Stoicism - It Is What It Is

Discussion in 'Philosophy & Psychology' started by Bobby Cole, Mar 15, 2018.

  1. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Veteran Member
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    I have often referred to myself as being somewhat of a Stoic and sometimes that rings a few bells with some people as being heartless or emotionless but it is neither. For me, it is the acknowledgment of the "It is what it is" philosophy of some things in life that ostensibly cannot be changed.

    Epictetus, (A.D. 55-135) a Greek philosopher to whom a lot of credit for the growth of Stoicism is given but not without the credit for the earlier writings of gents like Heraclitus (500 BC) and a student of Socrates, Antisthenes (390 BC) who were at the very roots of the system.

    Okay, so what was so special about what he wrote? The two most popular pieces were Enchiridion (the handbook) and Discourses in which he discusses life in general in reference to the things between man and God (or gods since his main god was Zeus).

    To paraphrase a couple of his writings one speaks of emotions and the weather in which he chastises mankind for being upset about that which only Zeus was in control of. Another, my favorite, was concerning man and our ability to see color. Again, to paraphrase, he (erroneously) said that man was the only species that can see color and that ability was in order to further glorify God.
    If everything was black, white and shades of grey but man saw color, how then would it glorify God? Further, if man could only see black and white but everything was in color, God could not possibly be glorified by what man saw. But, man does see the colors that God has provided and sees the beauty in it all which does indeed glorify God.

    Last but not least (for this portion) here are a few of his quotes which I am sure that many people say without knowing from whence they came.

    1, We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.
    2. The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.
    3. First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.
    4. Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.
    5. It takes more than just a good looking body. You've got to have the heart and soul to go with it.
    6. People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.
    7. If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.
    8. There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.
    9. The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possibly on external things.
    10. When you are offended at any man's fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger.
    11. The greater the difficulty the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.

    12 and my favorite: To accuse others for one's own misfortunes is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one's education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one's education is complete.
     
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  2. Shirley Martin

    Shirley Martin Veteran Member
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    I Googled Stoicism. It is fascinating reading. It seemed to have an influence on Christianity. Some of the basic precepts of Christianity seem to stem from Stoicism. Fascinating.
     
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  3. Cody Fousnaugh

    Cody Fousnaugh Veteran Member
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    Very, VERY interesting Bobby. Some easy to do, while others, definitely hard (for some, that is).
     
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  4. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Veteran Member
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    Actually, a whole lot of what we attribute to being exclusive to Christians are concepts that were recognized as philosophical precepts taught by earlier teachers / philosophers.
    Epictetus, in particular, was one of the first to introduce Logos, a key word which we find in our own 1st chapter of John. Logos, or the base word for Logo, is a foundational word in which all else in a text centers around.
    In the case of the book of John, we have: "In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God, the same was with God in the beginning." Word, in this case, is Logos or that which all else in the first chapter centers around and is recognized as He who is later named, Jesus.
    In the case of Epictetus, everything centered around Zeus (god) or when not otherwise explicitly named he imported the word Logos.
    Now, Epictetus was pretty much a contemporary of John so the possibility that they were of the same literary fabric is extremely fascinating to me.
     
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  5. Maryt Hope

    Maryt Hope Very Well-Known Member
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  6. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Veteran Member
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    A Great find @Maryt Hope !
    Although the quote is from the writings of Epictetus, it ensamples the very core of Stoicism and even philosophy itself.
    When we finally discover that there is absolutely nothing we can do to change anyone nor anything around us (sans those things we can physically determine their structure or longevity) we find that our own attitude changes and generally for the better.
    The base attitude of the stoic nearly emulates the emotionless fictional character of Spock on Star Trek. Logic is indeed emotionless but will provoke a reaction and emotion of which we are supposed to be in total control.

    Good or bad, the sun will set and rise with or without us. It's how we react to the things that happen between those two events that makes us who we are.
     
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  7. Shirley Martin

    Shirley Martin Veteran Member
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    I don't agree that we can't change anyone or anything. I think we can change some others by the way we act toward them. We can change some things.


    THE BUTCHARTS
    Robert Pim Butchart, a pioneer in the thriving North American cement industry, was attracted from Owen Sound, Ontario to Canada’s West Coast by rich limestone deposits. In 1904, he developed a quarry and built a cement plant at Tod Inlet (on Vancouver Island) to satisfy Portland cement demand from San Francisco to Victoria. Jennie Butchart became the company’s chemist. Close to the quarry, the Butcharts established the family home complete with sweet peas and rose bushes.
    As Mr. Butchart exhausted limestone deposits, his enterprising wife Jennie, made plans to create something of beauty in the gigantic exhausted pit. From farmland nearby, she had tonnes of top soil brought in by horse and cart and used it to line the floor of the abandoned quarry. Little by little, the quarry blossomed into the spectacular Sunken Garden.

    Today what had been an ugly pit is a place of beauty beyond compare. Butchart Gardens:

    spring-full-sunken-garden.jpg

    summer-full-fountain.jpg
     
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  8. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Veteran Member
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    I see your point and it is well made...........but................ultimately it is the individual's choice to make changes. Kind of like, "you can lead a horse to water etc, etc................
     
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  9. Maryt Hope

    Maryt Hope Very Well-Known Member
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    ----------------------------------------

    Indeed, Epictetus was a great Stoic philosopher.
    “The Enchiridion “or “Manual of Epictetus “ is a timeless piece of classic literature.
     
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  10. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Veteran Member
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    Although Epictetus is my favorite Stoic philosopher, other ancient and near ancient philosophers played a huge role in the creation and continuation of the morality based thought process. Great men history such as Zeno of Citium,( who is largely attributed to be an originator of Stoicism) Plato, Aristotle, and even Markus Aurelius, an emperor of Rome, were contributors of Stoicism.

    If a person were to describe ancient Stoicism in as few lines as possible, it might be that the belief system was one that honors the natural processes we see in nature. It valued those who controlled their emotions and sought not those things of pleasure but rather concentrated on morality and those things of ethical value. A person seeking to do those things that are adverse to what we see in nature is against that which is moral and natural.

    In our own Christian anthology, the Bible, we have James "the brother of Jesus" making the statement, "I will show you my faith by my works" which is a prime tenet of Stoicism. Another Biblical comparison comes with the Master Himself when he told his followers [concerning the works of miracles] "be ye not amazed". (The focus being that those things we deem as miracles are natural.)

    In many ways the one liners of, "What you see is what you get" , and "It is what it is", pretty much encompass the attitude of the good Stoic.
     
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  11. Maryt Hope

    Maryt Hope Very Well-Known Member
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    “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

    (“ Meditations”, Marcus Aurelius)
     
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  12. Hal Pollner

    Hal Pollner Very Well-Known Member
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    Stoicism is overrated.
    Hal
     
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  13. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Veteran Member
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    Stoicism is only a name for an attitude concerning the things we deal with in life and thus far, I do not believe I have rated it as above or below any other attitude. If I did rate it then I would be placing myself, as a person who has that Stoic type of attitude, in jeopardy of demeaning or granting superiority to other beliefs and / or practices.
    Your thoughts @Hal Pollner ?
     
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  14. Hal Pollner

    Hal Pollner Very Well-Known Member
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    Well, I'll tell ya:

    Jeopardy? Demeaning? Superiority?

    Them's tall words for a sharecropper like me!

    Hal
    053.jpg
     
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  15. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Veteran Member
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    As a small rebuttal, even the janitorial supplies at Boeing have larger and much more complicated wording on them and by your own previous posts, I trust you didn't work for so many years cleaning toilet bowls otherwise the directions didn't do you much good.

    Note: My post was in question to your remark about Stoicism being overrated and I simply wished to know more about why you feel that way. I wasn't being funny, I was only being as perfectly candid and honest as I could possibly post as to my own circumstance as a person who does practice Stoicism in it's very raw form.
    I'm really trying to get along with you here but a three word post didn't explain anything and neither does a picture of you and an inanimate wolf.
     
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