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Reddit Stoicism FAQ Revised

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  1. **What is the purpose of r/Stoicism?**
  2. We're an independent-thinking community committed to learning about, practicing, and applying Stoic principles and techniques. As stoicism is a philosophy of life, we often see our other interests in a stoic perspective, leading to interesting analysis. We welcome you to join us!
  3. **What is Stoicism?**
  4. Stoicism is a philosophy of life, a practical guide to applying wisdom to your daily choices, focused on achieving peace of mind or happiness. Suffering is caused from errors in judgment on external affairs resulting in destructive thoughts and behaviors when we should be indifferent to these external affairs. Stoics puts the mind as stoic master over the body's passions. These errors in judgment are caused from not living consistent with nature.
  5. To live consistent with nature, stoics live a virtuous life in accordance with the natural limits of their control: their will. We only control that which is in our will, which doesn't include the actions of other people, but includes our response to those actions. We're disturbed not by the events around us, but by our perspective of the events. Stoics avoid becoming attached to anything not of themselves, for if its of external origin, they may decide it is painful when that attachment is lost due to other external factors you have no control over.
  6. **Why have a philosophy of life?**
  7. Without a cohesive philosophy of life, we risk living a less fulfilling life than what is possible. Everyone can be a philosopher. Human beings are rational, thinking, reasoning creatures. But people are distracted through fulfilling basic needs, media overload, and increased social connectivity, on top of the usual temptations that daily confront us. Applying the medicinal cure of stoic philosophy to your mind can lead to a happier, calmer life.
  8. **What does it mean to live in accordance with nature?**
  9. Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, was the first to use that phrase, "live according to Nature," and what it means exactly is that Stoics look to Nature as their guide to life. We believe that Nature teaches us everything we need to know about how to live well in this world. That is why Stoic physics is so important. In antiquity, physics was known as natural philosophy, and by studying nature we come to know ourselves and what makes us happy and successful and wise.
  10. Later, another Stoic, Panaetius, expanded the original motto to include not just nature in general, but also the nature of the individual. Each one of us has a unique personality; including different talents and capacities we can develop to achieve our highest ideal. So, living according to Nature also means to live in accordance with one's own nature. The wise live according to both human nature in general and one's individual nature in particular.
  11. **What are some practices for pursuing a stoic life?**
  12. Stoics place a strong emphasis on constant practice as a means for improvement, not just a set of beliefs. Stoic practices include logic, Socratic dialog & self-dialog, daily reflection on everyday problems & possible solutions, contemplation of death, and training attention to remain in the present moment.
  13. * Dichotomy of control - throughout the day, keep in mind what you can control and what you can't control (and what you can partially control). Any time you are frustrated or angry or upset, think of things in these terms. For instance, you can't control the past.
  14. * Negative visualization - imagine something that you fear will happen has actually happened (a loved one dies for instance). This will help you be grateful for what you have and also take some of the sting out of bad things because you have prepared yourself for bad things to happen.
  15. * Self-denial - similar to negative visualization, you are consciously deciding to not enjoy something for a time. Go camping, shower using cold water, don't use the dishwasher, etc. This will help you be grateful for what you have but also keep you from attaching your happiness to having things that are ultimately not entirely in your control.
  16. * Meditation - think about how you have dealt with each day in light of your Stoic principals. This helps to reinforce them and understand what areas you should work on.
  17. * Community – Building bonds that will reinforce one's progress as an influence separate from the fickle influences of popular society. Ancient stoics practiced this through constantly corresponding letters.
  18. * Morning Devotional - Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All of these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill. I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my fellow human or hate him, without my decision to choose that opinion. The harm is done in my response to their actions, not in their actions.
  19. **What r/stoicism community practices exist?**
  20. Every Monday & Thursday, there's a new lecture posted from Musonius, which allows us to contemplate his words in context of our human natures, as well as our current moment. There are approximately weekly Ask Us Anythings, Guest Ask Me Anythings, and quote threads.
  21. **How do I explain Stoicism to a child?**
  22. Remember when your gold fish died, and you felt sad? Well, think about these three things:
  23. * Sadness is a bad feeling, right? And you have some control over how you feel about things. Remember that time you did a dance for show and tell, and at first you kept thinking about how the other kids might laugh at you, and it wasn't fun, but then you stopped worrying about that, and it was fun? Well, I know that while you were doing your dance today, you were feeling sad, because you were thinking sad things about your gold fish. But, if you had just been thinking about Mr. Happyfin in a different way, or not at all, you could have been happy. And happy is a good feeling.
  24. * There are these forces of nature, and they led to your fish dying. But they also led to your birthday, and your mom loving you, and that pretty butterfly outside the window. Everything in the whole world is connected by these forces. The whole universe is one big thing, and just like how you love your sister even though she can be annoying sometimes, you should love the universe, and all its parts, even if some of those parts might make you feel sad at first.
  25. * Happiness is a part of you. What feels happiness and sadness? You do. You're the one who's responsible for all the emotions you ever feel, and while at first you may be tempted to feel bad about Mr. Happyfin's death, why should you? Mr. Happyfin died, but that has nothing to do with the real you. And neither did the time your friends made fun of you at school because you wore a pink shirt, nor the time you scraped your knee, nor the time you lost your lunch money. None of those things made the real, inner you better or worse, so why should you feel bad because of them?
  26. **Misconceptions**
  27. **What is the difference between stoicism with a lower case and Stoicism with an upper case?**
  28. The word 'stoic' has come to mean 'unemotional' or indifferent to pain, because Stoic ethics taught freedom from 'passion' by following 'reason.' The Stoics did not seek to extinguish emotions; rather,   they taught living according to one's natural limits that enables a person to develop clear judgment and inner calm instead of mentally and physically destructive passions. Emotional instincts are natural, its how you respond to them that matter.
  29. **Is it true that Stoics repress their emotions and feelings?**
  30. This is an old misunderstanding. Most of us have heard the definition of "stoic," namely a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining. However, this is a very limited aspect of Stoic philosophy and is easily misunderstood without context. Where the misunderstanding comes from is the Stoic belief that emotions are based upon a judgment. All of us, including Stoics, have emotional reactions to events that can cause anger, grief, and fear, but after the initial instinctive reaction, it is our judgment about the event that either inflames or cools the emotion.
  31. **What is the brief history of Stoicism?**
  32. The hellenistic philosophy of Stoicism founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC. Unlike the other philosophical schools, Zeno taught from the Stoa Poikile, “the painted porch”, over the Agora, the central gathering place in Athens. Stoicism was popular throughout both the hellenic world and the later Roman Empire. Many of Rome's elites considered themselves stoics, from Nero's tutor to Emperor Marcus Aurelius. This popularity ended when the christian Emperor Justinian I closed all of the philosophy schools in 529 AD because he perceived pagan associations from their origins.
  33. **How did historical Stoics treat slaves?**
  34. “Kindly remember that he whom you call your slave sprang from the same stock, is smiled upon by the same skies, and on equal terms with yourself breathes, lives, and dies. ..I do not wish to involve myself in too large a question, and to discuss the treatment of slaves, towards whom we Romans are excessively haughty, cruel, and insulting. But this is the kernel of my advice: Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your betters. And as often as you reflect how much power you have over a slave, remember that your master has just as much power over you. ..I propose to value them
  35. according to their character, and not according to their duties. Each man acquires his character for himself, but accident assigns his duties. Invite some to your table because they deserve the honor, and others that they may come to deserve it. For if there is any slavish quality in them as the result of their low associations, it will be shaken off by intercourse with men of gentler breeding. ” - Seneca, Letters from a Stoic, Letter 47
  36. **How did historical Stoics treat women?**
  37. Quote to be found explaining position. More historical perspective questions?
  38. **Who or what was Stoicism influenced by?**
  39. Zeno's ideas developed from those of the Cynics, whose founding father, Antisthenes, had been a disciple of Socrates. His teachers included Stilbo, Philo, and Diodorus amongst others.
  40. **Who or what did Stoicism influence?**
  41. Stoicism's effects are felt throughout history, but a sampling of people would include Saint Augustine, Montesquieu, Francis Bacon, and James Stockdale (POW in Vietnam for over 7 years, subjected to torture, including isolation). Stoicism has been particularly influential in the psychology. The founders of cognitive therapy and REBT, Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis, both refer to Stoicism in particular as the main precursor of the modern cognitive approach.
  42. **Hellenic Word Contemporary Contexts**
  43. **How can we better understand Apatheia?**
  44. Apatheia is the state of being without pathe, or passions. Passions, however, are only a subset of what we call "emotions" in English. In particular, they are that subset that are caused or reinforced by the mistaken belief that something indifferent is good or bad. The Stoics believed that distress is always a passion, but not everything that falls under the category of "emotions" in English was seen as a passion. One can have feelings that are not reinforced by incorrect beliefs.
  45. **How can we better understand Eudaimonia?**
  46. Better educated person on hellenic language explain this.
  47. **More Resources**
  48. PDF Download Links? I have quite a few I could look up, but wanted others to throw out what they know. PDF Download Links (Letters from a Stoic, Meditations, Discourses etc.)? I have quite a few I could look up, but wanted others to throw out what they know.
  49. Modern books that have been found helpful and informative include the following:
  50. * A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William Irvine
  51. * Stoic Serenity: A Practical Course on Finding Inner Peace by Keith Seddon (as part of this book/course, you will need a copy of "Letters from a Stoic" by Seneca and "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius)
  52. * Epictetus: A Stoic and Socratic Guide to Life by A.A. Long
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