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The Stoic Theory

Decent Essays
In modern society, a conflict exists between the accurate depiction of stoicism and the misconstrued, popular conception of it. Someone who is Stoic is seen as a person who shows no emotion or who is in general a cold person. While this may be true to a degree, the reason why Stoics choose to not have or show emotion is not understood by most. It is important to understand that their philosophy ends up affecting how they think about emotions, as in showing no emotion is a byproduct of the way they think. It is important to first understand the reasoning behind Stoic theory in order to understand why they show no emotion. While stoicism can be explained in many ways, their basic beliefs render its philosophy impractical and inconsistent.
Stoics
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1.15.2). So even if you previously assented to false beliefs, you could transform your life and not assent to those beliefs anymore and therefore not make value judgements. Another analogy that supports this idea is one explained by Cicero in which philosophy is described as the art devoted to curing the soul of diseases just as medicine is the art of curing the body of diseases (Tusc. 3.1-21). For the Stoics, the diseases of the soul are emotions which are the product of faulty judgements. Figuring out what the faulty judgements are is similar to the process a doctor undertakes to make a physical diagnosis. Emotions are just symptoms of deeper mental disturbances, false beliefs, which are the result of assenting to faulty judgements. Philosophy, like medicine, is there to try and cure us of these false beliefs by teaching us how to not make faulty judgements (Sellar). It is important for Stoics to believe that impressions are forced onto them, but that they can have the power to assent to them or not. In this way, one could not be directly responsible for his automatic emotional response, but responsible for the faulty beliefs that have lead to that…show more content…
Stoic ethical theory starts with the interpretation of what Zeno, the founder of the Stoics, describes as ‘living in agreement’ or ‘living in agreement with nature’ (Inwood). Later Stoics have changed this original meaning to various wording such as ‘selecting the greatest most important things in accordance with nature, not being able to overcome them’ (Barney). But to spell out the theory, they say people are naturally programmed by oikeiōsis which appears in Cicero’s On Ends as well as Diogenes Laertius’ account of Stoic ethics (Fin. 3.16, DL 7.85). This is the idea that the dearest thing to every animal, and human, is its own constitution and its consciousness (DL 7.85). In that way, we naturally do things for self-preservation or what we think will be good for us and avoid what we think will be bad for us. However, since human beings are not just animals and have rationality, they must also pursue things that preserve their rationality as well as goods taking care of the body. Many people become confused because they have heard about Stoics committing suicide, which seems on the surface to go against what they believe. Yet, Stoics in certain situations can commit suicide and not go against their philosophy because even though killing oneself may not contribute to self-preservation in the sense that they are a living animal, it could preserve the independent rational being that is more important to what humans
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