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On Stoic Quotes

February 18, 2024

Although all of us have the gift of life, not all are good at living. Perhaps more than other philosophies of life, Stoicism gives a way to measure if one has mastered the art of life. To Seneca, the art of living comes down to what is honorable. In the same letter, he wrote, "An ordinary journey will be incomplete if you come to a stop in the middle of it, or anywhere short of your destination, but life is never incomplete if it is an honorable one." The destination of human life is honor, according to Seneca.

 

February 11, 2024

Speaking about the mind and spirit, Seneca wrote, "Only a moderate amount of work is needed for it to thrive and develop." In contrast to bodily health and material investments, work dedicated to virtue pays compounding interest with no diminishing results. The dividend we receive from wisdom and a good spirit is guaranteed, is long-term, is enormous, and costs only a small principal investment. The Stoic is the wisest of investors.

 

February 4, 2024

For non-Stoics, things outside of a person's control are often a source of anxiety or worse. But, here, Epictetus reminds us of the Stoic expression, "In the things that lie outside the sphere of choice, be confident; in the things that lie within it, be cautious." This is because, ultimately, the only evil is a bad choice. The challenge is recognizing this when fate is at work. For those who meet the challenge, the words of Epictetus are a great aid in maintaining tranquility during life's reversals.

 

January 28, 2024

In Stoicism, each person has many names in life. These names, or masks, include man or woman, brother or daughter, employer or employee, and every other relationship. These relationships bring unique duties and rewards. The brilliance of Stoicism is in seeing these masks as a tool in discerning the virtuous role we can play. According to Epictetus, we should consider the roles we play in life and decide what a virtuous person in that role would do and do the same.

 

January 21, 2024

Of the arts and faculties in general, we find none that contemplates and approves or disapproves itself. For example, a painting does not contemplate whether or not it is a masterpiece. Similarly, our faculty of hearing does not contemplate whether or not it is keen. Our power of reason is what contemplates itself and all other things whether they are excellent.

 

January 14, 2024

When it comes to practicing virtue, an excess in learning can become a vice. The Stoic emphasizes action, the practice of virtue. This attitude moderates the Stoic's acquisition of knowledge. With a purpose-based approach to learning, the Stoic often has a more directed and more meaningful method of self-education than practitioners of other worldviews.

 

January 7, 2024

Seneca's observation here is part of the reason Stoics believe in a providential universe. Things such as wisdom, justice, courage, and self-control are within the means of each person to acquire. This fact about the operation of the universe certainly works to the benefit of humanity. Stoicism is balanced, however, when it comes to luxuries. They are not evil in themselves. Many of them are preferred indifferents. So, it is up to each person to judge whether a luxury is worth its necessary toil and effort. But the things that cause happiness remain free.

 

December 31, 2023

With deep insight into human nature, and the grieving process in particular, Stoicism advises us to seek out someone to love. Part of the Stoic response to grief is growth in love. The result of the Stoic approach to grieving, for Seneca, is expressed in the same letter: "Let us see to it that the recollection of those we have lost becomes a pleasure to us."

 

December 24, 2023

Centuries ago, Seneca described what is now called intentionality. To Seneca, virtue is always an intentional act. Vice, however, is most often done by accident. The reason for this is most individuals pursue pleasure. According to Seneca, pleasure is a poor and petty thing. No value should be set on it. Pleasure is something we share with unreasoning animals. The Stoic, in contrast, pursues virtue over pleasure whenever there is a conflict between the two.

 

December 17, 2023

While Cynics, such as Diogenes, search unproductively for an honest man, Stoics hold a more realistic view of the world. To Epictetus, honesty is all around. So, we cannot help but hear the truth from nature and from one another. The important question is not whether we will find an honest man but simply whether we will recognize and listen to the truthful people we encounter.

 

December 10, 2023

Imagine a world where more people acted and thought as if the whole world witnessed their actions and thinking. While not sufficient for solving all social problems, application of Seneca's advice is necessary to eliminate most of what divides people today. To Seneca, each person's thoughts are publicly known in the most important way. To the Stoic, individual thoughts and actions are connected to the entire Cosmos.

 

December 3, 2023

We have all heard "an unexamined life is not worth living." When we first heard the phrase, most of us considered it to mean we should examine ourselves and live with intentionality. Epictetus, however, adds another dimension to Socrates' words. To Epictetus, the most important examination of our lives comes not from ourselves, but from those who disagree with us. In Stoicism, it is often from honest criticism we receive the kind of examination that makes life most worth living.

 

November 26, 2023

Writing about friendship, Seneca explains why "no one can lead a happy life if he thinks only of himself and turns everything to his own purpose." From Seneca's perspective, true friendship comes from building upon the bond made possible from a common law for all mankind. Because we have a common human nature, what is in another's best interest is in Seneca's best interest and vice versa. In this way, a Stoic friendship is always a win-win relationship.

Stoic Quotes

February 18, 2024

Life is like a play; what matters is not how long the acting lasts, but how good it is.

Seneca

Letters from a Stoic

Letter 77, On What Matters in Life

 

February 11, 2024

Cultivate an asset which the passing of time improves.

Seneca

Letters from a Stoic

Letter 15, On Good Health

 

February 4, 2024

Things that lie outside the sphere of choice are not by nature either good or evil.

Epictetus

Discourses

3.1.4

 

January 28, 2024

For each of these names, if rightly considered, always points to the acts appropriate to it.

Epictetus

Discourses

2.10.11

 

January 21, 2024

'The reasoning faculty alone comprehends both itself and all the other faculties likewise.'

Epictetus

Discourses

1.1.4

 

January 14, 2024

To want to know more than is sufficient is a form of intemperance.

Seneca

Letters from a Stoic

Letter 88

 

January 7, 2024

The things that are essential are acquired with little bother; it is the luxuries that call for toil and effort.

Seneca

Letters from a Stoic

Letter 90

 

December 31, 2023

You have buried someone you loved. Now look for someone to love.

Seneca

Letters from a Stoic

Letter 63

 

December 24, 2023

No person is good by accident. Virtue must be learnt.

Seneca

Letters from a Stoic

Letter 123

 

December 17, 2023

Are you the kind of person who can listen to the truth?
Epictetus
Discourses
3.1.24

 

December 10, 2023

We should live as if we were in public view and think as if someone could read our minds.

Seneca

Letters from a Stoic

Letter 83

 

December 3, 2023

In matters relating to life, no one offers himself to be examined; and we hate those who have shown us up. But Socrates used to say that an unexamined life is not worth living.

Epictetus

Discourses 1.26.17, 18

 

November 26, 2023

If a thing is in your interest, it is also in my own interest ... We have neither successes nor setbacks as individuals; our lives have a common end.

Letters from a Stoic

Seneca

Letter 48

 

November 19, 2023

Zeno holds that the wise person's chief strength is that he is careful not to be tricked and sees to it that he is not deceived.

From Cicero

Academica

Book 2.66

 

November 12, 2023

We should cherish old age and enjoy it. It is full of pleasure if you know how to use it. Fruit tastes most delicious just when its season is ending.

Seneca

Letter 12

 

November 5, 2023

Drunkenness is nothing but a state of self-induced insanity.

Seneca

Letter 83

 

October 29, 2023

What is death? Either a transition or an end. I am not afraid of coming to an end, this being the same as never having begun, nor of transition, for I shall never be in confinement quite so cramped anywhere else as I am here.

Seneca

Letter 65

 

October 22, 2023

Zeno, defining the soul as the inborn pneuma [spiritus], teaches as follows: that which causes the death of the body when it departs [...] is the inborn pneuma.

Tertullian

On the Soul 5.3

 

October 15, 2023

Refusal to be influenced by one's body assures one's freedom.

Seneca

Letter 65, paragraph 9

 

October 8, 2023

Of [the three areas of study], the principal and most urgent is that which has to do with the passions, for these are produced in no other way than by the disappointment of our desires and the incurring of our aversions.

Epictetus

Discourses 3.2.1, 3

 

October 1, 2023

We need to set our affections on some good person and keep them constantly before our eyes, so that we may live as if they were watching us.

Seneca (quoting Epicurus)

Letter to Lucilius 11

 

September 24, 2023

Only by exhibiting actions in harmony with the sound words which he has received will anyone be helped by philosophy.

Musonius Rufus

Lectures 1.6

 

September 17, 2023

As far as words go, do not shrink from sympathizing with him, and even, if the opportunity arises, from groaning with him; but be careful not to groan inwardly too.

Epictetus

Handbook 16

 

September 10, 2023

I should not be unfeeling as a statue.

Epictetus

Discourses 3.2.4

 

September 3, 2023

Nothing could be said to be living according to nature except the thing that demonstrates its virtue through the actions which it performs in accordance with its own nature.

Musonius Rufus

Lectures 17.1

 

August 27, 2023

Even in the mind of the wise man, a scar remains after the wound is quite healed.

Zeno of Citium

Quoted by Seneca

On Anger 1.16

 

August 20, 2023

The right way to seize a philosopher, Crates, is by the ears. Persuade me then and drag me off by them.

Zeno of Citium

 

August 13, 2023

Wellbeing is attained by little things and nevertheless is no little thing itself.

Zeno of Citium

 

August 6, 2023

Steel your sensibilities, so that life shall hurt you as little as possible.

Zeno of Citium

 

July 30, 2023

A bad feeling is a commotion of the mind repugnant to reason and against nature.

Zeno of Citium

 

July 23, 2023

We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.

Zeno of Citium

 

July 16, 2023

He who does not prevent a sin, when he can, commands it.

Seneca

The Tragedies

 

July 9, 2023

Without philosophy the mind is sickly.

Seneca

The Moral Letters to Lucilius

 

July 2, 2023

Do not be like an instrument, which issues forth sweet sounds and yet never hears itself.

Cleanthes

 

June 25, 2023

It is difficulties that show what men are.

Epictetus

 

June 18, 2023

Thou shalt not blame or flatter any.

Epictetus

 

June 11, 2023

Virtue alone affords everlasting and peace-giving joy; even if some obstacle arises, it is but like an intervening cloud, which floats beneath the sun but never prevails against it.

Seneca

The Moral Letters to Lucilius

 

June 4, 2023

It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.

Seneca

The Moral Letters to Lucilius

 

May 28, 2023

If one doesn't know his mistakes, he won't want to correct them.

Seneca

The Moral Letters to Lucilius

 

May 21, 2023

What is wisdom? Always desiring the same things, and always refusing the same things.

Seneca

The Moral Letters to Lucilius

 

May 14, 2023

Be not anxious to please the multitude.

Quintus Sextius

 

May 7, 2023

It is characteristic of a civilized and humane temperament not to respond to wrongs as a beast would and not to be implacable towards those who offend, but to provide them with a model of decent behavior.

Musonius Rufus

Lectures 10.6

 

April 30, 2023

It is not death, but a bad life, which destroys the soul.

Quintus Sextius

 

April 23, 2023

Accustom your soul, after it has conceived all that is great of divinity, to conceive something great of itself.

Quintus Sextius

 

April 16, 2023

The essence of good and evil is a certain disposition of the will.

Epictetus

 

April 9, 2023

Virtue alone keeps us from making errors in living.

Musonius Rufus

Lectures 2.1

 

April 2, 2023

I ask that you adhere to these principles and that you practice the words which you praise. In this way alone will you please me most and be most helped yourself.

Musonius Rufus

Lectures 8.12

To the king who praised Musonius's lecture and said to him, "In return for these things, demand whatever you want from me, for I would not refuse you anything."

 

March 26, 2023

Since it is Reason which shapes and regulates all other things, it ought not itself to be left in disorder.

Epictetus

 

March 19, 2023

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.

Seneca

 

March 12, 2023

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.

Epictetus

 

March 5, 2023

A good judge condemns wrongful acts but does not hate them.

The Moral Essays

Seneca

 

February 26, 2023

Man conquers the world by conquering himself.

Zeno of Citium

 

February 19, 2023

So what makes a human being beautiful? Must it not be the presence of a human being's excellence? If you for your part want to appear beautiful, young man, you should strive for this, the excellence that characterizes a human being.

Discourses of Epictetus 3.1.6, 7

 

February 12, 2023

A good intellect is the choir of divinity.

Quintus Sextius

 

February 5, 2023

It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.

Seneca

 

January 29, 2023

Things it was hard to bear, it is pleasant to relate.

Seneca

 

January 22, 2023

All the good are friends of each other.

Zeno of Citium

 

January 15, 2023

To live, indeed, is not in our power; but to live rightly is.

Quintus Sextius

 

January 8, 2023

It is the upright mind that holds true sovereignty.

Seneca

 

January 1, 2023

If we do not refer each of our actions to some standard, we shall be acting at random; if to an improper standard, we shall fail utterly. There is a general and a particular standard. [...] The particular end relates to the occupation and choice of each individual.

Epictetus

Discourses 3.23.3-5

 

Our Logo

In 152 BC, the Stoic Crates of Mallus constructed the earliest known globe of Earth. In the First Century, Epictetus located human good and evil within each person's "sphere of choice" (Discourses 1.4.2, 27; 2.16.1). The logo for the Stoic School represents Crates' globe as well as Epictetus' sphere. The straight lines in the middle divide the sphere into four sections representing the four cardinal virtues that make up one Virtue. Our logo is a symbol of global good through virtuous choices.