Stoicism is a philosophical school that appeared in Greece about 3 centuries B.C. It was founded by Zeno and named after the place in which it was practiced, STOA. STOA, was a public area where natives would go to discuss matters of life.
This philosophy is considered a moral philosophy, because it talks about human conduct, which encourages us to question what we do, and why we do the things we do.
It reappeared in Rome during the transition period from republic to empire. At the time Rome had become a wealthy promiscuous city, after years of expansion and conquests, the citizens became obsessed with their own hedonistic and personal desires.
The politicians became corrupt (not that they aren’t now), and the citizens became morally impoverished. Therefore, stoicism rose as an antidote to social decadence.
Does this scenario seem familiar to you as well?
Do you feel that western society is experiencing the same pattern?
If you answered yes, you wouldn’t be wrong, that’s why learning about Stoicism, will definitely help you deal with the modern world.
This school is based mostly on three principles from which it derives many more. These principles are the main branches of the tree, from which the rest of the branches stem.
The universe is ruled by a law that is just and fair
Cosmos is the organization of chaos. For Stoics there is a law that organizes the universe and everything in it. If we deduce that the universe is ordered chaos, and that order cannot exist in or sustain the universe without justice or fairness, then this would mean that the universe has to be ruled by a law that is just and fair.
Everything that happens has its origins in the law
This principle divides the circumstances into ones we control and others we don’t. What we can’t control happens because it is meant to, which according to the law, is for our own growth and benefit.
Even if it doesn’t seem just in the moment, ultimately it serves a grand purpose that our limited minds may not perceive.
Therefore this philosophy demands acceptance of fate, a kind of positive acceptance, which means accepting things that you cannot change, yet constantly striving to change the things you can.
We shall live in accordance with nature
Human nature is characterized by reason, that’s what makes us different from other animals. Reason is not about thinking, it’s about questioning and understanding life.
This in turn brings a sense of freedom from suffering – which is the main stoic goal that allows us to live a happy life.
Stoicism teaches us that we are our own worst enemies. We judge ourselves harshly, and that ends up disturbing our inner balance.
Thankfully there are resources inside each one of us, they help us face any challenge life may present. If we believe that the universe is just, because order cannot come from injustice and we use our reason to determine what we can and cannot control, then we can begin to think like the great stoics.
All in all, stoicism teach us that we’re not our thoughts and emotions, we are the reason which decides how we deal with them. Therefore the more reasonable we are, the less we are shaken by the slings and arrows of misfortune, and the freer we become.