Tag Archives: History of Stoicism

Stoic Serenity 4.1: Universal Nature, God, & Fate

In the previous chapter, we discussed the Greek term phusis meaning “physical” or “nature.” We mentioned how the Stoic motto: “Live according to Nature” encompasses two meanings:

  • Live according to human nature.
  • Live according to the nature of the Universe.

We spent some time in the last chapter talking about human nature, how it relates to the (“preferred”) indifferents, and what the concept of “the Simple Life” has to do with all of it. Author Keith Seddon of Stoic Serenity says that simply put, to “live according to human nature” means to “live a life in which you pursue the preferred indifferents by undertaking your actions rationally and virtuously.”

In this new chapter, we will take a look at the Stoic motto in terms of living according to the nature of the Universe. Read more of this post

Stoic Serenity 3.2: The Cynics

Yesterday in Seneca’s Letter 5, Seneca desperately tried to get the point across to Lucilius that it’s not our outward appearances and actions that are important; we should focus on our motives. (Quick little comparison to Christianity; consider these two Bible verses in which Jesus is teaching):

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgement…”

“…You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

(Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28)

Jesus also taught about the importance of motives. Before Jesus, people concerned themselves with “following the rules” simply for the sake of “following the rules.” They didn’t understand what was behind it. Seneca is trying to make sure Lucilius doesn’t fall prey to the same type of lesser understanding. Read more of this post

Stoic Serenity 2.1: Epictetus

Epictetus (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Yesterday we tested and applied our knowledge of what we learned in Chapter 1 when we created an imaginary dialogue about dealing with misfortune. With Chapter 2, we move on to a very important theme in Stoicism: distinguishing between What is in our power and What is not in our power.

At this point, continue to keep a daily record of your activities and explain, in as much or as little detail as you prefer, what happened in your experience, detailing your thoughts and reactions. Identify the interests and projects in your activities, and distinguish between what you are doing from the way you are doing it.

This chapter has us investigating the distinction between interests and projects, and ourselves as agents who engage in projects. As we’ve discussed throughout, other than the 4 Virtues which lie within ourselves, most everything else is technically indifferent. Remember that for tomorrow.

We’ll now turn our attention to one of the late Stoic teachers Epictetus and eventually see what he has to say about the “nature of human agency and what is ‘in our power’ as agents who engage in projects.” Read more of this post

Stoic Serenity 1.1: Zeno of Citium

Zeno of Citium (courtesy of Wikipedia)

So my formal journey into Stoicism begins with a debriefing on the founding father himself: Zeno of Citium.

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