Stoics, The Stoics or Stoicism

Stoics, The Stoics or Stoicism
300 B.C.
100 A.D.

A School of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium, Stoics were concerned with the active relationship between cosmic determinism and human freedom, and the belief that it is virtuous to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is in accord with nature.

Author Quotes

Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of one's desires, but by the removal of desire. [Epictetus]

It is in our power to refrain from any opinion about things and not to be disturbed in our souls; for things in themselves have no natural power to force our judgments. [Marcus Aurelius]

The point is, not how long you live, but how nobly you live. [Seneca]

Get rid of the judgment ... get rid of the 'I am hurt,' you are rid of the hurt itself. [Marcus Aurelius]

It is the mark of a small mind to attack others when they fail in what he undertook, he who carries on itself a spirit[Epictetus]ual work takes them to himself: he that complete this work nor does it take to oneself or to others .

The primary duty is that the creature should maintain itself in its natural constitution; next, that it should cleave to all that is in harmony with nature and spurn all that is not; and when once this principle of choice and rejection has been arrived at, the next stage is choice, conditioned by inchoate duty; next such a choice is exercised continuously; finally, it is rendered unwavering and in thorough agreement with nature; and at that stage the conception of what good really is begins to dawn within us and be understood. Man's earliest attraction is to those things which are conformable to nature, but as soon as he has laid hold of general ideas or notions and has seen the regular order and harmony of conduct, he then values that harmony far higher than all the objects for which he felt the earliest affection and he is led to the reasoned conclusion that herein consists the supreme human good. In this harmony consists the good, which is the standard of action; from which it follows that all moral action, nay morality itself, which alone is good, though of later origin in time, has the inherent value and worth to make it the sole object of choice, for none of the objects to which earlier inpulses are directed is choiceworthy in and of itself. [Cicero]

God is one and the same with Reason, Fate, and Zeus; he is also called by other names. In the beginning he was by himself; he transformed the whole of substance (pasan ousia) through air into water, and just as in animal generation the seed has a moist vehicle, so in cosmic moisture God, who is the seminal reason (spermatikon logon) of the cosmos, remains behind in the moisture as an agent, adapting matter to himself with a view to the next stage of creation. [Diogenes]

Let Nature deal with matter, which is her own, as she pleases; let us be cheerful and brave in the face of everything, reflecting that it is nothing of our own that perishes. [Seneca]

The soul should know whither it is going and whence it came, what is good for it and what is evil, what it seeks and what it avoids, and what is that Reason which distinguishes between the desirable and the undesirable, and thereby tames the madness of our desires and calms the violence of our fears. [Seneca]

Happiness is not to acquire and enjoy, but nothing to be desired, as it is to be free. [Epictetus]

Let there be freedom from perturbation with respect to the things which come from external causes, and in actions whose cause lies in yourself, be just; that is, let impulse and action terminate in social acts, for this is according to your nature. [Marcus Aurelius]

The Stoics agree to put in the forefront the doctrine of presentation and sensation, inasmuch as the standard by which the truth of things is tested is generically a presentation, and again the theory of assent and that of apprehension and thought, which precedes all the rest, cannot be stated apart from presentation. For presentation comes first; then thought, which is capable of expressing itself, puts into the form of a propositions that which the subject receives from a presentation. [Diocles the Magnesian]

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. [Epictetus]

No man is free who is not master of himself. [Epictetus]

The universe is change, life is opinion. [Marcus Aurelius]

How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life! [Marcus Aurelius]

Nobody will harm you, unless you consent, evil will come only when you deem it hurts . [Epictetus]

There are corporeal things, such as this man, this horse. Next follow movements of thought conveying an assertion respecting bodies. These movements of thought have a sort of content peculiar to themselves and incorporeal. For instance, I see Cato walking. Sense has shown this; my mind has believed it. That which I see, that to which I have directed my eyes and my mind is a body. Thereupon I say: "Cato is walking." The thought which I express in these words is not corporeal, but by it an assertion is made respecting body, and some call it a judgment, others an assertion, others a predicate. [Seneca]

I am formed by nature for my own good: I am not formed for my own evil. [Epictetus]

Nothing happens to any man which he is not framed by nature to bear. [Marcus Aurelius]

There are two species of presentation, the one apprehending a real object, the other not. The former, which they take to be the test of reality, is defined as that which proceeds from a real object, agrees with that object itself, and has been imprinted and stamped upon the mind: the latter, or non-apprehending, that which does not proceed from any real object, or, if it does, fails to agree with the reality itself, not being clear or distinct. [Diogenes]

If we just tell you that someone has spoken ill of you say: “We must ignore all my other faults, to mention only those which are known.” [Epictetus]

Nothing outside the will can hinder or harm the will; it can only harm itself. If then we accept this, and, when things go amiss, are inclined to blame ourselves, remembering that judgment alone can disturb our peace and constancy, I swear to you by all the gods that we have made progress. [Epictetus]

There remains the fourth division of the cosmos, which is both by nature altogether fiery itself, and bestows a healthful and lifegiving heat upon all other substances. In this way the conclusion is reached that, since all the divisions of the cosmos are maintained by heat, the long-continued preservation of the cosmos itself is also due to a like and equivalent principle, all the more so as we are to understand that in the intermingling of this hot and fiery element with every organism, the power to generate, and the cause of production, are resident in that element from which all animate things, and things whose roots are contained in the earth, necessarily derive their birth and increase. [Cicero]

According to them some presentations are data of sense (aisthêtikai) and others are not: the former are the impressions conveyed through one or more sense-organs; while the latter, which are not data of sense, are those received through the mind itself, as is the case with incorporeal things and all other presentations which are received by reason. [Diogenes]

Author Picture
First Name
Stoics, The Stoics or Stoicism
Birth Date
300 B.C.
Death Date
100 A.D.

A School of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium, Stoics were concerned with the active relationship between cosmic determinism and human freedom, and the belief that it is virtuous to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is in accord with nature.