Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC. The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and the active relationship between cosmic determinism and human freedom, and the belief that it is virtuous to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is in accord with nature.

Because of this, the Stoics presented their philosophy as a way of life, and they thought that the best indication of an individual’s philosophy was not what a person said but how that person behaved. To live a good life, one had to understand the rules of the natural order since they taught that everything was rooted in nature.

Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions. The philosophy holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to understand the universal reason. Stoics aim to be free from anger, envy, and jealousy.

The Stoics propounded that knowledge can be attained through the use of reason. Truth can be distinguished from fallacy – even if, in practice, only an approximation can be made.

The Stoics did not seek to extinguish emotions; rather, they sought to transform them by a resolute ‘askēsis’ that enables a person to develop clear judgment and inner calm. Logic, reflection, and concentration were the methods of such self-discipline.

The four cardinal virtues of the Stoic philosophy is a classification derived from the teachings of Plato: wisdom (Sophia), courage (Andreia), justice (Dikaiosyne), and temperance (Sophrosyne).


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