Stoicism

Stoicism (stō´ĬsĬzəm), school of philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium (in Cyprus) c.300 BC The first Stoics were so called because they met in the Stoa Poecile [Gr.,=painted porch], at Athens, a colonnade near the Agora, to hear their master Zeno lecture. He had studied with Crates the Cynic, and his own teaching included the Cynic adaptation of the Socratic ideals of virtue, endurance, and self-sufficiency. He added to them the explanation of the physical universe given by Heraclitus and something of the logic of Aristotle. The development and organization of Zeno's doctrines into a great system of metaphysics was the work of Chrysippus (c.280–207 BC), successor to Cleanthes. Among the acknowledged leaders of the Stoics in the following period was Panaetius of Rhodes, who in the 2d cent. BC introduced Stoicism into Rome. He and his pupil Posidonius sought to lessen the attacks of critics by mingling with the Stoic doctrines some of Plato's psychological views. Cicero, a pupil of Posidonius, was indebted to a work of Panaetius for the basis of his own treatise De officiis. The Romans, who had received Stoicism more cordially than they did any other Greek philosophy, can claim the third period as their own. To it belong the philosophers Seneca and Epictetus of Phrygia and the emperor Marcus Aurelius. Stoicism, with its roots in earlier doctrines and theories of the human person and the universe, built up an ideal of the virtuous, wise man. Regarding philosophy as divided into physics, logic, and ethics, the Stoics made logic and physics a foundation for ethics. The Stoics, especially Chrysippus, are renowned for their logic, which contains the first systematic analysis of how the truth value of a compound proposition depends upon the truth values of its components. The physical theory underlying Stoicism is materialistic. All that has reality is material. Force, which is the shaping principle, is joined with matter. The universal working force, God, pervades all and becomes the reason and soul in the animate creation. In their ethical creed, the Stoics accepted virtue as the highest good in life. They identified virtue with happiness, claiming that it was untouched by changes in fortune. "To live consistently with nature" was a familiar maxim among the Stoics. Only by putting aside passion, unjust thoughts, and indulgence and by performing duty with the right disposition can people attain true freedom and rule as lords over their own lives.

See J. M. Rist, Stoic Philosophy (1969); A. A. Long, ed., Problems in Stoicism (1971); A. A. Long and P. N. Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers, (2 vol., 1987); M. Reesor, The Nature of Man in Early Stoic Philosophy (1989).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Cambridge Companion to the Stoics
Brad Inwood.
Cambridge University Press, 2003
Philosophic Pride: Stoicism and Political Thought from Lipsius to Rousseau
Christopher Brooke.
Princeton University Press, 2012
Topics in Stoic Philosophy
Katerina Ierodiakonou.
Clarendon Press, 1999
Determinism and Freedom in Stoic Philosophy
Susanne Bobzien.
Clarendon Press, 1998
Ethics and Human Action in Early Stoicism
Brad Inwood.
Clarendon Press, 1985
Classical Thought
Terence Irwin.
Oxford University Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Stoicism"
The Stoics on Bodies and Incorporeals
Boeri, Marcelo D.
The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 54, No. 4, June 2001
Cause and Explanation in Ancient Greek Thought
R. J. Hankinson.
Clarendon Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VII "The Stoics"
The Roman Mind: Studies in the History of Thought from Cicero to Marcus Aurelius
M. L. Clarke.
Harvard University Press, 1956
Librarian’s tip: Chap. III "Stoicism"
Stoics, Epicureans, and Sceptics: An Introduction to Hellenistic Philosophy
R. W. Sharples.
Routledge, 1996
FREE! The Five Great Philosophies of Life
William De Witt Hyde.
Macmillan, 1911
Librarian’s tip: Chap. II "Stoic Self-Control by Law"
The Morality of Happiness
Julia Annas.
Oxford University Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "The Stoics: Human Nature and the Point of View of the Universe"
Seneca: A Philosopher in Politics
Miriam T. Griffin.
Clarendon Press, 1992
The Roman Philosophers: From the Time of Cato the Censor to the Death of Marcus Aurelius
Mark Morford.
Routledge, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Stoicism under Nero and the Flavians"
Philosophia Togata: Essays on Philosophy and Roman Society
Miriam Griffin; Jonathan Barnes.
Clarendon Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Cicero on Stoic Moral Philosophy and Private Property"
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