Stoicism, the third great philosophy of the Ancient World. It still has a huge amount to teach us, especially in these emotion-saturated times. What’s more, the Stoic legacy has shaped our world in more ways than you might expect.
Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions; the philosophy holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to understand the universal reason (logos). A primary aspect of Stoicism involves improving the individual’s ethical and moral well-being:
This principle also applies to the realm of interpersonal relationships; to be free from anger, envy, and jealousy, and to accept even slaves as equals of other men, because all men alike are products of nature.
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Stoicism. It was founded by Zeno in the fourth century BC and flourished in Greece and then in Rome. Its ideals of inner solitude, forbearance in adversity and the acceptance of fate won many brilliant adherents. It made it the dominant philosophy across the whole of the Ancient World. The ex-slave Epictetus said:
Seneca, the politician, declared that:
The stoic thoughts of Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher emperor, provided a rallying point for empire builders into the modern age. Stoicism influenced the Christian church. It had a big effect on Shakespeare and Renaissance drama. It may even have given the British their ‘stiff upper lip’. But it’s a philosophy that was almost forgotten in the 20th century. Does it still have a legacy for us today?
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