arrived in Athens.
According to Diogenes Laërtius, Cleanthes arrived with only four drachma in his pockets and began attending Crates the Cynic’s lectures and only later he started showing up at Zeno ‘s. He later became his successor as the head of the Stoic school—a post he held for an impressive period of 32 years—and Cleanthes’s pupil, Chrysippus, later became one of the most important Stoic thinkers.
Reading about Cleanthes one finds a curious lesson relayed by Diogenes Laërtius: “When someone inquired of him what lesson he ought to give his son, Cleanthes in reply quoted words from the Electra: Silence, silence, light be thy step.” And as a Stoic he also held that living according to nature is living virtuously.
To read more on Cleanthes, read our full profile on him, which also contains Stoic exercises from him, suggested readings and much more! HECATO OF RHODES One philosopher consistently keeps coming up again and again in Seneca ‘s writings. Although Cato, Epicurus and many other prominent philosophers are mentioned, it is probably Hecato who has earned himself the most quotations in Seneca’s work.
A few examples that Seneca has used: “Cease to hope, and you will cease to fear. ” “What progress, you ask, have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself.” “I can show you a philtre, compounded without drugs, herbs, or any witch’s incantation: ‘If you want to be loved, love.'” While Hecato was a prolific writer in his time—we know of several treatises of his name, including “On Goods,” “On Virtues,” “On Passions,” “On Ends,” “On Paradoxes,” “Maxims.”—none of these have survived.
GAIUS MUSONIUS RUFUS You can see above how Epictetus was a key influence to Marcus Aurelius, but who was the mentor behind Epictetus’s philosophy? It was Gaius Musonius Rufus, who was born around 30 AD in Volsinii, Etruria. He became a prominent Stoicism teacher in Rome until the reigning Emperor at the time, Nero, discovered a conspiracy plotting against him and banished Musonius to the desolate island of Gyaros in the Aegean Sea—similar to the exile of Seneca, and the difficulties of Epictetus ‘s life.
- Musonius eventually returned to Rome under Galba in 68 but only to be exiled again, this time by Vespasian.
- While Vespasian initially banished all philosophers in 71, Musonius himself was exiled in 75, which speaks to how highly esteemed his reputation was in Rome at the time.
- He would return to Rome only after Vespasian’s death and live there until his own end.
For Musonius, philosophy was concerned with practical matters how to live one’s life. It was about virtue and goodness—nothing else mattered. We can rise above pain and pleasure, death and evil. Without a doubt, Musonius was one of the most practical philosophers.
As professor William O. Stephens, one of the Stoic professors we have interviewed, described Musonius’ philosophy and approach in this way: “the philosopher does not study virtue just as theoretical knowledge. Rather, Musonius insists that practice is more important than theory, as practice more effectively leads us to action than theory.
He held that though everyone is naturally disposed to live without error and has the capacity to be virtuous, someone who has not actually learned the skill of virtuous living cannot be expected to live without error any more than someone who is not a trained doctor, musician, scholar, helmsman, or athlete could be expected to practice those skills without error.” It would be the Greek scholar Origen who’d point out, more than a century after Musonius’ death, that “as an example of the best life,” we have him and Socrates.
It is why Musonius is often referred to as “the Roman Socrates.” And just like with Socrates, we’d all be better off to keep in mind Musonius character as a role model in life. One example: After being exiled several times he’d exclaim, “How could exile be an obstacle to a person’s own cultivation, or to attaining virtue when no one has ever been cut off from learning or practicing what is needed by exile?” To learn more and follow Musonius Rufus’ example of living a good life, order his Lectures and Sayings translated by Cynthia King.
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What is Stoic vs nihilism?
Stoicism and Existentialism are becoming popular topics, and people are looking to embrace the teachings of famous philosophers like Aristotle, Emperor Marcus Aurelius, or Jean-Paul Sartre. Understanding Stoicism vs Existentialism is important in your understanding of life as they are two of the most prominent philosophies in today’s society. Stoicism Philosophy wasn’t simply knowledge but a way of life for the Stoics. To them, Stoicism is a practice, and as you learn more about the world, a complete personal transformation is to follow. Today, people turn to Stoicism as a therapeutic activity, and some see it as a psychological discipline.
- It’s an appealing philosophy to adopt.
- It emphasizes an individual’s worth, community, and its foundation of compassion and benevolence is a positive sentiment that’s easy to support.
- It highlights the benefits of living life without excess.
- Becoming a stoic requires an understanding of emotions and how you respond to external stimuli.
The best way to do this is to watch your own reactions and responses when faced with a situation that you would typically respond emotionally to. After this, you can determine if your reaction was healthy or unhealthy. Stoicism has a couple of fundamental ideas, one is that the meaning of a meaningful life, a life worth living is a life of practicing virtue.
Practical wisdom, which is the ability to navigate complex situations in the best possible way.Courage, which is not just physical courage it doesn’t have to do with taekwondo or kickboxing, but it has to do with moral courage, the courage to stand up for situations and for people.Then temperance, the ability to exercise self-control, not to go into excesses of sorts.And then finally justice which is understood as treating other people with fairness, the way in which you would like to be treated.
So for a Stoic, if you practice sincerely the four virtues, that is in and of itself, is both necessary and sufficient, to make your life worth living, now the word that is often used is happy, which of course is a bad translation of the Greek term eudemonia, obviously it’s pretty obvious that you wouldn’t necessarily be happy because you could be virtuous, but also poor, and sick and so on and so forth, so you wouldn’t be happy in the normal sense of the term, but your life would be worth living according to the Stoics.
And in fact your life will be even more worth living than the life of let’s say very healthy and very wealthy person who however does wicked things, who doesn’t practice virtue, takes advantage of other people and so on and so forth. So what that means is that a Stoic tries to go through life by internalizing his or her goals, so my goal is not going to be to get a promotion, because that’s outside of my control, but its rather going to be to do the best job that I can, in order to put my force in myself for it in the best possible way to be competitive for a promotion, whether I get it or not is not up to me, but I am happy because I’ve done the best that I could.
Or in the case of a relationship you know, my goal cannot be to be loved by my partner, my goal has to be, to be a lovable person, because that’s the thing that is really under my control, whether it turns out that in fact, that particular other person is going to love me or not, that is not up to me and so on and so forth.
Stoicism was a school of philosophy that was popular in Hellenistic Greece and was popularized (so to speak) by Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. Followers of stoicism understood that one individual cannot change the course of life and the universe. That the world is full of chaos and misery and horrific events and just plain bad luck.
That you must always be mentally prepared to face all of these things, rather than build yourself up higher and higher with hope and false optimism only to fall far further down when you face disappointment. Existentialism Existentialism is in its infancy compared to Stoicism. After emerging in the 20th century, existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre described the philosophy. It was later adopted by other prominent writers and philosophers such as Simone de Beauvoir and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.
- Existence, according to existentialists, is entirely subjective.
- Your experience is uniquely different from anyone else’s.
- There is no universal truth in existentialism, and it explores the meaning of life.
- And its primary concern explores what it means for people to be free.
- Existentialists know they are in a world that relates to other people, limiting their opportunity to choose a path.
Still, they argue that people need to make choices for their individuality. Even when negative things happen to us, we’re free to interpret them however we’d like. Arguably, existentialism deals with the more pessimistic side of the human condition. It explores the experiences of anxiety, death, and nihilism.
They argue that science can’t explain or understand people. An existentialist focuses on the authenticity of the individual and the necessity of authenticity in self-identity. Today, existentialism is fundamental to academic philosophy because it is very fluid. It flows off into many branches as time passes and culture shifts.
Existentialism is a lot less systematic than that and it’s much harder to define because it’s not an official school, more like stoicism is, but it’s more of a descriptive term for a group of philosophers who talked about similar themes; of freedom, choice, responsibility, anxiety and authenticity.
So they were reacting to the Enlightenment, when everything was about objectivity and scientific facts. And they said well what about the passionate, subjective experience? What about like concrete living? Rather than just abstract armchair theorizing. So existentialism became particularly popular during World War two, because it acknowledged that human existence is horrifying and it’s absurd.
And they emphasized personal choice, so some of the key themes are that; we’re thrown into the world, you know we don’t choose how or where we arrive, but once we’re here we need to choose how to live. Also one of the most famous maxims of existentialism is that existence precedes essence, so we exist first and then we’re free to define who we are through the choices we make, so we’re nothing to begin with, but we are what we make of ourselves, so for the existentialists, every action is a choice, we always have choices and as such, Sartre says “there’s no exit from our freedom, we’re condemned to be free.” And so for the existentialists we’re responsible for who we are, however Simone de Beauvoir for example, also emphasized that situations put limitations on our freedom, for example; poverty, ignorance and oppression limit those kinds of choices that we can make, so we have a responsibility to choose our lives, but also to strive for authenticity, which is about choosing what we think is genuine and right for ourselves.
It means that yes certainly we can admit external influences, that as long as we know that, recognize that it’s our choice and our responsibility in the end. And we can deny that we have choices, but that’s what the existentialist would have called bad faith, and so, but also the existentialists suggested that it can be really scary to realize that we can’t blame everything on biology or circumstance and so that’s why the existentialist say that we are plagued with anxiety.
So one of the key questions is that if we’re free as Dostoyevsky put it, if god is dead is everything permitted? Well the existentialists would say no, but that’s where existentialism starts. You know there’s nothing to depend on, we arrived in the world, we don’t have a guidebook, life is ours to make sense of and it’s up to us to choose its value.
- But it’s an, existentialism is often portrayed as a very individualistic philosophy, but they also acknowledge that we are born into webs of relationships, if we value freedom for ourselves then we value it for other people too.
- And they acknowledge that when we make a choice, we’re affirming that it’s a valuable thing to do, so we think it would be good if everyone did as we did, so if you marry, you’re affirming the value of marriage, or the value of the institution of marriage and through our choices we create the kind of world that we want to live in.
Existentialism believes that individuals are entirely free and must take personal responsibility for themselves (although with this responsibility comes angst). It therefore emphasizes action, freedom and decision as fundamental, and holds that the only way to rise above the essentially absurd condition of humanity (which is characterized by suffering and inevitable death) is by exercising our personal freedom and choice. What is similar? Both Stoicism and existentialism are a part of Western philosophy. Stoicism is older and has been a part of philosophical discussion since the ancient Greeks and Romans. Existentialism is far more recent and was a cultural movement in the 1940s and 1950s.
- Sharing the idea of meaningless Both of these philosophies are similar in that they promote the idea that life is meaningless.
- Stoics and existentialists agree that meaning in life does not come from the outside; it is constructed by you as a moral agent.
- However, they come to the conclusion on how to make sense of this meaninglessness very differently.
Stoicism encourages people to follow their instincts and use logic as a tool for self-analysis, while nihilism encourages individuals to make their own decisions. Practical rather than theoretical philosophies – philosophy as a way of living Both philosophies are growing in popularity due to current events because they are applicable in the modern era.
- People are realizing the importance of making their own decisions based on their own values, while they try to make sense of their own emotions.
- Both are philosophies that offer a way to live instead of just a way to think about the world Stop complaining – change your perception and attitude Stoicism is having us acknowledge the separateness between things and our immediate perceptions of things, which enables us to rethink our perception if we choose to have one at all.
It’s like when Marcus Aurelius refers to sex as just a little friction between people and wine as just moldy grapes. We can begin to see that the things in themselves are not that important to get upset about. If we’re too fond of externals, then bring it back to their factual descriptions to remind ourselves how trivial they are.
- Sartre, an existentialist, writes about overcoming externals in a way that sounds a lot like the Stoic reminder that there’s another perspective we can take when we’re upset since others aren’t upset about the same thing: “What is an obstacle for me may not be so for another.
- There is no obstacle in an absolute sense, but the obstacle reveals its coefficient of adversity across freely invented and freely acquired techniques.
The obstacle reveals this coefficient also in terms of the value of the end posited by freedom. The rock will not be an obstacle if I wish at any cost to arrive at the top of the mountain. On the other hand, it will discourage me if I have freely fixed limits to my desire of making the projected climb.It is senseless to think of complaining since nothing foreign has decided what we feel, what we live, or what we are.What happens to me happens through me.” Things are problems for us when we, by free choice, have specific expectations.
The thing isn’t the real problem, then, it’s the expectation that needs to shift. The roles we play For the Stoics, defining yourself as one is avoided because it’s pretentious. In The Role Ethics of Epictetus, it’s clarified that we are simultaneously different things, and how we play each role is more important than what our roles are.
The roles are often not our choice, but how we do them are, i.e. whether or not we’re a virtuous son, mother, teacher, or waiter. Existentialists share the same view by saying that we can’t be defined by the roles we take on because we’re more than the mere facts about ourselves, so labels become meaningless.
Free choice / Control Both the Stoics and Existentialists take a pretty flattering view of our psychical abilities: the Stoics believe we can develop total control over our attitudes and perceptions towards the world, and the Existentialists believe every act is a choice we freely make regardless the intensity of the situation.
If our master is breaking our leg and there’s nothing, we can do to stop it. The Stoics’ focus isn’t choice or freedom, but they exercise extreme resilience to whatever’s not within their control. Perhaps the focus on self-improvement rather than fixing the world is because the world isn’t in our control.
Similar to this Kierkegaard sounded a lot like a stoic when he said that “a person’s unhappiness never lies in his lack of control over external conditions, since this would only make him completely unhappy.” According to him you shouldn’t be putting your happiness or you know the meaningfulness of your life into the external circumstances because external circumstances can change on a dime.
Sartre also said, is “you’re never so free as when you’re in chains” and what matters is how you view the situation. Also there is a quote from Epictetus, “a podium in a prison is each a place, one high and the other low, but in either place, your freedom of choice can be maintained if you so wish.” The existentialist focus on responsibility and choice is similar to the Stoic reminder to only focus on what you can control.
- The call for authenticity echoes many of the Stoic virtues such as courage and wisdom.
- Stoicism is primarily about the distinction between that which we control (our attitude(s) and our actions(s)) and that which we don’t (basically, everything else), whilst encouraging one to reflect on the four stoic virtues (wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance) and work towards living one’s life in accordance with them.
Existentialism, meanwhile, encourages one to face life head on and let go of the notion that there are any predetermined values around which one’s life ought to be led: how we lead our lives is entirely up to us. Both, therefore, are alike in that they have a stated belief that most of life is outside of our control (in existentialist thinking this is best captured by Heidegger’s concept of thrownness), but that we do have a say in what we then do with our lot in life. What are the differences? Main difference The main difference is that the Stoics believed that no matter what you are dealt in life, you must be mentally prepared to face it as all things, negative or positive, are a part of human existence. However, the Existentialists believed that everything that we are or create for ourselves is a choice, so we can change it at any moment by ourselves and we don’t have to be resilient but proactive to change the situation or perception.
Historical circumstances They existed in completely different circumstances, both in general human history and as far as the history of philosophical movements are concerned. The situation had become so different by the time we have reached Existentialism that their attitude towards philosophers before them had changed quite a bit.
Existentialism vs Stoicism on the Meaning of Life Both Existentialists and the Stoics purport to provide answers to the meaning of life. Whatever that answer is, both agree that wealth, fame, career, power, graduate degrees, and other ‘externals’ have no value.
They disagree, however, with respect to the reasons for externals’ non-value. And the reasons for non-value differ because the existential and the Stoics fundamentally interpret questions about the meaning of life differently. For existentialists the question principally concerns life’s significance. What makes life significant? Creating value and meaning.
Life and the world we are thrust into are normatively barren; they contain no ready-made meanings or values. As luck would have it, human beings have the capacity to create both meaning and value through deliberate choice and action. The meaning of life and everything in it is the meaning you construct for it—the meaning you choose for it.
And so, the answer to the meaning of life is for each individual to introspect and to create their own meaning and values through choice and action. Importantly, meaning and value are inherently subjective since they unfold from the private consciousness of each. Hence, externals have no value unless we choose to impart it upon them in how we structure them into our life projects.
The Stoics understand the question as asking how we can live well. The Stoic answer: By joyfully accepting of the world as it is. Contemplating the meaning of life is understood as assessing what sorts of things reliably achieve this Stoic aim. Unlike with existentialism, both the goal and path—virtuous living—are objective: they apply to everyone.
- The Stoics observed that the world is full of unhappy people with wealth, successful careers, fame, and graduate degrees, etcExternals have no value because of their merely contingent causal relation to cheerful acceptance.
- Worse still, since the causes of externals’ presence or absence ultimately lie outside of the causal power of our will, incorporating them into our life projects risks not only failure but necessarily undermines joyful living: If you insist on pursuing externals “of necessity you must be envious, jealous, and suspicious of those who can take away those things and plot against those who have that which is valued by you.” Externals have no value because they reliably undermine the meaning of life; i.e., joyfully accepting the world as it is.
The problem of evil Another major difference between these two philosophies is how they react to the problem of evil. Stoicism deals with the problem of evil by claiming that most problems aren’t worth worrying about because most problems can’t be solved.
- Instead, they focus on what’s in their control.
- Existentialists believe in “radical acceptance”, which deals with the problem of pain by a person accepting a reality that is outside of their control.
- Existentialists will usually respond that they believe suffering is unavoidable, which is true of any living organism.
However, they do not believe suffering is meaningful. Systematic Existentialism is often defined as an approach that rejects systemic philosophies, while Stoicism is probably the paramount example of a systematic philosophy. Existentialism is fiercely individual.
- It is up to the individual to decide meaning/value in life.
- The Stoics believe that there were fundamental truths to the universe (both secular and not) and were concerned about finding them.
- So, they would debate and try to build consensus when possible.
- Stoics, to a degree, would probably find Existentialist egotistical as they only cared about their little world/mind rather than the reality around them.
Stoicism and philosophy of that era were also trying to figure out the science of the universe and as such were trying to discover human nature. As such, one big value they had was a duty to society as they assumed that humans were inherently social creatures (which science has shown to be overwhelmingly true).
- They tried their best, like modern evolutionary psychologists, to try and understand human nature and do their best to maximize it and/or work around its shortcomings.
- Existentialists tend to put more faith into their minds and free will as above/more in control of their nature and reality, as they can self-determine what they will about the universe.
They tend to think of society in more nihilistic terms, as completely arbitrary. Stoics would think there is an order to how the world turns out. Death These philosophies have very different attitudes towards death. The Stoics are very accepting that death is inevitable.
- Eeping death at the forefront helps us to live better and happier lives.
- Awareness of our mortality can help us appreciate all the good that life has to offer, and help us remember to make use of every moment (therefore Memento mori).
- Alternatively, Sartre, an existentialist says we can’t prepare for death, and he doesn’t see death as a positive event in any light.
Death means that we’re no longer free to develop ourselves and that the Other, the people who watched us, is free to make a final assessment of us without us there to amend or reject it. In the end, we’re not free to define ourselves. Absurdity Existentialism is based on the absurd and the nature of the human condition.
- That is, that life is meaningless, and that the individual, as a free and responsible person, must put meaning into his/her existence.
- Existence precedes essence.
- Stoicism does not refer to absurdity, rather it seeks a form of personal objectivity; a distancing from life’s vicissitudes in order to maintain psychic balance in the face of all that life can offer whilst acting a role in society.
It had its origins with Zeno of Citium whose teaching referred to someone who is unemotional, indifferent to pain, pleasure, grief and joy. Such terms as patience, forbearance, resignation, fortitude or endurance also come to mind when reflecting on stoicism.
Values Stoics have four virtues to be contemplated and practiced regularly: prudence (wisdom to know right), fortitude (courage to do the right thing), temperance (moderation and self-control in action), and justice (caring and fairness with others). The meaningful life is the life that practices these virtues, and these are practiced while recognizing what is and isn’t under our control: Pigliucci says, “focus on where your agency can be effective” such as our values, judgements, decisions, and behaviors.
For instance, the goal is not to be loved by someone specific (which is out of our control), but to be a lovable (i.e. good) person (MP). When we have preferences that are out of our control, such as good health, reputation, possessions, etc., we should take an attitude of indifference toward them, of detachment.
- They’re our preferred indifferent.
- It’s nice if we have them, and it’s fine to make efforts to influence them, like through healthy eating or locks on the doors, but it’s foolish to expect them or to get upset if they’re lost.
- The goal is mastering our own attitudes towards things so we see them correctly, so we recognize that, for instance, it’s not a specific event that’s upsetting us, but merely our perception of the event, and, according to the Stoics, our perception is always within our control.
By contrast, Existentialist values are much more subjectively determined. The only virtue comes with being awake enough to recognize our freedom to choose our own path and making authentic choices such that each act is what we’d want everyone to do. But each person is free to make different choices that are viewed as equally virtuous provided they’re the person’s own authentic choice.
Passion Both philosophies see passions as a problem, but, again, in different ways. Stoics view passions (negative emotions like anger, greed, envy) and any lack of moderation as distractions that need to be restrained to avoid toppling our pursuit of virtue Existentialists see passion as an excuse for bad behavior.
Sartre says, “The existentialist does not believe in the power of passion. He will never agree that a sweeping passion is a ravaging torrent which fatally leads a man to certain acts and is therefore an excuse. He thinks that man is responsible for his passion.
Seneca says that it’s okay to indulge in pleasures so long as the pleasure doesn’t control us. We should just never trade pleasure for virtue. This gets to an earlier point here that the philosophies have enough variation within the original doctrines that we have the opportunity to take what works for us.
Regardless the “true” limits of Stoic temperance, Nietzsche would have it the other way around entirely – that order is fine, so long as it doesn’t get in the way of the passions. Again, it’s sort of the same thing, but different. Both have the effect of provoking us to rise above our passions, but the Stoic idea imparts the sense that an angry response is something trying to suck us away from my more reasonable faculties.
Psychotherapy Stoicism is easily seen in CBT and REBT, which all start with the premise that when we’re upset it’s because of our perception of things, not the things in themselves, and we often have an irrational view. Through reality testing and viewing the situation in a detached way we can be less emotionally affected by anxiety around events.
It’s been very effective in reducing anxiety levels in a good 70-80% of patients. Existential psychoanalysis took a different path: Instead of looking at individual daily triggers, existentialists look at that big one: We search for meaning and purpose in life, but the reality has to be faced – that there simply isn’t any. Being a Stoic or an Existentialist? Whether Stoicism or existentialism draws you in, there is no right or wrong way to adopt philosophy into your everyday life. Stoicism is rooted in logic and reason and advances the idea that there is a need for non-attachment in life events.
They argue that everything is perception; you can choose your reality based on your reactions. Similarly, there is a narrative of non-attachment in existentialism. However, they believe in genuine autonomy and argue that people should be able to react to events in their life however they choose. Followers of Stoicism believe that you should participate in society and be an active participant in your community.
There is a greater good, and they argue that it’s more important to put that greater good first. To the Stoics, everyone connects, so it’s important to take care of everyone. The existentialists take the view that personal freedom is more important. Your identity and authenticity are within your control, so you should cater to them.
They live by the idea that people are separate from each other but exist in the same world. Final Thoughts Stoicism isn’t about not caring or being numb to what’s going on around you, but it’s in accepting the things – even negative things – that come your way and rationally processing them. Stoicism is a lot more accessible.
Thousands of years’ worth of literature tell us what Stoicism is and the philosophy behind it. While existentialism borrows some ideas from Stoicism, it’s more complicated and intricate. It’s transformed so much, and people define it in different ways, so it’s challenging to determine what makes existentialism.
- Scholars, academics, or educated people accept existentialism more, but it rarely encompasses existentialism.
- On the other hand, Stoicism not only explains its philosophy but also explains why it matters and what it can do for those who practice it.
- According to the existentialist, there is no ideal way to live, and there is only freedom to choose.
Whereas with the Stoics, logic and reason are central to how to live your life.
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How is Daoism different from Stoicism?
What’s the difference between Taoism and stoic philosophy? Stoics practice virtue. In fact, their mission in life was to be as virtuous as possible. Tao doesn’t teach, nor does it label things as ‘virtuous,’ good, bad, evil.
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Why do Stoics reject hedonism?
NB : This is a draft. I’ll add more detail over time and in response to comments. Hellenistic schools of philosophy were often distinguished from each other in terms of their definition of the supreme good. The Stoics defined the goal of life as the attainment of wisdom and virtue.
They frequently contrasted this with the common notion that pleasure ( hedone ) is the most important thing in life. Indeed, Chrysippus wrote one book entitled Proofs that Pleasure is not the End-in-chief of Action and another on Proofs that Pleasure is not a Good, i.e., pleasure is not intrinsically good at all let alone the supreme goal of life.
Hedonistic philosophies of life can actually take different forms.
The naive assumption that pleasure, and avoidance of pain, is the most important thing in life, which is commonly taken for granted by non-philosophers. The Cyrenaic philosophy, founded in the early 4th century BC, which proposed an ethical system based on the premise that the goal of life is to experience bodily pleasure in the present moment. The Epicurean philosophy, founded in the late 4th century BC, which developed a more subtle ethical system, also claiming that pleasure is the goal of life, but distinguishing between different types of pleasure and placing most value on the absence of emotional suffering ( ataraxia),
However, the writings of Epicurus and his followers are notoriously ambiguous in this regard and different people tend to interpret his meaning in different ways. Cicero, for example, insists that Epicureanism endorses the pursuit both of ataraxia and of bodily pleasures of the Cyrenaic kind, citing Epicurus’ own writings in support of this interpretation.
The Stoics mainly focused their criticisms on naive hedonism, which they believed was a common vice. However, they also frequently attacked the more philosophical doctrines of their rivals, the Epicurean school. You can read detailed accounts of the various Stoic criticisms of Epicureanism in Seneca, Epictetus, and Cicero’s De Finibus,
This article will explore the basic criticisms of hedonism found in the Stoic literature. The Stoics typically attacked hedonism using the Socratic method, by exposing contradictions in their opponent’s position through questioning. For example, there are often apparent conflicts between the claim that pleasure is the goal of life and some of their actions, or other moral assumptions held by them.
Socrates was the original source for criticisms of hedonism found in the Cynic-Stoic tradition. His student Antisthenes reputedly said that pleasure is bad, and that he would rather go insane than experience pleasure. However, the Stoics adopted a more moderate position, arguing that pain and pleasure are neither good nor bad, but indifferent, with regard to the good life.
It’s important to bear in mind, therefore, that unlike Antisthenes, the Stoics were not saying that pleasure is bad. However, they did believe that hedonism, the assumption that “pleasure is (intrinsically) good”, was a vice, and the basis of an irrational passion.
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What is a hedonist in bed?
Main content – Article Preview : Abstract Hedonism, as compared to the sexual values of relativism and absolutism, involves sexual behavior based on the pursuit of pleasure without the requirement for love and/or commitment. Analysis of responses to a 37 item Internet questionnaire completed by 391 undergraduate women revealed that thirty-one percent self-identified as being hedonistic (40% had hooked up). When compared to absolutist and relativistic women, hedonistic women were significantly (p <,000) less likely to require a committed relationship as a context for sex, less likely to be in a reciprocal love relationship and less likely to feel guilty/feel regret following a hookup encounter. Hedonistic women were also more likely to feel more comfortable making the first move in a relationship than absolutist and relativistic women. The primary mechanisms of stigma management by these hedonistic women were to believe in gender equality and to avoid discussing their sexual behavior with others who might disapprove. Symbolic interaction is used to interpret the data. Implications and limitations of the study are identified. Singer/celebrity Miley Cyrus has become the poster girl for hedonistic female sexuality. From her AMA dance to her "Wrecking Ball" video and personal interviews (where she talks of masturbation/Ben Wa balls), Cyras has a libido on the loose. Reactions have been from "you go girl" to slut-shaming. What is clear is that female sexuality and its control, remain an issue and the double standard remains evident. Eighteen percent of 6660 undergraduate females compared to 30% of 1,149 undergraduate males self identified as being a sexual hedonist (defined as sex for pleasure without the requirement of a meaningful relationship context) (Hall and Knox 2015). While previous research has focused on male sexuality with 12% of 200 undergraduate males identifying their sexual values as "recreational" (Olmstead et al., 2013), the current study focused on factors associated with female sexual hedonism and the strategies they employ to avoid the accompanying stigma (e.g. being labeled slut, whore, trollop). Background Men are more likely than women to report higher numbers of casual sex partners (Danube, 2014). Previous research has focused on hedonistic men and the double standard which insulates them from public derision. The concept promotes the idea that sexual behavior results in praise and respect for men but shame and degradation for women. Acceptance of the double standard is evident in the words used to describe hedonism- hedonistic men are thought of as "studs" but hedonistic women as "sluts." Indeed, Porter (2014) emphasized the double standard in her presentation on "slut-shaming" which she defined as "the act of making one feel guilty or inferior for engaging in certain sexual behaviors that violate traditional dichotomous gender roles." She pointed out that Charlie Sheen was a national celebrity for his flagrant debauchery but Kristen Stewart was shamed for her infidelity. Porter surveyed 240 undergraduates and found that 81% of the females reported having been slut-shamed (in contrast to 7.3% of the males). A theme of the current study emphasizes that the sexual double standard reinforces men for their sexual hedonism. Get Full Access Gale offers a variety of resources for education, lifelong learning, and academic research. Log in through your library to get access to full content and features! Access through your library Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2016 Project Innovation Austin LLC View complete answer
What is altruism vs hedonism?
Altruism vs Hedonism – As altruism is self-sacrificing help for others, hedonism is the pursuit of self-indulgence (Brown, 2020). The Greek philosopher Epicurus defined hedonism as living a life of pleasure while also erasing bodily and mental pains (Cialdini & Kenrick, 1976). Hedonism can be split into different classifications:
Normative Hedonism, This is the idea that pleasure should be everyone’s primary motivation. Motivational Hedonism. This idea argues that people only make choices due to the motivation of either pain or pleasure. Egotistical Hedonism, Similar to what we talked about earlier, this is the idea that someone only considers their own pleasure in making decisions. Altruistic hedonism, This theory states that pleasure-seeking behavior is justified if it also helps other people.
In general, altruism is viewed as more virtuous when compared to hedonism. Altruism is closely tied with the concepts of kindness and social conscience while hedonism is stereotypically related to greed. When we try to be more altruistic, it’s important to keep in mind to try not to adopt traits related to hedonism.
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What utilitarianism means?
Utilitarianism – Ethics Unwrapped Ethics Defined UT Star Icon Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that asserts that right and wrong are best determined by focusing on outcomes of actions and choices. Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that determines right from wrong by focusing on outcomes.
It is a form of consequentialism. Utilitarianism holds that the most ethical choice is the one that will produce the greatest good for the greatest number. It is the only moral framework that can be used to justify military force or war. It is also the most common approach to moral reasoning used in business because of the way in which it accounts for costs and benefits.
However, because we cannot predict the future, it’s difficult to know with certainty whether the consequences of our actions will be good or bad. This is one of the limitations of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism also has trouble accounting for values such as justice and individual rights.
For example, assume a hospital has four people whose lives depend upon receiving organ transplants: a heart, lungs, a kidney, and a liver. If a healthy person wanders into the hospital, his organs could be harvested to save four lives at the expense of one life. This would arguably produce the greatest good for the greatest number.
But few would consider it an acceptable course of action, let alone the most ethical one. So, although utilitarianism is arguably the most reason-based approach to determining right and wrong, it has obvious limitations. : Utilitarianism – Ethics Unwrapped
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What was the natural philosophy of Epicurus?
His philosophy was that of a happy life based on the search for simple natural pleasures. One devoid of the help of religions, god, politics, consumerism, wealth, power, or fame. Epicurus argued that any man can acquire and maintain bodily health and peace of mind by using only his own natural powers.
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What is Epictetus philosophy?
Primarily interested in ethics, Epictetus described philosophy as learning ‘how it is possible to employ desire and aversion without hindrance.’ True education, he believed, consists in recognizing that there is only one thing that belongs to an individual fully—his will, or purpose.
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What is an example of Epicurus philosophy?
Pleasure and Pain – Epicurus identified two types of pleasure, moving and static, and described two areas of pleasure and pain: physical and mental. Moving pleasure refers to actively being in the process of satisfying a desire. An example of this could be eating food when you feel hungry.
- In those moments we are taking action toward our intended goal of pleasure.
- The other type of pleasure, static pleasure, refers to the experience we have once our desire is met.
- To use the example of eating food when we are hungry, the static pleasure would be what we are feeling once we have eaten.
- The satisfaction of feeling full, and no longer being in need (hungry), would be a static pleasure.
Epicureanism suggests that static pleasures are the preferred form of pleasure. Physical pleasures and pains, he suggested, had to do with the present. Mental pleasures and pains had to do with the past and future. Examples of this could include positive memories of past events or experiences that bring us feelings of joy or pleasure or, conversely, unpleasant memories of our past that bring us pain.
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What is Epicurus best known for?
Epicurus, (born 341 bc, Samos, Greece—died 270, Athens), Greek philosopher, author of an ethical philosophy of simple pleasure, friendship, and retirement. He founded schools of philosophy that survived directly from the 4th century bc until the 4th century ad,
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