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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.

On the sexes/genders

- by Cicero

The Stoic School keeps getting questions about the Stoic view of the transgender issue and the differences between the sexes/genders. This concept is important to all Stoics, because we teach that wisdom and happiness come from living in harmony with Nature. So, for the Stoic School, the issue is simply whether or not Nature made the sexes distinct and whether or not gender comes from Nature or is a social construct that is fluid. It is time for the West to consider what Nature tells us about the sexes/genders once and for all.

First, remember that we are not talking about homosexuality or lesbianism where two partners still identify as the same sex. This article addresses the issue of gender fluidity. Western civilization has a history of homosexuality; it is not a new phenomenon. For example, many Spartans were openly homosexual, but all parties still identified with their biological sex.

Second, remember that indelible differences between the sexes do not mean inequality.

Biology

  • First of all, something very different happens to males and females in the womb as the embryo develops. Males have an X chromosome and a Y chromosome, while females have two X chromosomes. According to the School, this means there is a fundamental difference in what we call the Formal Cause between the sexes, and this causes a difference in the Efficient Cause between the sexes. It is analogous to how a difference in two blueprints will cause a difference in how the two houses are built. What this means is that the embryos develop (or are built) very differently in important ways.
  • Forensic scientists have found small specs of DNA at crime scenes and scientifically proved whether the suspect was male or female regardless of which he identified with. None of this changes by human will. To prove it, try it to see if you can change your X or Y. Your natural sex is clearly visible even when you are not around.
  • The increased Testosterone in males makes a huge difference. Simply look at the athletic world records and see if there are any differences between male and female. This difference in athleticism leads to very different life experiences, which shape who we are.
  • Statistically, females carry 100% of human babies. Many women enjoy reminding men that they will never understand what it is like to be a woman and to carry a baby and give birth. Well, there you go; they admit there is a fundamental difference between the sexes that is not fluid.
  • Statistically, females nurse 100% of human babies that are nursed. A male identifying as a female that can nurse a baby will lead to the baby going hungry. That is another life experience that men do not care to experience and couldn't if they wanted to, regardless of which psychiatric hospital they moved into after being arrested for child abuse and possibly pedophilia.

Consumer Behavior

  • For some reason, double-blinded studies of many nations indicate that nearly 100% of Tampons are bought for women. Male wrestlers and boxers sometimes use them to deal with bloody noses, so they can continue fighting. Women place them differently and for different reasons and more regularly in a mystical harmony with the phases of the moon. This results in a very unusual Bell Curve with a standard deviation of zero that looks kind of like a straight vertical line. The implications of this are dramatically different life experiences between the sexes, which are impossible to change by simply identifying as the other gender. Just ask any man that has tried it and suffered irreparable harm to his person.
  • Other double-blinded studies over many years around the globe show that only women choose doctors that are gynecologists. Again, the best scientific data in these ongoing studies result in a standard deviation of zero and look like a straight vertical line. This means women face a host of problems that distinguish them from men. Health experiences mold a person’s outlook on life, their lifestyle, and even their emotions day after day.
  • Also, recent research reveals that it is more excruciating for men than women to douche. Again, studies including nearly eight billion participants results in a standard deviation of zero that graphs like a straight vertical line. This might be the number one reason men avoid this practice while women do not. Again, what benefits a woman causes irreparable harm to a man identifying as a woman. Is Nature telling us gender is fluid or not fluid?

Psychological Considerations

  • Women generally have more aversion to violence than men. One indication is violent crime statistics. Also, men have been almost 100% of the cause and method of wars. Even if we include Helen of Troy, the war was carried out by men, even though she was a rare example of a woman being the cause. This is because Nature is pretty violent. So Nature made one of the sexes view violence as a type of competition. Remember, animals eat one another alive and Nature rewards those that excel in this. It is deceptively difficult to argue that war is unnatural in this world and is in no way a good thing.
  • Generally, men want hierarchy and a clear chain of command rather than a group-hug-everybody-is-equal approach to decision making, because it is precisely what is needed in life-and-death situations.
  • Feminist movements often claim there is no difference between the sexes, yet they need a work environment that is less male. It must include "flex time," "telecommuting," maternity leave, etc. Why would the male work environment and the female environment need to be so different if there were no fundamental differences between the genders?
  • The Western educational system has changed dramatically to accommodate female learning styles, even though the claim is that there is no difference between sexes.

Perhaps the biggest difference in the nature of Western women and men is that Western women want to be more like men.

The problems in the West today are because of men, not because of what Nature made them but because of their cowardice to become what Nature made them.

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