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The Fifth Stoa
In the past five years, there has been an astonishing increase in people who call themselves Stoics. The Stoicism Facebook group now has around 50,000 subscribers. There are organized Stoic groups in some 60 cities around the world.
In Stoicism, you accept whatever happens to you as a given. When outsiders see this, they often assume that Stoics are passive, inactive, and gutless.
Meredith, our contributing editor, was driving home with her then 6-year-old daughter from her swimming lessons. The daughter announced,
“I’m going to take up an extra gymnastic class.”
Is Stoicism a self-centered philosophy?
Does Stoicism really teach us to care for others except in so far as it is in our own interest to do so? Why should we care for the community? Here is one explanation:
Thursday, August 1st, 2019
How we do anything is how we do everything
In this issue there is an interesting article on Stoic walking by Donald Roberson.
Come again? “Stoic” walking? Is a Stoic supposed to walk differently?
Sunday, September 1st, 2019
Beyond the obvious: Seeing things differently
Insects in amber
When we look at our daily life, we see that we face an array of problems—financial, health, and our relationships.
Tuesday, October 1st, 2019
Sure we can talk the talk. Can we walk the walk?
I seldom call myself a Stoic. Although I have been helped by Stoic principles all my life (I first stumbled on to Stoicism in my teens), no one close to me—not even my family or friends—knew that I had anything to do with Stoicism. I never talked about it. When I wrote my first book on Stoicism, Unshakable Freedom, they all wanted to know how I had known about Stoicism.
Stoic principles can be used to solve our problems, big and small. But they can also be seen as a way of life, so it is always with us, warding off problems before they arise and offering us help if they still arise.
The concept of a "Stoic sage" in an intriguing one. According to Stoicism, only a Stoic sage is virtuous and happy. Yet none of us is a sage. Not just that, no one can ever be a sage. Since one is either virtuous or vicious, happy or unhappy, we are all vicious and unhappy. (There is no intermediate state between happiness and unhappiness, virtue and vice in Stoicism.)
I know, I know, it is not good form to be pleased with yourself. Even less so to announce it to others. But today I am pleased with myself and I am not hiding it. Let me explain why.
You read a book on Stoicism. Or listen to a lecture, read a blog, or see a post on social media. You are inspired. You are going to practice Stoicism. You are going to be happy, virtuous, and invincible.
In this issue, Greg Sadler poses an interesting question. Why is it, in many Stoic forums, people ask questions like
- Is Batman Stoic?
- Is Donald Trump Stoic?
- Is Mickey Mouse Stoic?
- Is feminism Stoic?
- Is traveling around the world Stoic?
Stoicism in the Time of a Pandemic
Since the time of Hierocles, the Stoics suggested that we are a part of a larger community. Steeped in our self-centered everyday concerns, we ignore others and devote our lives to our selfish pursuits.
Long ago, a thirty-something philosopher strode up the steps of a porch on the north end of the Athenian agora. It was the meeting place for all and sundry—jugglers, fire eaters, vendors, fishmongers, beggars, hawkers, and layabouts. The porch was decorated with beautiful paintings but it was also tainted with human blood. It was the site where hundreds had been executed.
As I write this, more than 250,000 around the world have lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 3,500,000 have been diagnosed with it. Compared to the world’s population of 7.5 billion people these are small numbers.