Why Stoicism

From Medium: The Inadequacies of the Invincible–On the Failure of Stoic Ethics

Stoicism is not perfect–no philosophy is–but it works because it’s practical and realistic (wouldn’t it be awesome if one could make society conform to their own expectations, at whim–oh wait, Stalin tried that–apparently, when one tries to impose their values, it means others must cooperate). Stoicism just another tool in the proverbial self-help toolbox that can be deployed when needed.

The rise of Stoicism™ is a sign of a civilization in decline. There is something decadent about a society trying to escape its own loss through a sour grapes philosophy. Let us face reality. The answer isn’t in the flick of the mind. We could come together with our friends— decide what we require of each other — and turn back the tide of decline.

Given that civilization and stoicism have existed for nearly 2,000 years, why now is it worse than any other time. The article cites stagnation of wages and technology–but we’re talking millennia here. Stagnant wages have always existed in one form or another, but the world has carried on. Compered to great turmoils of the past–The Plague, Smallpox, Spanish Flu, and the fall of Rome–to name a handful–we should be grateful our present problems, relatively speaking, are so small. Stoicism is about perspective, in understanding this.

Stoicism shares similarities with rationalism, from Wiki:

The Stoics held that all being (ὄντα) – though not all things (τινά) – is material. They accepted the distinction between concrete bodies and abstract ones, but rejected Aristotle’s belief that purely incorporeal being exists. Thus, they accepted Anaxagoras’ idea (as did Aristotle) that if an object is hot, it is because some part of a universal heat body had entered the object. But, unlike Aristotle, they extended the idea to cover all accidents. Thus if an object is red, it would be because some part of a universal red body had entered the object.

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. According to the Stoics, the senses constantly receive sensations: pulsations that pass from objects through the senses to the mind, where they leave an impression in the imagination (phantasia) (an impression arising from the mind was called a phantasma).[16]

For the Stoics, reason meant not only using logic, but also understanding the processes of nature—the logos, or universal reason, inherent in all things. Living according to reason and virtue, they held, is to live in harmony with the divine order of the universe, in recognition of the common reason and essential value of all people.

This is similar to the rationalism of Descartes, Leibniz and Spinoza, in contrast to empiricists such as Hume. The rise of stoicism in the lexicon of popular culture parallels the post-2013 rise of rationalism, but rationalism extends beyond just Slate Star Codex and Less Wrong: it compasses an entire mindset pervasive among many young people, but at the same time so is authenticity, which is related to existentialism. This may seem contradictory, but it’s reconciled by ‘becoming yourself’ in the existentialist sense, but within reason. So this means accepting one’s limitations, coping with mediocrity, and not being an overbearing activist who shoves their values down everyone’s throats (this also agrees with post-2013 collapse of SJW movement).