Stocism is Overrated

I saw this going viral The Joys of Being a Stoic

Over the past four or so years there has been considerable interest stoicism, especially online, and articles about the befits of stoicism frequently go viral. Maybe it is in response to coping with Trump; who knows. People are always looking for self-help and the “one simple fix” that will make their lives better. Ryan Holiday has made a lot of money selling books about stoicism, as evidently there is a lot of interest in the subject. Although stoicism is often lumped in as a philosophy, being that it offers no epistemological or ontological insights into the world, is not really a philosophy but rather is more like-self help, as it is prescriptive rather than descriptive.

The author asks, “If there is nothing you can do about a particular situation, why beat yourself up about it?” If we’re all going to die, which is the ultimate fate of everyone, why do anything? The problem with stoicism is it is a dead end and it creates unrealistic expectations. There is more to stoicism than detaching oneself from things that cannot be controlled, but that is the aspect of stoicism that people seem to be alluding to most when they talk about being a stoic or stoicism. Ideally, people would not worry so much about things outside of their control, but that is not how people work, because people who have a stake in things going a certain way, would prefer it to go that way. People who want Trump to win, would prefer that he does; likewise, the same for Biden voters, even if Neither Trump nor Biden influence their lives directly. Otherwise why bother trying if you have no control over the outcome. Much of modern scientific progress hinges on people trying to control their environment, such as treating disease. Should we just give up on that. Theo only way things change is if people care enough to do something about it.

Another problem with stoicism is that people who are successful will attribute their success to stoicism, but that is confusing cause and effect. A successful person will take up stoicism and then attribute their success to it.

Stoicism as behavior (to be a stoic), imho, is not something to be emulated. Even if stoicism is popular online, I think at times it comes across as aloof, dismissive, or snobby to ‘be above the fray.’ To use myself as an example, I do not care that much about the outcome of the 2020 election. I am not emotionally invested in the outcome, but many are. Would I prefer Trump win? Yeah. Was there fraud? Probably. Do I care enough to investigate it further? No, as either outcome does not affect me much, and I have more important uses for my time on things I can control. But I see this dismissiveness as defect on my part and not something to be emulated. You should care. Evil thrives when people do not care. If there was fraud, it needs to be investigated.