(Opinion) Stoicism as practical Philosophy

(Opinion) Stoicism as practical Philosophy.

Stoicism is a practical philosophy; it is not about how much you know, it is about what you do practically, with your knowledge, as Marcus Aurelius said: “Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Just Be one.”

You should have a goal in everything you do. and use your possible means to attain it. accumulated knowledge without applying is completely wasting of time and energy. 

So everything you do should be an attainable goal for moral or physical development.

“Characteristics of the rational soul: Self-perception, self-examination, and the power to make of itself whatever it wants. It reaps its own harvest. It reaches its intended goal, no matter where the limit of its life is set. No matter which task you pick-it has fulfilled its mission, done its work completely.  So that it can say, ‘I have what I came for.’” — 
Marcus Aurelius

Personally, I think if we want to imitate nature, we should follow its rules such as Cause and Effect and evolution, etc.we should use virtue as one of the means, not a goal in itself. the goal is continuous development; happiness is in progress, not tranquility because Tranquility is a result of our progress. not an end in itself.  

this way we can make our life a challenge to be a better version of ourselves morally and physically. every day, attack not only defend.  following the wisdom of the Stoics to change our lives. not to make ourselves just a reaction.

Freewill can not be approved or denied by Science. even asking if we have free will or not, it is some hint that we have some kind of Freewill, if we agree with Epictetus that the goal of life is freedom. then we should fight for it. not to be like someone waiting for a punch to react. we should use courage, wisdom, and knowledge to evolve. Does courage come from logic or from emotion? so we have to use our positive emotions to develop. 

Ancient Stoics believed that there is no evil or good outside of our self. all are appearances, not reality; so we are the center of the world. without our perception, there will never be any existing universe for us. so we should make the best use of what we have now to develop, even small progress can make difference.

The negativity of accepting providence could make us like passive victims. How can you know something is impossible unless you try? 

With  determination and clear purposes  and obtainable means and isolation of other causes that are against our purpose, we can be able to develop and imitate nature in evolving, 

"Just because something is hard to master, do not think it is humanly impossible, but, if a thing is humanly possible, consider it within your reach."
Marcus Aurelius

Things we can control and others that are outside our dichotomy of Control

We can control our thoughts, our perception, our goals, our reaction to what happens to us, our positive approach towards "what fate binds us.", etc.  we can not control death, disease, betrayal from a friend, or near people, etc.

Can an Atheist follow Stoicism?

First of all, We have to distinguish between the Abrahamic god and the god of the philosophers. since the philosophical theism "is the belief that the Supreme Being exists (or must exist) independent of the teaching or revelation of any particular religion. It represents the belief in God entirely without doctrine,"  something similar to Thomas Pain's Deism.

Epictetus said is his Discourses:" a ship ought not to be held by one anchor, nor life by a single hope. You may fetter my leg, but my will not even Zeus himself can overpower".

So Zeus or Apollo can not harm us or benefit us. There is no afterlife; nor Heaven or Hell in Ancient Philosophers' Thesim. and Marcus Aurelius seemed indifferent about gods when he said " Providence or Atoms".

 So, the answer is yes, most famous modern stoics as atheist or agnostic. 

Personally, I use the Universe instead of gods since I do not believe in Providence.

Stoicism Strength is based on its Psychology and Practicality. 

The accumulation of knowledge made us know more about the Universe more than the ancient world had known , they followed the science of their era; regarding Logic, Physics, and gods. If Ancient Stoics were living today, their knowledge Would change drastically, but probably, their psychology will be the same, because human nature did not change,

So your knowledge should not be limited to one branch of knowledge, you should be open-minded to modern science and applied Psychology. and always have a goal in your career and try to do the best to make it.

“Don't explain your philosophy. Embody it.” ― Epictetus

Stoicism, Epicureanism, and other useful practical Knowledge.

“Apply them constantly, to everything that happens: Physics. Ethics. Logic.” 
—Marcus Aurelius

All roads lead to Rome, there is much great wisdom in Epicurus, Seneca used his sayings and admired them. Epicureanism and Stoicism had the same goal which is freedom. they are similar philosophies. Marcus Aurelius told us to apply what we learn against the obstacle we may face in our daily life. so it is necessary for gaining wisdom to learn practical knowledge which helps us progress and be stronger. so whatever develops you, it is good, and if it is good, you should do it.

Epictetus states: "In a word, neither death, nor exile, nor pain, nor anything of this kind is the real cause of our doing or not doing any action, but our inward opinions and principles."
*Book I, ch. 6.

Epicurus said:
"Luxurious food and drinks, in no way, protect you from harm. Wealth beyond what is natural is no more use than an overflowing container. The real value is not generated by theaters, and baths, perfumes, or ointments, but by philosophy."

*From the esplanade wall at Oenoanda, now in Turkey, as recorded by Diogenes of Oenoanda.

Do whatever makes you a better version of yourself,  you should make the best use of what you know and apply it to yourself and to your life.;wisdom without using is nothing.

Be Practical with your friends 

We all need friends, but one friend can do for you more damage than ten enemies, you do not need to treat others with cold feelings and mistrust them. but it is better not to have a friend who does not uplift you.who does not help you be better.if you decide to make real friends, be ready to trust them like you trust yourself. it is possible but rare. read what Seneca said in his letters:

" If you consider any man a friend whom you do not trust as you trust yourself, you are mightily mistaken and you do not sufficiently understand what true friendship means… When friendship is settled, you must trust; before friendship is formed, you must pass judgment. Those persons indeed put last first and confound their duties, who … judge a man after they have made him their friend, instead of making him their friend after they have judged him. Ponder for a long time whether you shall admit a given person to your friendship; but when you have decided to admit him, welcome him with all your heart and soul. Speak as boldly with him as with yourself… Regard him as loyal and you will make him loyal."

From my experience, I can say if your friend is an addict or has a weak personality, he will be likely to betray you or drag you to his level. It does not mean to be alone but make sure you make the right friend, Listen to Epictetus:

“Above all, keep a close watch on this— that you are never so tied to your former acquaintances and friends that you are pulled down to their level. If you don’t, you’ll be ruined. . . . You must choose whether to be loved by these friends and remain the same person or to become a better person at the cost of those friends . . . if you try to have it both ways you will neither make progress nor keep what you once had.” 

Is Money Indifferent?

Though money is not the most important thing in life. Nowadays, we can not say it is indifferent, in the past, life was easier relatively, you can move easily to another place. you do not pay rent or bills, you could live in a Tent or small house you build yourself. and you can go fishing and hunting.

Now, without money, it is hard to live, everything around you requires money. you will be in mental pressure especially if you are married or having children.

Money is not good in itself but it can make you relatively free in our capitalist society, since the lack of money may make a good man commit immoral things against nature, such as accepting bribery or be a coward towards oppression.

Wisdom is the most important thing but money is a catalyst that can help you be independent and free . as Ibn Khaldoun Said "Poverty in Home is like an exile, and Exile with money abroad is like a home"

Money should be an essential goal. because our sublime goal should be freedom end progress, and freedom and progress require wisdom and other helpful factors.

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(Opinion) Stoicism as practical Philosophy
Stoicism is a practical philosophy; it is not about how much you know, it is about what you do practically, as Marcus Aurelius said: “Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Just Be one.”
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