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Sunday, December 19, 2004

Which School of Hellenistic Philosophy Do You Belong To?

You are a Stoic!
You are a Stoic.
Stoicism is a school of philosophy commonly
associated with such Greek philosophers as Zeno
of Citium, Cleanthes, or Chrysippus and with
such later Romans as Cicero, Seneca, Marcus
Aurelius, and Epictetus. Organized at Athens in
310 BC by Zeno of Citium and Chrysippus, the
Stoics provided a unified account of the world
that comprised formal logic, materialistic
physics, and naturalistic ethics. Later Roman
Stoics emphasized more exclusively the
development of recommendations for living in
harmony with a natural world over which one has
no direct control. Their group would meet upon
the porch of the market at Athens, the stoa
poecile. The name stoicism derives from the
Greek stoa, meaning porch.

The Stoic philosophy developed from that of the
Cynics whose founder, Antisthenes, had been a
disciple of Socrates. The Stoics emphasized
ethics as the main field of knowledge, but they
also developed theories of logic and natural
science to support their ethical doctrines.

Holding a somewhat materialistic conception of
nature they followed Heraclitus in believing
the primary substance to be fire. They also
embraced his concept of Logos which they
identified with the energy, law, reason, and
providence found throughout nature.

They held Logos to be the animating or 'active
principle' of all reality. The Logos was
conceived as a rational divine power that
orders and directs the universe; it was
identified with God, nature, and fate. Human
reason and the human soul were both considered
part of the divine Logos, and therefore

The foundation of Stoic ethics is the principle,
proclaimed earlier by the Cynics, that good
lies in the state of the soul itself, in wisdom
and restraint. Stoic ethics stressed the rule
"Follow where Reason leads"; one must
therefore strive to be free of the
passionslove, hate, fear, pain, and pleasure.

Living according to nature or reason, they held, is
living in conformity with the divine order of
the universe. The four cardinal virtues of the
Stoic philosophy are wisdom, courage, justice,
and temperance, a classification derived from
the teachings of Plato.

A distinctive feature of Stoicism is its
cosmopolitanism. All people are manifestations
of the one universal spirit and should,
according to the Stoics, live in brotherly love
and readily help one another. They held that
external differences such as rank and wealth
are of no importance in social relationships.
Thus, before the rise of Christianity, Stoics
recognized and advocated the brotherhood of
humanity and the natural equality of all human
beings. Stoicism became the most influential
school of the Greco-Roman world and produced a
number of remarkable writers and personalities.

Which Hellenistic School of Philosophy Would You Belong To?

Hat tip: Eric the Unread

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