What Is Stoicism, What Does It Mean?

What Is Stoicism, What Does It Mean?

July 2, 2021 Off By Felso

Stoicism is the Pantheist and Materialist nature doctrine of Ancient Greek philosophy. The founder of Stoicism is Zeno of Cyprus. However, Stoicism is a doctrine that has been cultivated and developed over centuries and generations.

“Stoa” means “an open corridor resting on pillars” in Greek. Zeno gave his lectures in a picture gallery set up in such a corridor on the Poikile square in Athens (Stoa Poikile).

When Zenon founded the stoic school, Xenocrates was continuing the Platonic academy in Athens, Epicurus was continuing his own teaching, Krates the cynic school, Stilpon was continuing the Megara school. Before establishing his school, Zenon was a student in all these schools. In this respect, his teaching is based on Socrates’ principle: “Thinking right.”

Behaving well is possible by thinking right, and philosophy is a science of life that teaches how to think right. The goal is to live well, and the knowledge of right thinking and right behavior is essential to living well. Living well is possible with a strictly limited morality. The only measure to be found in this custom, for the righteous, is the measure of nature. So man should behave as nature behaves and never oppose nature.


Stoicism is a doctrine that fought Christianity and influenced Christianity in many ways. In the Patristic Period of Christian philosophy, church fathers made the first intellectual defenses of Christianity against Stoicism. At the cost of winning this war, Christianity had to donate many of its principles to Stoicism.

The great principle of Stoicism is to act in accordance with nature. Nature, that is, everything is God (unity of body, pantheism). To act in accordance with nature means to act in accordance with reason, and therefore in accordance with one’s own self.

Cyprian Zeno

Nature is the thing that makes the right choice, endures patiently, is the most measured and the most just distributor. This is called the “four main virtues of Zeno” and can be ranked as follows:

Zeno’s Four Major Virtues
Choosing the right
Do not endure patiently,
be measured,
Distribution with justice.

Happiness is in wisdom, wisdom is acting in accordance with nature. Nature is matter. Gospel truth; the corporeal is the material; because only the material can be active and passive. Since the first cause must be active and passive, it must be material.

Wisdom is attained by attaining theoretical and practical virtue. The theoretical virtue is to acquire correct knowledge of the objects themselves. The practical virtue is to act rationally. These two virtues are closely related to each other. Unless correct information is obtained on the objects themselves, reason cannot be acted upon.

The wise are self-sufficient. The naturalized sage has attained the bliss of a rock, nothing can shake or break it anymore. A mind freed from representations (catalepsis) and assumptions (doxa) can acquire clear knowledge of nature (episteme). Clear knowledge of nature will also give people the most accurate measure to live and be happy.


Stoicism is an understanding that has not reached the public, but has influenced the literate classes widely. There are religious rules, forms of worship, clergy. Those who adhered to this religion grew long beards and wore long coats. The main principle of the Stoic religion is to obey the laws of nature and obey the universal order.

All kinds of pain, sickness and death are natural; It is necessary to be indifferent to them and endure them patiently. However, human mistakes, evils and killings are things that should be detested and fought. A person who knows how to think correctly and act in accordance with nature is not mistaken in any of his actions and can overcome all his bodily passions.

Man must submit to everything that comes from nature, and must oppose everything that comes from man. The person who thinks right is the person who has become natural and therefore deified, and the goal of man should be to reach such a right thinking.

Natural measure leads to independence and equality. Differences between people are unnatural and artificial (artificial) differences. The human dimensions, which have separated people from each other in various fields, have to disappear in the face of natural measure.

People by nature, that is, children of the same father, are brothers and therefore equal and free to each other. Being connected to the same nature leads the individual to humanity (humanism) and citizenship of the universe (cosmopolitanism).

Epictetus says within the framework of Stoic morality, “You cannot deal with both your own soul and the objects of the outer world.”

The following words of the Stoic Epictetus sum up Stoicism:

“Just as the hour is part of the day, so I am part of the whole. The hour comes and goes, and I come and pass. My duty is to do what I can and not listen to the upside. When I go on a cruise, I choose the ship, the captain and the season. This is my job. I don’t care if there is a storm on the way. This is not my job. It’s up to me to choose the captain, it’s up to the captain to deal with the storm. Wisdom is knowing what is ours and what is not, and acting accordingly.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer Yıldırım