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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?
In some way Atticus's rational approach to life is similar to that of ancient philosophers, especially the Stoics: "The four cardinal virtues of the Stoic philosophy are wisdom, courage, justice and temperance....
Common belief characterizes a Stoic as lacking emotion.
The common opinion of Stoic adherents is that they are merely cold, somber individuals dedicated to the idea that happiness is evil, emotion is to be avoided at all costs and pleasure is wicked.
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?
Stoicism teaches that happiness can only be obtained through virtue.
One is tempted to think that this is simply a misuse of the word‘happiness’ (or would be, if the Stoics had been speakingEnglish). We are inclined to think (and a Greek talking abouteudaimonia would arguably be similarly inclined) thathappiness has something to do with getting what you want and notmerely ordering one's wants rationally regardless of whether they aresatisfied. People are also frequently tempted to assimilate theStoics' position to one (increasingly contested) interpretation ofKant's moral philosophy. On this reading, acting with the right motiveis the only thing that is good—but being good in this sense hasnothing whatsoever to do with happiness.
So far the emphasis has been on just one component of the Stoicformulation of the goal or end of life: it is the “rational selectionof the things according to nature.” The other thing that needs to bestressed is that it is rational selection—not theattainment of—these things which constitutes happiness. (TheStoics mark the distinction between the way we ought to opt for healthas opposed to virtue by saying that I select (eklegomai) thepreferred indifferent but I choose (hairoûmai) thevirtuous action.) Even though the things according to nature have akind of value (axia) which grounds the rationality ofpreferring them (other things being equal), this kind of value isstill not goodness. From the point of view of happiness, the thingsaccording to nature are still indifferent. What matters for ourhappiness is whether we select them rationally and, as it turns out,this means selecting them in accordance with the virtuous way ofregarding them (and virtuous action itself). Surely one motive forthis is the rejection of even the limited role that external goods andfortune play in Aristotelian ethics. According to the Peripatetics,the happy life is one in which one exercises one's moral andtheoretical virtues. But one can't exercise a moral virtue likeliberality (Nic. Eth. IV.1) without having some, evenconsiderable, money. The Stoics, by contrast, claim that so long as Iorder (and express) my preferences in accordance with my nature anduniversal nature, I will be virtuous and happy, even if I do notactually get the things I prefer. Though these things are typicallyappropriate to me, rational choice is even more appropriate or akin tome, and so long as I have that, then I have perfected my nature. Theperfection of one's rational nature is the condition of being virtuousand it is exercising this, and this alone, which is good. Sincepossession of that which is good is sufficient for happiness, virtuousagents are happy even if they do not attain the preferred indifferentsthey select.
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The killing of Caesar conflicted with his stoic values.
In contrast to the fragmentary evidence that we possess for thephilosophers of the Old and Middle Stoa, we have substantial writingsfrom a number of Roman Stoic philosophers. Two of them wrote in Greek, (circa 55–155 CE) and the Roman emperor (121-180 CE), while the third wrote in Latin, (4 BCE-65 CE). Other Roman Stoics whose works have not been so wellpreserved include Musonius Rufus (c. 25–90 CE) and Hierocles the Stoic(c. 150 CE – not to be confused with the 5th century Neoplatonist ofthe same name who wrote a commentary on the ps-Pythagorean‘Golden Verses’).
These were presented by Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics.
It was natural that an ambitious and well off Roman like Cicero(106–43 BCE) should go and study at the philosophical schools inAthens and return to popularise Greek philosophy for his lesscosmopolitan countrymen. Epicureanism tended to be favored in theranks in Rome's military, while Stoicism appealed more to members ofthe Senate and other political movers and shakers. Several Romanpolitical figures associated with Julius Caesar and the end of theRoman Republic had assorted philosophical connections. Thoseassociated with Stoicism include Cato the Younger (95–46 BCE) andMarcus Junius Brutus (85–42). Brutus' fellow assassin, andbrother-in-law Gaius Cassius Longinus (85-42) professedEpicureanism.(See Sedley 1997 for an examination of their actions inlight of their philosophical allegiances.) Posidonius was known toJulius Caesar's sometimes-ally, sometimes-adversary, Pompey(106–48). Pompey visited Posidonius in Rhodes during his campaigns in66 and 62 BCE. Gaius Octavius (who became Caesar Augustus) had a Stoictutor, Athenodoros Calvus.
Their hardships influence them to feel really depressed and stoic.
In 155 BCE Athens sent a delegation of three philosophers (Stoic,Academic skeptic, and Peripatetic) on an embassy to Rome. Theirteachings caused a sensation among the educated. The Skeptic Carneadesaddressed a crowd of thousands on one day and argued that justice wasa genuine good in its own right. The next day he argued against theproposition that it was in an agent's interest to be just in termsevery bit as convincing. This dazzling display of dialectical skill,together with the deep seated suspicion of philosophical culture,generated a conservative backlash against all Greek philosophers ledby Cato the Elder (234–149 BCE). By 86 BCE, however, Rome was readyto receive Greek philosophy with open arms.
First of all, Brutus is a stoic.
Our evidence for the views of the philosophers of the Middle Stoa isrelatively fragmentary. The testimonia for Antipater were included involume 3 of von Arnim (1903–05). For Panaetius, see van Staaten (1962)and for Posidonius, see Edelstein and Kidd (1972). Panaetius hovers inthe background of one of the most influential books in moralphilosophy up through the late 19th century: Cicero's OnDuties or De Officiis. In one of his letters to hisfriend Atticus (XVI. 11.4) Cicero says that he based the first twobooks of his work on Panaetius' treatise of the same name. It isperhaps on this basis that some interpreters have taken Middle Stoicmoral philosophy to be more “practical” than that of the Old Stoa,for On Duties concentrates on identifying proper functions ina context where it is clear we are not talking about the infallibleStoic sage. But Sedley (in Inwood, 2003) correctly points out that anywork on proper functions would have just such a focus. Our evidencemay constitute an unrepresentative sample of Panaetius' work in moralphilosophy.
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