Stoics in a nutshell

When I hear “Stoic” used in the pejorative sense, as “icy and unfeeling,” I feel a little sorry for Marcus Aurelius. Sure, he was a Roman Emperor and probably managed just fine without my sympathies, but his Meditations, informed by the Stoic thought of slave-philosopher, Epictetus, were anything but icy and unfeeling. I also wince a little on my own behalf, because my own spiritual (or moral or intellectual) house is built in part with the following materials – one overarching goal and two principles — drawn from the Stoics.

Goal: To keep the soul (or psyche) tranquil and focused


1. Always concentrate your energy on what you can control, never on what you can’t control.

2. In everything you do, never lose sight of your moral purpose.

It is true that the Stoics found reason a steadier charioteer than emotion (i.e., better at keeping you keyed to these principles and goal), but who knows, maybe they were right about this.

5 thoughts on “Stoics in a nutshell

  1. We’re emotional creatures as much as we are rational ones. A state of mind-like-water is certainly necessary to focus on things, calm the storm, and so on. However, we need to rejoice when we’re happy, rage when we’re furious, lust when we’re horny, and otherwise express and explore the emotional peaks and valleys. We must live to excess sometimes.

    While we shouldn’t be bipolar about it, we cannot live life as Mr. Spock. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Manual, or Enchiridion – A look at Epicetus’ Stoic Guidebook | The Leather Library

  3. Pingback: The Leather Library / The Manual, or Enchiridion - A look at Epictetus

  4. Pingback: Men, Stoics, and the American Psychological Association | shakemyheadhollow

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