Do the stoics really believe it makes no difference how someone else behaves or is that a vulgar and mistaken guess? It seems to matter very much, even if we give up on status etc..

  • 1
    Please give a reference if there is a stoic claim that behaviour has no ethical relevance. For information about stoicism see plato.stanford.edu/entries/stoicism/#Virt
    – Jo Wehler
    Commented Jan 13 at 9:05
  • 1
    As I understand it, the point is that one must act from what one can do, and so others behavior is no more a cause for emotion than the weather or having a difficult road to walk on. Conditions don't dictate your response, your reasoning does. I have a relevant library book here, surprisingly, so I'll write an Answer. Basically, the Stoic attitude is very much like a nondual attitude, but arrived at differently.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jan 13 at 13:23
  • hm maybe i'm misunderstanding agency @JoWehler
    – user70707
    Commented Jan 13 at 15:59
  • Why does vulgarity matter?
    – Corbin
    Commented Jan 13 at 17:00
  • Please specify more fully how you think it matters because we have two divergent answers. (It's not a problem, but I want to make sure your question is answered as you intended.)
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jan 13 at 22:49

2 Answers 2


The word 'stoic' is associated with being unmoved by external things. What is that about?

Epictetus wrote a "Handbook" which partially survives in other books. The 2020 updated version by Massimo Pigliucci called "A Field Guide to a Happy Life" is a rendering of it in to contemporary terms, adjusting out things like slavery, which had to be addressed at the time of the original but are distracting now.

From 'unit' 5 of these 52 parts (I typed this, errors are my own):

You are not disturbed by things in themselves, but by your judgments of things. Look around you and notice that people react very differently to the very same circumstances, which means they judge them differently. For some, losing a job is a catastrophe. For others, it is an opportunity to seek a new path forward. Most people shy away from pain, but some voluntarily expose themselves to it in pursuit of a higher goal, such as completing a marathon or passing a difficult exam.
Now here are three stages of wisdom: the unwise person blames other people for what are, in the end, her own judgments about things; the person who is making progress does not blame others, but only herself; the wise person does not blame even herself.

Sounds rather like the attitude of a non-dual person, but arrived at rationally and through continual practice. For Epictetus, the phrase "making progress" is really the only thing to focus on. Are you improving in your efforts towards equanimity and self-mastery?


Based on a keyword search "stoic influence on law" there are many references that credit the Stoic school in ancient Greece as the foundation of principles of Roman law and/or the ancient foundation for the modern concept of Natural Law. Sources state that Stoics held virtue in high regard. Actions in society which express wisdom, courage, justice, and autonomy (self-control) are the expressions of "stoic" virtue. Stoics, as advocates of virtue, ethics, morality, and law, cannot be indifferent to the behavior of others in the social context because these judgments apply to the dramatic meaning of behavior.


The Stoics believed that justice was an important part of living a virtuous life and that individuals had a moral obligation to treat others fairly and justly. This belief has influenced many cultures and societies throughout history, including the Roman Empire and modern Western democracies.

A stoic person might defend against pain or attenuate pain by becoming indifferent to pain caused by others in society or even efforts to transcend pain that cannot be eliminated by efforts of the self or others. However, no one can impose standards of virtuous, ethical, moral, or legal behavior while at the same time claiming to be indifferent to the dramatic meaning of patterns of prosocial or antisocial behavior.

You must log in to answer this question.