Stoicism & Epicureanism: What’s the Difference?

Stoicism and Epicureanism were ancient rivals. And both philosophies are back. Which philosophy is right? Do you really have to choose? I think Stoicism and Epicureanism were rivals because of their similarities. They’re variations on a theme. Both philosophies explore how to live a virtuous life. Both see ataraxia (“without disturbance”) as a path toContinue reading “Stoicism & Epicureanism: What’s the Difference?”

Stoicism might not be a bummer after all

I heard the Dude is Epicurean. He follows the pleasure principle. Take ‘er easy. And he’s anything but unemotional. I’ve never heard anyone say Mr. Spock is a dude. But wait a minute. The Coen brothers film The Big Lebowski is a tale of the Dude being very unDude. This aggression will not stand, manContinue reading “Stoicism might not be a bummer after all”

Stoic & Epicurean rivalry

Both can agree that a virtuous life is usually more pleasurable. Stoics and Epicureans were ancient rivals. And some modern followers of these philosophies may feel inclined to perpetuate that rivalry. But it’s unnecessary. Stoics and Epicureans have different answers to what it means to live a good life. There’s no objective answer to thisContinue reading “Stoic & Epicurean rivalry”

“A Sage wants nothing but needs many things; a fool wants everything.”

At first I found Seneca’s words from his ninth letter to Lucilius confusing. Seneca opens his letter explaining a common misconception: “Lack of feeling” in Stoicism means “a soul which rejects any sensation of evil,” not lack of emotion. That is, Sages “feel their troubles but overcome them.” A Sage has friends but also isContinue reading ““A Sage wants nothing but needs many things; a fool wants everything.””

Marcus Aurelius: Pleasure & pain

Stoics and Epicureans have serious disagreements about pleasure and pain. Marcus Aurelius articulates why the Stoic view is best for human flourishing. From Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Don’t fear pain or seek pleasure The human soul degrades itself when it is overpowered by pleasure or pain (2.16). To fear pain is to fear something that’s bound toContinue reading “Marcus Aurelius: Pleasure & pain”

Marcus Aurelius: Meditations on justice & providence

Marcus Aurelius claimed that everything that happens is just (4.10). This is so because divine providence determines everything (4.26). But his view is irrational because if everything is just then injustice doesn’t exist. Yet, if justice – the basis of all Stoic virtue (11.10) – is moot then Stoic virtue also is moot. Ancient Epicureans criticized Stoicism alongContinue reading “Marcus Aurelius: Meditations on justice & providence”

Nature, the Universe & the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius believed in an interconnected universe where everything is just and happens according to divine will – even if that means you’re oppressed. Modern science has not vindicated the ancient Stoic view of nature. Their rivals – the Epicureans – believed that nature is atomistic, impersonal, and that divine providence doesn’t exist.  From Meditations byContinue reading “Nature, the Universe & the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius”