Stoicism definition principles Teachings Epicureanism

Stoicism is a philosophical school and doctrine that emerged in Ancient Greece, which values ​​fidelity to knowledge and a focus on everything that can only be controlled by the person himself . It despises all kinds of external feelings, such as passion and extreme desires. Here we will provide you the definition of Stoicism.

The Stoic school was created by Zeno of Citius, in the city of Athens, around 300 BC, but the doctrine was effectively known when it arrived in Rome. Its central theme held that the entire universe would be governed by a divine and rational natural law .

Thus, for human beings to achieve true happiness, they should only depend on their “virtue”, that is, their knowledge and values, totally abdicating from “addiction”, considered by the Stoics as an absolute evil.

Stoicism also teaches you to keep a calm and rational mind, no matter what. It teaches that this helps humans to recognize and focus on what they can control and not to worry and accept what they cannot control .

Principles of Stoic philosophy

The principles of Stoic philosophy , which guide followers of the doctrine, are:

  • Virtue is the only good and path to happiness;
  • The person must always prioritize knowledge and act with reason;
  • Pleasure is an enemy of the sage;
  • The universe is governed by a universal natural and divine reason;
  • Attitudes are more valuable than words, that is, what is done is more important than what is said;
  • External feelings make the human being an irrational and not impartial being;
  • You should not ask why something happened in your life, but accept it without complaining, focusing only on what can be changed and controlled in that situation;
  • Act prudently and take responsibility for your actions;
  • Everything around us happens according to a law of cause and effect;
  • Life and circumstances are not idealized. The individual needs to live and accept their life as it is.

Based on these principles, it is possible to understand that a stoic person is one who does not let himself be carried away by beliefs, passions and feelings that are capable of taking away a person’s rationality when acting, such as desires, pain, fear and pleasure. That’s because these circumstances are unfounded and irrational.

The stoic person seeks to act rationally, even with these feelings. Not that the Stoic is an unfeeling individual, but he is not their prisoner.

The Teachings of Stoic Philosophy

The Stoic philosophy focuses on practical life , on everyday actions and events and on how human beings deal with these events in a rational and practical way.

According to Stoic thinking, there are things that are not under people’s control and there are things that are possible to be controlled. In this case, on what is not possible to control, like the weather, for example, there is nothing that can be done to change its state .

Philosophy teachings, such as ataraxia , self-sufficiency , denial of external feelings and coping with problems through reason, aim to show that the individual should focus only on what is possible to control, to be grateful for what is already possess and deny extreme pleasures and emotions.

According to Stoic philosophy, events beyond your control cannot bring you happinessHappiness depends solely on the events you can control.

The main teachings of Stoic philosophy are:


The focus of the Stoic philosophy is the achievement of happiness through ataraxia, an ideal of tranquility in which it is possible to live serenely and with peace of mind.

For the Stoics, the individual could only achieve this happiness through his own virtues, that is, his knowledge.


Self-sufficiency is one of the main goals of the Stoics. This is because stoicism preaches that each being must live according to its nature, that is, it must act responsibly with what happens in its own life.

Therefore, as a rational being, human beings must make use of their own virtues in order to achieve their greatest purpose: happiness.

Denial of external feelings

The Stoics consider that external feelings (passion, lust, etc.) are harmful to human beings, as they make them stop being impartial and become irrational.

All these feelings are seen as addictions and as the cause of absolute evils that compromise decision-making and the organization of thoughts in a logical and intelligent way.

Facing problems through reason

In the quest for a peaceful and happy life, the Stoic philosophy holds that all external factors that compromise moral and intellectual perfection must be ignored.

Even in adversity, in problematic or difficult situations, people must always choose to react calmly, calmly and rationally, without letting external factors compromise their capacity for judgment and action.

Differences between Stoicism and Epicureanism

Epicureanism was also an ancient Greek philosophical school, founded between 341 to 270 BC, by Epicurus. This philosophical doctrine believed that the individual only achieves peace and tranquility if he finds the absence of pain.

While Stoicism teaches that one must use reason, deny earthly pleasures and accept pains and problems, dealing only with what can be controlled, Epicureanism preaches that individuals should seek moderate pleasures to reach a state of tranquility and freedom from ache.

However, the pleasures cannot be exaggerated, as they can present disturbances that make it difficult to find serenity, happiness and bodily health.

Meanwhile, Stoicism, contrary to Epicureanism, preaches that the pursuit of happiness lies in the elimination of pleasures and rational actions under any circumstance.

Epicureanism, in turn, is materialistic. It does not understand that the universe has a natural rational order, there is no universal reason that governs the entire universe, of which the human soul is a part.

Meanwhile, Stoicism believes that the universe is governed by a natural and divine order.

Top 4 Stoic Philosophers

Zeno of Citium

Zeno was the founding philosopher of Stoicism. Born on the island of Cyprus, he was the creator of the Stoic school.

The meaning of life is to be in accord with nature.

Marco Aurelio

Marcus Aurelius was a powerful Roman emperor who followed Stoicism during his 19-year reign. He was known for his peace and tranquility, even in the midst of the problems faced by his kingdom, facing circumstances in a rational way.

He compiled his thoughts and conclusions about life in a book called, Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.

A phrase by Marco Aurélio that sums up Stoic thought well is:

“The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.”


The second greatest reference of Stoicism was Epictetus, who was born as a slave and, throughout his life, founded his own Stoic school, teaching some very influential people in Rome, among which the Emperor Marcus Aurelius himself.

His teachings are compiled in the book Manual of Epictetus. One of the phrases of the philosopher who explains the Stoic doctrine was:

“Delete from thee desires and fears, and thou shalt have nothing to tyrannize thee.”


Tutor and advisor to the famous Roman Emperor Nero, Seneca was also a great politician and writer. As a philosopher, he was one of the main representatives of Stoicism in the Roman Empire.

His thoughts and teachings have been compiled in a few books, the main one being Letters of a Stoic. One of his most famous phrases was:

“Sometimes even living is an act of courage.”

The 3 Phases of Stoicism

Stoicism is divided into three main periods: ethical (old), eclectic (middle) and religious (recent).

Phase 1

The so-called ancient or ethical Stoicism was lived by the founder of the doctrine, Zeno of Cicio (333 to 262 BC), and was concluded by Crisipo de Solunte (280 to 206 BC), who would have developed the Stoic doctrine and transformed it into the model that it is. known today.

Level 2

In the middle or eclectic Stoicism, the movement began to spread among the Romans, being the main motivator for the introduction of Stoicism in the Roman society Panethius of Rhodes (185 to 110 BC).

The most striking feature of this period, however, was the eclecticism that the doctrine suffered from the absorption of thoughts by Plato and Aristotle. Posidonius of Apaméia (135 BC to 50 AD) was responsible for this mixture.

Stage 3

Finally, the third phase of Stoicism is known as religious or recent. Members of this period saw philosophical doctrine not as part of a science, but as a religious and priestly practice. The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius was one of the main representatives of religious Stoicism.

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