The Philosophy of the Stoic School (Stoans, Stoics)July 1, 2021
Very little remains of the Stoics today. As in the works of the pre-Socratic philosophers, some pages from their works have been preserved until today. Based on these documents, we can reach a very clear judgment about the Stoic philosophy.
We know that philosophies after Aristotle were divided into a number of opposing schools. The common point of these schools is that, as it is today, philosophy in all of them; It is divided into three main disciplines as logic, physics (metaphysics) and ethics. Logic; “What is the method of true knowledge? What are the limits of our craft?” seeks answers to questions such as Physics tries to solve problems related to the structure and main laws of the universe.
Morality is; “What is the path that leads to happiness? What is the meaning of human life? What should be the attitude of man towards life and death?” deals with questions. After Aristotle, morality became the number one discipline of philosophy, a kind of crown. For this reason, logic and metaphysics were perceived only as an introduction to morality and an aid to morality in this period.
Only in this respect was there an interest in these two branches of philosophy. But the Stoics, in particular, believed that in order to learn the meaning of human life, it was necessary to consider it strictly within the framework of the universe. For this reason, physics has always had an important place in Stoic philosophy.
For the Stoics, the virtue of mastering our emotions was considered important. Because this virtue gives us the opportunity to be indifferent to life and death.
Physics was important to the Stoics because; according to them, the real is definitely the “material”. Another thought has been added to this understanding, which is against Plato’s hypothesis of ideas: According to the Stoics; material and tangible reality constitutes a “living” whole, just like an organism.
There is a “universe spirit” that affects all material beings. The Stoics regard this universe spirit, which they envision as a material thing, as “true fire”. Fire is the most sensitive element and has the ability to absorb all items. The universe spirit, made up of true fire, is a force that unifies the universe as a whole.
The soul of the universe is divided into individual souls, which are then effective in all living things. The life force, which is effective in plants, animals and humans, are actually forces that have been separated from the universe spirit. The Stoics call the universe spirit “Logos”, like Heraclitus. As it is known, logos; “Word”, more generally, means a meaningful and coherent sentence.
Like a coherent sentence, a meaningful word, the universe has meaning and coherence. The Stoics speak of “Lodos”, which are dispersed and effective in individual beings, as well as logos that dominate the entire universe. Just as the spirit that is effective in individual living things is the “parts” of a single universe spirit, similarly, the intellect found in individual human beings. is also part of a single “universal mind.” Likewise, the human body is part of the universe body.
From these considerations, the Stoics draw the following conclusions: For the Stoics, “death” is the return of body and soul to the body and spirit of the universe. That’s why death is nothing to be afraid of. Because with death, the body and soul return to their origins. By accepting a universe soul and a universe body, Stoic metaphysics has become literally “pantheistic”.
Another result follows from the pantheism of the Stoics: According to them, everything is done according to a measured “purpose” and acts according to this purpose. First of all, everything that happens happens “necessarily”. Necessity dominates this universe. There is no place for coincidence in the universe. However, this necessity is not an obligation per se, it is a sincere and lively necessity.
This is a necessity, as a plant grows from seed and bears fruit. This living necessity also dominates the lives of individual people. Every person has a “destiny” (destiny) which he cannot avoid and which necessarily dominates his life. The way of life is predetermined for man. Just as the fruit that a seed will produce is predetermined.
For this reason, man must accept his destiny (destiny) as it is. It is completely wrong and wrong to attempt to escape from one’s destiny. For destiny necessarily dominates human life. Complaining about one’s fate is like an oak tree complaining, “Why are my fruits also acorns, not any other fruit”.
The relation of man to his destiny is like the relation of fruit to tree. That is why it is not right for a person to complain about his destiny. Complaining cannot change anything from human destiny. Therefore, the only “measured action” (reasonable) form for man is to accept his destiny as it is. Otherwise, there will be total sadness and distress, as nothing can be done.
This attitude is especially necessary for “death”, which is inevitable for every living thing. Death is the most common destiny. Death is inevitable for every living thing. It is therefore pointless to attempt to resist death, the most common destiny. Epicurus, one of the later Stoics, is very famous: “Die like a ripe fruit, and when you die give thanks to the tree that created you!”
oh the stoics