Do you approve of the Stoic philosophy presented in the discourses of Epictetus, the meditations of Marcus Aurelius and the writings of Lucius Annaeus Seneca?

How do you reconcile the Stoic idea of relinquishing all attempts to control external events with the need for protection of one's self interests? Wouldn't strict adherence to such a philosophy turn one into an easy target for social and emotional abuse?

Do you accept the ideas of the Stoics as applicable for living in today's times? Do you reject any of their ideas? What is your view and your criticism of them?

And if Stoicism cannot be accepted fully, what is a philosophy that may provide reconciliation of the existential chaos with order?

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    Homework or survey ? In both cases, it is not the best approach to this site. Nov 14, 2017 at 11:42
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA Neither, but an earnest curiosity. I feared that the formal tone of the question would invite the kind of response you gave. Nov 14, 2017 at 11:56
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    Modern philosopher Martha Nussbaum has defended a neo-Stoic account of emotions. See also An interview with Martha Nussbaum on Neo-Stoicism as well as Nussbaum's books: The Therapy of Desire and Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions. Nov 14, 2017 at 12:18
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA Thank you for the reference. Mired in facts even though, and too intellectual for my untrained peasant mind, I will course through the material. I am inclined to something bare of knowledge but rich with both wisdom and aesthetic beauty of prose. Therapy entices at the moment. I'll see where it leads me. Meanwhile, something humbler, though not in a pedestrian prose, will be immediately helpful. Also, would you please be able to summarize her (the author's) stance in an answer? Nov 14, 2017 at 12:46
  • You may be able to get around the hold on this question by asking more specifically whether stoicism has relevance in the current-day philosophical environment.
    – DTR
    Nov 15, 2017 at 7:20

2 Answers 2


Stoics have a way of life but I would not call it a philosophy. It is an ethical scheme without a metaphysical basis and in its modern form has no answers for philosophical questions. It's ethical scheme corresponds to that of Buddhism, which also claims the unity of the universe, and while I would endorse Stoic ethics and feel it is good way to live it is inadequately justified and I'd expect a truth-seeker to be more attracted to a comprehensive philosophy. It's a good belief system for someone who wants to think they're living well but doesn't want to face any threatening philosophical ideas.

My criticism would be that Stoicism is redundant and inadequate. It offers us no understanding of philosophy, no more than a speculative and undemonstrable basis for ethics and has no interest in establishing truth. It's a pale shadow of the perennial philosophy. It used to be consistent with the perennial view but in modern hands its lack of a metaphysical foundation has allowed it to be freely warped and distorted to accommodate various disparate metaphysical ideas.

Ethics is a personal choice so each to their own, but modern Stoicism is not a way forward for philosophy. It has almost nothing to say about it.

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    "I would not call it a philosophy" ? Stoicism was one of the new philosophical movements of the Hellenistic period. Nov 14, 2017 at 11:59
  • @PeterJ Thank you for your thoughtful response. What philosophy would you recommend one study if one were to answer to himself the question, "How do I deal with evil, intentional or not, and the ensuing chaos? How do I restore sanity and regain mental strength during an episode of chaos?" Nov 14, 2017 at 12:06
  • @Mauro ALLEGRANZA - It is possible to call it a philosophy, of course, but it has nothing to say about most of philosophy. I feel that in its original form it could easily be developed into a comprehensive philosophy by using the Unity of the Universe as an axiom but modern Stoics do not do this and regularly deny this Unity. leaving Stoicism as an ethical practice without a justification and without much to say on many issues. The only way to justify Stoic ethics would be to use the arguments made by the Buddhists so I feel it is best to just go straight there.
    – user20253
    Nov 14, 2017 at 14:19
  • @Water Cooler - I would suggest 'non-dualism' or the 'Perennial' philosophy. You might like the youtube videos of Rupert Spira as an introduction. For this view there would be no evil, just lots of chaos. Anything written for Westerners by the Dalai Lama will probably address your concerns. Stoicism would be half-way to this view ( I would say it is derived from it) a so if it attracts you you may get on with nondualism. The literature if vast so there's plenty to choose from. .
    – user20253
    Nov 14, 2017 at 14:29
  • Stoic philosophy stands among the greatest achievements of ancient Greece but it has been badly mangled by (1) dumb Romans (2) christian ideology (3) people with unhealty interest in morality. Stoic logic is both remarkable and different from Aristotle's termism, they are materialists, nomialists and determinists. (Frege owes much to stoic logic which he learned from R.Hirzel, his tenant).
    – sand1
    Nov 14, 2017 at 18:50

The impression of Epictetus is of a very unusual individual, and so of someone unfit to give general instruction. Yet, this is not so. The teaching also says that one should not expect the fanciful. So, if one is bent on insisting that anyone who rejects some attitude, equal outcome of all lives, for instance, is a wretch and a hopeless case, that one does not follow the teachings of Epictetus, who says, do not believe the wonders and sea changes awesome, even if told of a Chomsky! No, because all must be worked according to what is possible, not some fancy. Otherwise it must be looked at directly, and born in pain and equanimity. This teaching, however, presupposes there is a Agathos of embracing dearness.

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