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Virtue is Strength

If you had to define virtue in one word it would be “strength.” In English we use the same root word when we say virility. Virility means a special kind of power. So does virtue.

The Stoic School teaches that strength is a good thing. This is basic to human nature and Nature in general. Nature rewards the strongest in a species with survival and progeny. Nature is a place of struggle. The earth is a place where all animals must exert constant activity to live and must exercise great strength to get ahead. Those who lose their energy fall behind and perish. 

Human society also rewards athletes of great strength or speed. You don’t find yourself wishing you were weaker, do you? 

But, the Stoic School teaches about a strength more powerful than muscles.

First, think about an army. History shows that the most athletic soldiers do not always win. A smaller army with better strategy and equipment often defeats a larger force. Why? Second, a runner or boxer who has beaten a certain opponent previously might lose to him during the Olympics because the opponent trained harder and kept a stricter diet. Third, a weaker army can rout a greater one when the stronger flees the battle field.  Fourth, The ancient play The Suppliants by Euripides illustrates a special kind of power. In the play, the women have no physical power to retrieve the bodies of their dead loved ones who were killed in a battle, because the victors wanted them to rot in the open and be eaten by animals, so what mysterious strength empowered the mothers, wives, and daughters to win?

Our cultural grandparents called the first kind of strength “Wisdom,” the second “Temperance,” the third “Courage,” and the fourth “Justice.”

1) Wisdom is “being smart,” “thinking things through,” “making good decisions.” 

2) Temperance is self-control, self-discipline, and the ability to choose the difficult path that is good rather than the easy paths that are bad.

3) Courage means fortitude, bravery in the face of danger and pain, and risking personal safety, wealth, and reputation in the interest of something more noble.

4) Justice is doing the right thing, recognizing a higher morality than even human laws, and successfully harmonizing with Nature rather than only reading and talking about it.

The Stoic School teaches that the purpose of human life is Virtue. 

Even in human society, Nature requires constant energy to live, to be healthy, to be wise, to control yourself, to be brave, and to be fair to all.

An evidence that Nature intends mankind to be virtuous is that Nature gave humanity the potential for all these strengths. We know of no other creatures with the potential to develop the four Cardinal Virtues as we mean them here. Nature has attributes that can only be understood by those who practice wisdom, temperance, courage, and justice. We live in Nature more and more only as we grow in Virtue more and more. 

Another indication that Virtue is our purpose in life is that virtues bind us in stronger friendship with our fellow citizens, our friends, and our family. We are political animals. Nature provides no other species with a social structure anything like human society. There are no other species with commerce, technology, musical instruments, clothing, conversations, etc. anything like human society. But, along with our need to socialize in our uniquely human way, we see that virtue is what binds us together in the bonds of good faith necessary to produce thriving human societies. Individuals who practice Virtue are bound with their friends in stronger bonds of friendship and are praiseworthy among their countrymen. Those who practice vice suffer in their public and private relationships.

We call Wisdom, Temperance, Courage, and Justice the Cardinal Virtues. They remind us of the cardinal directions North, South, East, and West. With only four directions you can get from wherever you are to wherever you need to be in two-dimensional space.  In life, you need a different dimension of directions – virtues.

With the Cardinal Virtues, you can get from any circumstance you are in to where you need to be. The four virtues form a coordinate system that surely navigates you through your entire life, with “magnetic north” being the Good. Whatever crisis or reversal befalls you, the way to maintain happiness and to get where you need to be is always a combination of these four virtues.

The mother of all the virtues is Gratitude. All virtues are a combination of Wisdom, Temperance, Courage, and Justice, and those Cardinal Virtues come from Gratitude. Wisdom, Temperance, Courage, and Justice are the natural response to gratitude for what Nature has done for us, what our friends have done for us, and what our country has done for us.

Providence Analysis Level 2

Providence Analysis Level 2


The Base Matrix of Providence


Kelly Kinkade



One of the most important doctrines of Stoic epistemology is that knowing anything accurately (epignosis, which is used often as a euphemism for sex) means we must determine its four Causes. This is Level 1 of knowing a thing. Then, we must determine the Four Causes of each of the Level 1 Causes. This is Level 2 knowledge. Learning the Four Causes of each of the Level 2 Causes is Level 3 knowledge. This pattern of Stoic epistemology continues but NOT ad infinitum.

Currently, nothing has been discovered by man that goes beyond Level 7 analysis. Generally, the more important a topic, the fewer Levels of Knowledge it requires. This is part of what the School calls Providence. As Scholarch Michael IV discovered, it means Nature has made the most important things the easiest to learn. Minor things are knowable as well, but they appeal to analytical people and the analyses increase geometrically. So, Nature “provides” for the practical as well as the analytical and the theoretical. And, “provides” is the basis for Providence.

This part of Stoic epistemology makes the Stoic School the only school that answers and examines systematically the Socratic theme of knowing what you do not know. By Stoic School analysis, anyone can identify immediately what they know and what they do not know about anything. The Stoic School has discovered the only epistemology that leads anyone to learn what they do not know and mentors them to know more accurately what they already know about anything. This is a game changer in personal life and is the key to successful debate and persuasion, because it is an advanced level of seeing the weaknesses or incompleteness of an opponent’s argument as well as another’s motivations and personal epistemology.

If we accept what the Oracle said about Socrates regarding, ‘No one is wiser, because he knows what he does not know,’ Then, we must conclude that currently, ‘No epistemology is wiser than the Stoic School’s, because it identifies what anyone KNOWS and identifies what they do not know.’ The Stoic School’s epistemology greatly accelerates creativity and innovation. This is because it quickly reveals what any person does not know and how to complete his knowledge.

Our several epistemology levels can be grouped into states that correspond to Plato’s stages in The Cave. The Stoic School epistemology, however, is more nuanced and precise from an analytical standpoint. Our method is easier to use in calculations of knowledge regarding where we are ignorant and where we know something accurately. Level 0 is when the prisoners have not connected the impressions in front of them. They have not seen patterns of shapes and sounds. Everything is Chaos. Level 1 is when they connect the shadow of a horse to the sound of a horse. Level 2 is when they break free of the chains. Level 3 is when they see the puppets. Level 4 is when they connect the puppets to the corresponding shadows. Level 5 is when they exit the cave and have pain in their eyes. Level 6 is when they connect the realities to the corresponding puppets and shadows. Level 7 is when they see the Good.

Let’s apply Stoic School analysis to Providence. We will go to Level 2 knowledge. In the School, Level 2 is the basic level of knowledge of a thing; Level 0 is chaos, and we consider Level 1, if accurate, to be Inquiry, not Knowing. If students continue training in the Stoic School, they will see that Providence goes to Level 4. When you try Level 5, everything approaches zero or infinity. As you will start to see below, Virtue approaches zero (it is an end in itself) at Level 2 Part 1 for Providence. The rest of the Causes quickly follow suit or approach infinity in the next couple levels. When this happens, it means you have accurate knowledge of a thing at the intellectual level and must go to the Training Tables Analysis to continue progressing in Stoicism.

So, this is what Stoic analysis reveals about Providence, one of the most important concepts.


The Final Cause of Providence is Virtue. The Formal Cause of Providence is Logos. The Material Cause of Providence is Cosmos. The Efficient Cause of Providence is Vibrations. This yields this Level 1 Knowledge Table:

Pr Table 1

Final               Virtue

Formal            Logos

Material          Cosmos

Efficient         Vibrations

Now let’s build the Level 2 Knowledge Table.

The Final Cause of Virtue is zero – it is an end in itself. The Formal Cause of Virtue is Logos. The Material Cause of Virtue is Reason in and Reason out. The Efficient Cause of Virtue is Cosmos. This yields this Level 2 Knowledge Table Part 1 for Providence:

Pr Table 2 Part 1

Final               0 – it is an end in itself

Formal            Logos

Material          Reason in and Reason out

Efficient          Cosmos

The Final Cause of Logos is Providence. The Formal Cause of Logos is the Good. The Material Cause of Logos is Cosmos. The Efficient Cause of Logos is Vibrations. This yields this Level 2 Knowledge Table Part 2 for Providence:

Pr Table 2 Part 2

Final               Providence

Formal            the Good, the Formal Cause of which is NFI                             (none, a form in itself)

Material          Cosmos

Efficient          Vibrations

The Final Cause of Cosmos is Conflagration. The Formal Cause of Cosmos is Providence. The Material Cause of Cosmos is Vibrations. The Efficient Cause of Cosmos is Logos. This yields this Level 2 Knowledge Table Part 3 for Providence:

Pr Table 2 Part 3

Final               Conflagration

Formal            Providence

Material          Vibrations

Efficient           Logos

The Final Cause of Vibrations is Cosmos. The Formal Cause of Vibrations is Spermatikos. The Material Cause of Vibrations is Logos. The Efficient Cause of Vibrations is the Good. This yields this Level 2 Knowledge Table Part 4 for Providence:

Pr Table 2 Part 4

Final               Cosmos

Formal            Spermatikos

Material          Logos

Efficient         Good

It is easy to see that Logos is a function of Providence. We also notice that Conflagration is critical to all things having to do with Cosmos, because it is the Final Cause of Cosmos, which is the Material Cause of Logos. Therefore, Conflagration is instrumental in understanding Logos and Providence.

Conflagration, the Final Cause of the Material Cause of Providence

Conflagration is the essence of matter. This makes it inseparable from reason or Reason. The essence of Conflagration is plasma. Plasma, being the essence of Conflagration, is that part of Divine Nature, which we can perceive or manipulate.

When you plug in or unplug an electrical cord, you can see a spark. That spark is a view of plasma, the shadow of Divine Nature, or the Conflagration. Stars are massive centers of the Divine Nature, because they produce all the Cosmos’s elements via plasma. Zeus’s thunderbolts, or lightning, are another visible testimony of Conflagration. The Conflagration repeatedly reorders all matter according to Logos, and it generated us. As Carl Sagan wrote in his book Cosmos, "We are a way for the universe to know itself. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star stuff.”

NASA has studied the Sun and found many proofs of Stoic doctrines regarding stars. A recent example is the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager. According to NASA, “It can sense acoustic waves moving through the Sun and turn those waves into a clear image of the interior.” Waves are vibrations, and ALL is vibrations.

According to NASA, “Shifting mass in the sun sends pressure waves rippling through its interior. These p modes bounce around inside the sun, causing the star to ring like an enormous bell.” Many academics enjoy looking down at our doctrine of the Music of the Spheres as outdated, Cave-Manish, and forgivably naïve, while they say with the other side of their mouth that vibrations make the Sun, “Ring like an enormous bell.” The fact of the matter is, the Stoic School saw this clearly without the need for the modern Coke-bottle spectacles of telescopes and space probes. Stoics ask, “Who has better vision?”

So, sparks, lightning, and stars give us a glimpse of Conflagration in a way that is sufficient for us to reason about its role in Providence. Plato’s Republic saw our star as the Good by which all other things benefit. Our star allows us to see, live, exist, and move. Everything around us began in a stellar furnace. The result eventually led to heavy metals and the rest of the Periodic Table. For us, this determined the gravity on Earth, our weather, and everything we need to do to survive and thrive. This is Providence. This provides all our needs. We cannot change it, and we defy it at our peril. For example, those in altered states of mind sometimes believe they can fly. They end up jumping to their death, because they defied the Providential law of gravity. Another example is those who have anorexia. They believe eating a good diet is damaging. They often die of complications from malnutrition, because they defy the Providential laws of biology. The Cosmos in which we live determines much of what we must do to survive and thrive. But, Cosmos is only the Material Cause of Providence.

Providence also has a nature that we can apprehend. We can see sparks and so on with our senses. We can understand the mathematics that govern stars. We can study various stars according to their spectral fingerprints. This is all vibrations. We have a kinship with the stars; we are made of “star stuff,” and we know stars as no other creature can. These vibrations lead to gravity, light, time, and us. Vibrations are the Efficient Cause of Providence.

But what is the End of Providence? Virtue. This is where we have a special noblesse oblige with the little pieces of Conflagration currently in the Cosmos, the stars and electricity. The Final Cause of man and Providence is Virtue, because man is the crown of the Cosmos, since we are the only thing of the Cosmos able to understand the Cosmos. The Cosmos made it so.

Finally, what is the Formal Cause of Providence? It is Universal Reason. In other words, the Formal Cause of Providence is Logos. The origin of the Cosmos was not simply a big bang. It was an overture, conducted by Logos, for a Cosmic Opera leading up to a dramatic finale. When we consider things such as gravity, aerodynamics, biology, etc., we see more clearly the identity of Providence. First, it is beneficent. It provides everything we need to thrive, and it rewards the wise and strong. We cannot change Providence; it is sovereign over us. Nevertheless, we can see it clearly enough to see the invisible qualities of Virtue that man needs in order to prosper. Second, Providence is severe. If we work against it, we damage ourselves quickly. There is no jury trial or appeal process. Third, Providence gives man great leeway. It is not a tyrant. We learn about science, ourselves, and building the best society through Providence’s unyielding sovereignty. If we want to build the fastest aircraft, we cannot build it the way we might want; we must build it the way Providence rewards. Regardless of what we might prefer, Providence determined at the beginning of the Cosmos what the ideal fast aircraft must be. This is the part of Plato’s Forms that was rightly reasoned. This is the same if we want to build an aircraft that will carry the most people, or the most fuel-efficient car, or how to attain the greatest happiness, etc. This shows Providence’s benevolence, because we do not have to make the ideal aircraft for a particular purpose to improve in that purpose as a society. We can still fly fast, for example, even if we have made an inefficient design. Providence is the part of Nature that has strict boundaries as well as great freedom and forbearance within those boundaries. Several Scholarchs have called Providence that which “child-proofs” the Cosmos for man.

The Molecule of Providence

Hydrogen and Oxygen are extremely flammable. After electrolyzing water into Hydrogen and Oxygen, chemistry instructors will ignite the resulting pure elements. Applying heat to either gas is explosive. However, putting these two explosive elements together in a ratio of 2 to 1 results in water, which we use to put out fires. Nature’s irony makes molecules of elements react in non-intuitive ways.

Similarly, at the elemental level, Sodium is poisonous to man, and Chlorine is poisonous to us. Yet, Nature’s irony makes the combination of Sodium Chloride NECESSARY for human life.

In like manner, the elements of Providence are Virtue, Logos, Cosmos, and Vibrations. Each element has its own nature. When joined together, however, they form the Providence molecule with ironic and non-intuitive results.

Providence Base Matrix

Putting Providence into Standard Form (Final Cause, Formal Cause, Material Cause, Efficient Cause) yields Virtue, Logos, Cosmos, Vibrations (VrLgCsVb). Now, we have Providence in a form that is useful for calculations.

Putting each of the Causes of Providence into Standard Form yields this Providence Molecule, as shown in the following Providence Base Matrix:

Lg3Cs3Pr2 Gd2Vb2CfRrSpVr

Pr Base Matrix

Virtue             Α (Vr or 0)    Lg                    RR                  Cs

Logos             Pr                    Ω (Gd or ∞)   Cs                    Vb

Cosmos         Cf                    Pr                    Vb                    Lg

Vibrations      Cs                    Sp                    Lg                    Ω (Gd or ∞)  

1)         Notice position one is alpha (Virtue or 0) and position 16 is omega (Good or ∞).

2)         Next, Logos (Lg) jumps from column 2 in row 1 (position 2) to column 4 in row 3 (position 12), then it regresses to column 3 in row 4 (position 15).

3)         There is also regression of Cosmos (Cs) from position 4 to 7 to 13.

4)         Finally, there is progression of Providence (Pr) itself from position 5 to 10.

These observations indicate:

1.         Providence permeates all and leads to the Good. It is complete in itself. It does not require man but does incorporate man. It is not a thing under our control.

2.         Universal Reason is dynamic in Providence, and we have a great deal of freedom in our interaction with it. We can resist it, or we can harmonize with it, or we can be ignorant of it and passively let it act upon us without our awareness, or we can do any mixture of the three. Nevertheless, the only course that leads to our benefit (the Good) is harmony with Logos in good times and in reversals.

3.         Providence is changeable. This is its major difference from unyielding Fate.

4.         This is the signature of what the School calls the “child-proofing” of the Cosmos. Providence is very forgiving to humanity, unlike physical laws. When we see this, it is always because humanity has a special endowment from Nature of a sharing in the Universal Reason. Providence is “kind” (agape) to all in the Cosmos, but it is fond (storge and philia which lead to eros, culminating in spermatikos) of mankind. We can be kith and kin to it, because we alone can understand it. Some of us willingly harmonize with it.

This is sufficient to explain Level 2 Knowledge of Providence.


Sources:           AmericanJournalOfPhysics-35-9-7-9, Annals-20-1-6-1, Annual-14-8-15, Boethius-2-0-0-5, CERN-1-3-2-3, JournalOfTheKoreanPhysicalSociety-52-18-3-4, KalerJamesB-1-2-1-1, Magnetohydrodynamics-7-4-13-96, NASA-5-3-3-6, NASA-5-3-5-1, PlasmaTheFourthStateOfMatter-17-5-FrankKamenetskii,DavidA-72-8-7-2, Quarterly-10-2-McIntyre-12, ReviewsOfModernPhysics-21-94-1-4, Sagan-8-4-8-7, Scholarch-CXXV-2-2-7-0, Scholarchs-96-12-2-25, StoicLabs-2013-3-5-12, StoicLabs-2012-8-15-17, TheAstrophysicalJournel-40-33-1-9.

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