Oxford University Press (2005)

Tad Brennan
Cornell University
Tad Brennan explains how to live the Stoic life--and why we might want to. Stoicism has been one of the main currents of thought in Western civilization for two thousand years: Brennan offers a fascinating guide through the ethical ideas of the original Stoic philosophers, and shows how valuable these ideas remain today, both intellectually and in practice. He writes in a lively informal style which will bring Stoicism to life for readers who are new to ancient philosophy. The Stoic Life will also be of great interest to philosophers and classicists seeking a full understanding of the intellectual legacy of the Stoics.
Keywords Stoics
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Reprint years 2007
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Call number B528.B72 2005
ISBN(s) 9780199256266   0199256268   019921705X   9780199217052
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Chapters BETA
Why be a Stoic?

This chapter opens the discussion with the questions: what is it to be a Stoic and why would one would want to live like a Stoic? It offers answers to this question — answers that are considered incomplete, misleading, false, or completely hopeless — in an effort to provide contrast, thus ... see more

The Ancient Stoics: The Ancient Stoics: People and Sources

This chapter provides an introduction to the major figures in the history of Ancient Stoicism, and describes the sources of knowledge in Stoic philosophy. The Stoic school began a little before 300 BC, and reached the height of its theoretical elaboration in the next century. Stoic philoso... see more

The Ancient Philosophical Background

This chapter presents a philosophical background of Stoic ethics. Stoic ethics arose as the last of the distinctive ethical outlooks developed in ancient Greece. Socrates had the greatest influence on the Stoics. A summary of the philosophical content of Socrates’ contribution to the Stoic... see more

An Overview of Stoic Ethics

This chapter presents an overview of the Stoic system. Stoics assume that all human beings wish to be happy, and that happiness is the end of everything one does. They insist that it is wrong to think that pleasure is good; that money and fame are good; and that health, freedom, and life a... see more

Impressions and Assent

This chapter explores the Stoics’ views about impressions and assent. Assent is the linchpin of the Stoic system. It is the fundamental psychological activity; the key to the difference between virtuous and vicious people. One assents to impressions, which are alterations or changes in the... see more

Belief and Knowledge

This chapter examines the Stoics’ views on belief and knowledge. Stoics define belief as an assent of an impression. There are different kinds of beliefs; the most important ones follow from the fact that there are different kinds of assent, and different kinds of impressions to assent to.... see more

Impulses and Emotions

This chapter examines the Stoics’ views on impulses and emotions. Impulse is defined as an assent to an impression of a certain kind, i.e. an impression that attributes a certain kind of value to the agent’s own potential action. The relation between the three main kinds of impulse: emotio... see more

Goods and Indifferents

Stoics claim that only virtue is good, only vice is bad, and the rest are indifferents of various sorts. The strategies employed Stoics to argue for this claim, and why they should be believed are analysed. Cicero’s discussion on the fourth book of his treatise de Finibus (On Ends) is exam... see more

Final Ends

This chapter discusses the Stoic theory of the final end. It considers the various formulations of the Stoic end to impose some order on the multiplicity. The problem of ‘living consistently’ is shown to be a bad translation of an uninformative formulation. Ancient and anti-Stoic allegatio... see more

Oikeiôsis and Others

This chapter discusses the Stoics’ theory of oikeiôsis. Texts have referred to a process called oikeiôsis, whereby things are rendered oikeion to human beings. When one thinks of something as oikeion, one thinks of its welfare as giving one reasons to act. An examination of oikeiôsis shows... see more

What Makes an Action Befitting?

This chapter examines the Stoic theory of kathekon, translated as ‘befitting actions’. These are actions that people who are already virtuous do, and also the ones that people do to make progress towards virtue. What makes an action befitting has something to do with how it accords with th... see more

Discovering the Befitting: Two Models

This chapter examines two models of how Stoics decide what to do: the Salva Virtute deliberation and Indifferents-Only deliberation. The Indifferents-Only model is superior to the Salva Virtute model for deliberating on an actual situation. The Salva Virtute model is unable to provide any ... see more

Discovering the Befitting: A Better Model

This chapter examines the problems of the Indifferents-Only model. This model was replaced by a Naturalness-Only model, while the Salva Virtute model was replaced by the No Shoving model. The two new models are deliberately equivalent — yielding the same principles in the same circumstance... see more

God and Fate

This chapter discusses the Stoics’ views about God and Fate. The Stoics believe that every event that occurs in the cosmos was fated and determined to occur. When events are controlled by Fate — which is the same thing as Necessity, Zeus, and Providence — they are not influenced from a dis... see more

Necessity and Responsibility

This chapter examines two anti-Stoic arguments. The first claims that the Stoic acceptance of divination and fate commits them to the conclusion that everything happens by necessity. The second claims that the Stoics’ view of causation entails that nothing one does is really ‘up to us’, th... see more

The Lazy Argument

The Lazy Argument attempts to steer one away from Stoicism. It attacks determinism by showing that it makes nonsense of planning, deliberation, and effort. The Stoic response is to reject the soundness of the argument. The Lazy Argument does not show the incompatibility of Fate and ordinar... see more

The Evolution of the Will

The Stoic theory of fate had a great influence on the way other philosophers talked about topics such as free will and moral responsibility. Many of the central concepts and controversies surrounding the modern problem of free will emerged from the Stoic system, and can be traced back to t... see more

Taking Stock

This chapter presents synthesis of the discussions on the Stoic system in this volume. These include what is means to be a Stoic, theory of indifferents, theory of determinism, theory of ethics, and misconceptions about Stoicism. It concludes by saying that the study of Stoicism provides a... see more

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Citations of this work BETA

Stoicism.Dirk Baltzly - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Desire and Impulse in Epictetus and the Older Stoics.Jacob Klein - 2021 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 103 (2):221-251.

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