Today I discuss about Stoicism, Greek philosophy & the 4 Cardinal Virtues as moral framework, as well as the importance of love.
Historians can’t agree on where this classification originated. It appears to go back as far as Plato or Socrates, although some argue that they can be traced back to about the 12th-8th centuries B.C., to Homer’s epic poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey...
-phronêsis (Practical Wisdom - knowing good from bad)
-dikaiosunê (Justice, fairness, and kindness in our relations with others.)
-andreia (Wise courage and endurance in response to our pain and anxiety.)
-sôphrosunê (Temperance - Wise self-discipline in response to our desires.)
It's important to understand that the ancient Stoics would not have recognised the modern distinction between religious thought and scientific inquiry.
While there were religious aspects to its practice, ancient Stoicism was a philosophy not a religion. There was no religious-based leadership hierarchy nor an appointed authority, place of worship, or sacred books.
However, there were various heads of Stoic schools whose ideas followers could openly question or reject on the basis of reasoned argument without fear of being labelled an apostate, even when contesting aspects of Stoic theology.
This is because the Stoic God, as the very essence of Nature, was envisioned and arrived at through a naturalistic and rational framework that formed the basis of Stoic virtue ethics and provided practitioners with the rationale to study the natural world and the wider cosmos, including the celestial bodies (which were often referred to as gods).
This is in effect what the eclectic, but Stoic influenced, Cicero explains in On Ends:
"Nor can anyone judge truly of things good and evil,
save by a knowledge of the whole plan of nature and
even of the life of the gods."
The nature of the Stoic God will certainly conflict with the fundamental aspects of religious traditions, especially those associated with “miracles” and other supernatural events, states or beings, including heaven, hell, demons, or angels.
The ancient Stoic understanding of the universe, including God, is entirely grounded in natural phenomena that can be scientifically explored. As such, the Stoic God has a clear philosophical basis, which necessarily must be arrived at and defended via rational argument, not faith or dogma. This is clear from the Chrysippean “proofs” for the Stoic God, which are based on reasoned argument about the nature of the universe as understood by Stoics. One such argument is as follows:
"If the gods do not exist, nothing in the universe can be superior to humans, the only beings endowed with reason. But for any human being to believe that nothing is superior to his or herself is a sign of insane arrogance. There is then something superior to humankind. Therefore, the gods exist."
The ancient Stoics recognised, through their theology and not in spite of it, that the best possible life a human can be expected to have relies on thinking and acting in accordance with Nature and by the facts Nature provides. In no way does it depend on or imagine divine revelations from a supernatural being that harbours desires for you to join “him” in an afterlife. For example reflecting on Seneca’s On Providence, 2.4, we can see that:
"Death, disease, and natural disasters are not punishments from an angry God; they are simply the natural unfolding of events within a web of causes, often outside of our control."
Stoics accept that the cosmos is as it should be and they face challenging events as opportunities for growth rather than considering them harmful. This is neither resignation nor retreat from the realities of human existence. Stoics strive to do all we can to save lives, cure disease, and understand and mitigate natural and man-made disasters.
Consequently, Stoic reverence for Nature is deeply connected to Stoic theology, which makes it clear that the Earth’s natural system, as the giver and sustainer of life (words typically used to describe a god), is worthy of care and consideration. That said, philosophically speaking, although there are some similarities, the Stoic God is not analogous to Spinoza’s God, the deep ecology spirituality envisioned by Arne Naess, or James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis (see Whiting and Konstantakos).
Stoicism is not a call to faith, not even a call to faith in science. Rather, it is a commitment to the observations and empirical evidence we require to seek harmony with the universe and within our inner self.
Watch today's video to find out more...