This article is part of a series of modified excerpts from the introduction to our book "On Virtue." 

Article 1 - What is Stoicism?

Stoicism is the way of life taught by the Stoic School. A person who lives according to Stoicism is a Stoic.

Stoicism teaches you:

  1. to find the most happiness in life
  2. to have healthy relationships with others 
  3. to understand science
  4. to improve the world.

The Stoic School began in 300 BC. From the beginning, the School studied science to discover how individuals and cities could work in harmony with Nature. Naturally, the study of science taught Stoics about the physical world, but their most surprising discoveries where about human emotions, thinking, and relationships.

For more than 2,300 years, Stoicism has been the best way to have a happy life for individuals and communities from every nation, ethnic group, sex, and age. One of the most interesting parts of Stoicism is that it is more important now than it was in the past. Modern technology, changing social values, and the enormous amount of information on the internet can cause confusion. However, Stoicism teaches individuals how to organize information, how to know which social values bring benefit or harm, and how to decide which technologies will make your life easier or harder.

Stoicism also teaches a lot about how to deal with problems in your life that you cannot control. These things include financial reversals, betrayal, health problems, slander, etc. No matter what is in your life that you cannot change, Stoicism gives you strength and peace of mind in hard times.

Stoicism is not simply a theory about how you can benefit yourself; it has been tested and verified for 2,300 years. This way of life is also reliable; it has given strength and peace of mind to many during times of the greatest suffering a human can experience. A way of life that has helped persons with feelings and needs like you to overcome human trafficking, addictions, torture, poverty, famine, and other severe trials can also benefit you during any crisis in your life.

One part of Stoicism that attracts a lot of interest is its teaching on Cosmopolitanism. What the Stoic School teaches about Cosmopolitanism is that every person is related. This means that there is only one human family. While Stoicism taught this for many centuries, scientists were only able to verify this teaching in modern times by mapping the human genome and scientifically studying human DNA throughout the world. Both the mitochondrial DNA and the nuclear DNA in human cells verify that all humans are related. To Stoicism this has always meant that everybody has dignity and is valuable in a unique way. Every person and every ethnic group can harmonize for a better world.

The key to global harmony begins with the individual. Stoicism teaches that individuals should first come to know themselves, especially what brings them the best happiness. After that, individuals can come to know others. Then individuals can come to know the best way to harmonize with others.

The next article will explain how to know yourself.