The last couple of years have been extremely strenuous to all of us stranded at our homes to the point where it’s repulsive to even turn on the TV. We all needed something to cope up with the amount of negativity that surrounds us. Some resorted to music, some took up art. I, on the other hand, took up reading Greek philosophy, more specifically Stoicism.
Stoicism is one of the (less bizarre) Greek philosophies which argues that the path to eudaimonia (happiness) is for humans to act in ‘accordance with nature’, meaning being rational and not break character no matter how grave a calamity hits us. It is a very common misconception between ‘Stoicism’ and ‘stoicism’, the latter being a person who suppresses or doesn’t share his/her emotion. On the contrary, Stoicism does not advocate the suppression of emotion rather it teaches us to have better relationships with them.
The founding father of this philosophy was Zeno of Citium in Athens in the 3rd century B.C with the final notable follower of Stoicism being the famous Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The Stoic philosophy stands over 3 pillars:
The Dichotomy of Control: Recognising what’s in our hands and what is not
The Responsibility: Understanding that it’s not things that upset us but our judgement of things.
Virtue: A way to act with excellence in every moment regardless of the situation.
The highlight of Stoicism is that ‘virtue is the only good for human beings. However, they do not oppose having luxurious things in life. They see such entities as adiaphoric (indifferent), but they have value and are the medium for virtue to act upon.
Despite all the terrible things that have happened to the world with or without the pandemic, self-reflection is of utmost importance, as we periodically review what luxury we have and do not have its important for us to also review by what ideals we stand by and what can be done to change our view of the world and look at things more positively.
But why Stoicism? In all of the Greek philosophies such as cynicism, nihilism, and many other, Stoicism I feel is relatable to the modern world situations where we deal with hundreds of things that go by with or without our knowledge. At every passing day, we seem to find ourselves like a brick in a wall, serving no purpose except being chained to the system we are bound to. I found this philosophy as a form of ‘escapism’ which does not take readers to a fictitious place but rather helps us to make our imaginative and ideal world a reality by just changing the lens through which we look at our lives.
Recommended Reading: Discourses and Selected Writings by Epictetus
By, Pranav Sudhir Kashyap, Editorial Head