Stoic School, What is Stoicism? Who are the Stoics and the Stoics?July 1, 2021
The Stoic School, stoicism, stoics and stoic discourses are all terms used for the same school of philosophy. Stoicism, which has survived for many centuries without changing its basic principles, is a rationalist, materialist and heptheistic philosophy.
The founder of the school is Zenon from Kition (Cyprus). Zenon, who gave lectures in a portico gallery called the Stoa Poikile in Athens, defined philosophy as “the science of divine and human things”. His student, Kleanthes of Assos, was a former boxer who earned his living by watering the gardens at night. After Zeno, he became the head of the school.
Epictetus says, within the framework of Stoic morality, “You cannot deal with both your own soul and the objects of the outer world.”
His successor is Chrysippos of Soloili. With his death, the Old Stoic period ends. There are two important philosophers of the Middle Stoa: Panaitios of Rhodes and Poseidonios of Apameia (Syria). What really matters is the Imperial Stoa. There are two great philosophers of this period: the slave Epictetus from Hieropolis (Phrygian) and the Roman emperor Antoninus Augustus Marcus Aurelius.
The Stoics divided philosophy into three: logic, physics, and morality. Like Heraclitus, they put Logos as a determining power on the basis of change, and like him, they regarded Fire as their first principle and saw it as a god.
According to the Stoics, who do not accept any realm of existence outside the universe, man, who is a part of nature, receives a share from the universal master, the Logos. According to them, the most suitable life is the one that is lived according to the requirements of nature.
Accordingly, almost all of these philosophers committed suicide by listening to the command of nature. They are people who do not care about the glitters and riches of the world. Epictetus says, “You cannot deal with your own soul and the objects of the outer world.”
Marcus Aurelius also says that nature imposes a burden on man only as much as he can bear. According to him, a person can lead a completely happy life: “To live completely happy all the time. Our soul can find strength in itself for this, as long as it can be indifferent to irrelevant things.”
It would not be right to pass without mentioning the name of the Jewish Philo of Alexandria (13 BC-54 AD), who developed a philosophy inclined towards monotheism. Much influenced by Plato and religious thought, Philo introduced Jewish values into Greek philosophy, influencing neo-Platonism and the church fathers with his views.
According to Philo, God is one, his universe is transcendent. The Alexandrian philosopher Plotinos (205-270), born in Lycopolis, was influenced by Christian dogmas on the one hand, and became the new interpreter of Plato on the other. Neo-Platonian Plotinus calls God “One”. According to him, God is the first hypostasis, the first substance, from him the second substance Logos, that is thought, is derived.
There is no subject-object separation at God’s level, this separation occurs on the second floor. On the second floor, there are both Ideas, which are the first examples of things, and the Nous that think about them. From this level of thought, the third hypostasis, that is, the soul, is derived. The soul is the principle that animates the body. Under the soul is the solid of bodies, and under it is the solid of matter, which does not share in divine light.
Plotinus tried to develop the philosophy of Porphyrios of Tyre (Lebanese) (233-304), Iamblikhos of Chalcis (250-330), who taught in Alexandria, and Proclus of Byzantium (423-485), who studied in Alexandria and taught in Athens. Plotinianism and pagan thought came to an end when Justinian closed the Athenian school in 529. From now on, Christian thought will dominate philosophy.
The Stoic School, founded by Zeno in Athens, inspired by the views of the Socratic philosophy schools, is called the Stoic School due to the physical structure of the school.
The basis of the thought process adopted by the Stoic School is life-directing knowledge, based on knowledge and living in accordance with nature. According to this school, which sees man as a carrier of reason and will that dominates all his actions and behaviors, nature is the only entity to be taken as an example in life. In order to live in accordance with nature, certain and undoubted knowledge must be acquired.
This kind of knowledge is wise knowledge that conforms to the standards of reason, (episteme). The integrity and order of life is only based on the unity of knowledge and action. Because knowledge is not an ornament, it is a guiding, organizing, illuminating light.
According to the Stoic doctrine, man must be morally competent. The exemplary person of this competence is wise. A wise virtuous person is a person who has a consistency between his thoughts and actions in accordance with the principles of reason, and who guides righteousness, balance, goodness and beauty in all his actions. Due to the wise knowledge he has gained, he learns the universal laws of nature that must be followed, the rules of behavior necessary for individuals, by examining nature.
These behavioral elements, which Zenon put forward as views, enabled the emergence of an advanced, more comprehensive doctrine with new contents in the hands of philosophers such as Kleanthes and Khrysippos. Therefore, in the history of philosophy there are three Stoic Schools, the first being that of Zeno.
Old Stoa to the school of Zenon, Kleanthes and Khrysippos trio, Middle Stoa to the school ruled by Panaitios and Poseidonios, in the era of Roman rule