Essay on Stoicism

This essay has a total of 1347 words and 5 pages.


In the tree of Ethics, there are many twigs and branches that all trace back to a single
root: how a person ought to act. Now, the paths that some branches take to get to that
single root differ in many ways, yet all arrive at their own definition of how they
themselves should live. The ‘branch' that I will be talking about today, is Stoicism. I
will discuss the history and beginnings of Stoicism in the Hellenistic period, the basic
ideas of stoicism, and I will share my own personal beliefs and skeptical ideas as
concerned with Stoicism.

To begin, what does the word ‘stoic' mean? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines
‘stoic' as "one apparently or professedly indifferent to pleasure or pain." In the world
of Ethics, a stoic is defined as "a member of a school of philosophy founded by Zeno of
Citium about 300 B.C. holding that the wise man should be free from passion, unmoved by
joy or grief, and submissive to natural law." So what school of philosophy are we talking
about? Who is Zeno of Cittium? Why did the stoics behave as they did?

In the early part of the 4th century B.C. going on into the middle of the 3rd, a man named
Zeno of Cittium left his home of Cyprus and went to Athens. There, he began to teach small
groups of people about his ideas of ethics. He held his sessions on a painted porch on the
Athenian agora known as the Stoa Poikile, from which the terms stoic and Stoicism derive
from. At one point, Zeno, who had become adjusted to a life of riches, could not pay a
resident tax, and as a consequence, was sold into slavery, where he was bought by a friend
and freed.

At first glance, one could look at stoicism and dismiss it as a relatively easy way to
lead one's life. At the heart, stoics do not care about abstract reality, about how and
why the universe began, or Earth for that matter. To a stoic, the most important concept
is that of acceptance in human life.

Some of the ideas that Stoicism is based upon comes from the mind of one Heracletus. In
the 6th century B.C., Heracletus formed his ideas at his home in Ephesus. In his mind, the
universe is an ‘ever-living fire.' In description, Heracletus came up with the Flux and
the Logos. The Logos, in a universal sense, is a single connection between everything in
the world, but is always changing with the Flux. Back when philosophers classified
everything into 1 of the 4 elements, Heracletus' Logos was his idea of Fire, a fire with
all-consuming power, flickering and changing as concerned with the Flux. The universe, or
Logos, is one living thing that governs all, the world soul, and has the ability to
exercise Providence. The universe/Logos directs everything within it to lead towards what
is best as a whole, to have the best impact on the universe itself.

As such, the world soul, the Logos can see everything in space-time at once, unbound by
space/matter and time. If we say a person's life is a straight line of mountains, the way
the person views it is straight on, one mountain at a time, until they get to the end of
their ‘range' and thus ends their life. The way the Logos sees a person life would be
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