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On Stoic Quotes

May 12, 2024

Referring to all things that come into our lives that are beyond our control as coming from Zeus, Epictetus illuminates the Stoic view of hospitality. Students of Stoicism treat strangers with good manners and treat friends and family even better.

 

May 5, 2024

In the modern age, it is good to remember how Musonius Rufus long ago indicated that every human gender is endowed with the power of reason. One proof is the fact we all communicate together. To Musonius, this meant all of us are united in the same capacity for virtue and the same accountability for vice.

 

April 28, 2024

One third of Stoicism is logic. Logic is the faculty of the mind that enables it to consider itself. The other two thirds of Stoicism are physics and ethics. Epictetus therefore explained in one sentence that logic is necessary but not sufficient for a life of virtue. It is Epictetus's simple explanation that is so characteristic of Stoicism. Unlike the sophist arguments of modern philosophies designed to explain away a life of virtue, Stoicism's eternal appeal is its simple common sense.

 

April 21, 2024

Musonius Rufus demonstrates one of the great advantages Stoics have in mental health. First, he wisely directs the student's attention on deserving respect rather than getting respect. Not everyone will give their respect to the virtuous person, but the virtuous person will deserve the respect of everyone. Second, Musonius Rufus locates the source of good mental health within one's own choice. Self-respect is the way to be respected by others who have good mental health themselves.

 

April 14, 2024

Stobaeus lived around or after the Fifth Century AD. He compiled an important collection of extracts from ancient Greek writings. While very little of Zeno's teachings remain, what remains is remarkable. In placing the origin of unhappiness squarely on inner conflict, Zeno laid the foundation for many ideas of modern psychology. In Stoicism, inner conflict occurs when a person thinks or acts out of harmony with reason, or reality. Long before Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and other modern methods, Zeno helped individuals build confidence and become aware of inaccurate thinking so they could view stressful situations accurately and act productively.

 

April 7, 2024

In the late First Century or the early Second Century, Aetius recorded the teachings of the philosophical schools as they related to natural philosophy. Even from such an early date, the biology of the Stoics anticipated our modern understanding of genetics in an important way. According to H. A. K. Hunt (1976) A Physical Interpretation of the Universe: The Doctrines of Zeno the Stoic, "We have here an hypothesis not unlike that of the modern geneticists who hold that in one tiny cell are contained all the instructions necessary for the development of the animal destined to be formed from it. The diversity of things and creatures is explained, in the Stoic theory, by the multiplicity of the spermatikoi logoi".

 

March 31, 2024

Cicero, while not a Stoic himself, faithfully documented Stoic teachings as well as those of the other schools of philosophy in his day. Cicero detailed the Stoic emphasis on finding what is true in physics, what is ethical, and what is logical. This "threefold progeny of the soul" continues to play a pivotal role in the acquisition and possession of Stoic virtue. While detailing Stoic understanding of physics, Cicero proved that First Century Stoics understood gravity pulled all things to the center of the earth and that the earth was a sphere. Modern physicists are more Stoic than they might realize.

 

March 24, 2024

Chrysippus taught that, while a wise person would know what is truly good and what is truly bad, the person would live as if "wealth, reputation, and health were really goods" (Fragments 3.698). Non-Stoics sometimes have difficulty grasping the Stoic balance between knowing what is good and simultaneously acting as if other things were goods. Calling such things, "preferred indifferents," Stoics maintain balance by remembering the other things do not cause happiness but can serve as tools for good by the wise person when they are obtained through virtues such as courage, justice, and self-control.

 

March 17, 2024

Stoicism to Musonius Rufus meant being "civilized and humane." In our hyper-offended society today, everybody will benefit from being more Stoic. Responding to offense with a model of decent behavior is still the best policy. Both the offender and the one offended can come away with a better temperament from a display of decency. The West has long been known for its diverse and cosmopolitan culture. It is no wonder that Stoicism has led the way in showing how to remain civilized and humane while celebrating diverse perspectives.

 

March 10, 2024

Musonius Rufus said the best thing to have on hand during old age was the same thing it was best to have on hand during one's youth - living the right way and in accordance with nature. To Musonius, this meant the opposite of living for pleasure. He considered it self-evident that "we did not come into existence for pleasure." It is obvious that many people lack peace of mind even when they indulge in pleasure, while virtuous individuals remain tranquil. Musonius implores young and old to act divine by forgoing the pleasure of vice.

 

March 3, 2024

Ignoring praise and criticism can be an invaluable asset for the student of Stoicism. This is a timeless piece of wisdom. Not only are the words of others beyond our control, but they are also of little value in our pursuit of virtue. Epictetus adds to Socrates' words about how valuable it is to have others examine our life and ideas, when it helps us improve our life, but adds that we ignore their praise or criticism about our rules for life.

 

February 25, 2024

Contrary to the stereotypical stoic, Seneca makes clear authentic Stoics feel the various passions. It is the true Epicurean who does not feel negative emotions. The difference between the average person and a Stoic, is simply that the Stoic overcomes the passions. This allows the Stoic to act according to reason. In all of this, Seneca agrees with Epictetus, who said, "I should not be unfeeling like a statue, but should preserve my natural and acquired relations." (Discourses 3.2.4) Epictetus places feeling the passions and overcoming them in the second of the three main areas of Stoic study, namely the area dealing with the impulse to act and not to act. Seneca writes about a realistic wise person who is nevertheless good and noble.

 

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 living. 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, [,,,] but life is never incomplete if it is an honorable one." The destination of life is honor.

 

February 11, 2024

Speaking about the mind, 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. But, here, Epictetus reminds us, "In the things that lie outside the sphere of choice, be confident; in the things that lie within it, be cautious." This is because the only evil is a bad choice. The challenge is recognizing this when fate is at work. For those who meet the challenge, Epictetus's words are a great aid in 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 above all else. According to Seneca, pleasure is a poor and petty thing. Pleasure is something we share with unreasoning animals. The Stoic, however, pursues virtue over pleasure when 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. We cannot avoid truth from nature and from one another. The question is not where to find honest men but whether we will listen to those 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 mostly from honest criticism that 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

May 12, 2024

Strangers come from Zeus.

Epictetus

Discourses 3.11.4

 

May 5, 2024

Women have received from the gods the same reasoning power as men.

Musonius Rufus

Lectures 3.1

 

April 28, 2024

You see how you yourself admit that logic is necessary, since without it you cannot even determine whether it is necessary or not.
 
Epictetus
 
Discourses 2.25.3

 

April 21, 2024

You will deserve respect from everyone if you will start by respecting yourself.

Musonius Rufus

Stobaeus 3.31.6

Chapter 31:On Respect

 

April 14, 2024

Zeno described the end as living consistently, for those who live in conflict [with themselves] are unhappy.

Stobaeus, verifying the ancient Stoic foundation for key ideas in modern psychology.

Anthology

2.75.11-76.15

 

April 7, 2024

The Stoics declare [...] a craftsman like fire [...] embracing in itself all the spermatikoi logoi in accordance with which the particulars come into being according to fate.

Aetius, documenting the Stoic anticipation of genetics

Placita

1.7.33

 

March 31, 2024

[The] force of gravity makes all things tend to the world's center which is also lowest in what is spherical.

Cicero, documenting the Stoic understanding of physics

Tusculan Disputations

5.69

 

March 24, 2024

The one and only thing which is indispensable for happiness is knowledge of what is really good and of what is really bad.

Chrysippus

Fragments

3.674

 

March 17, 2024

Do not respond to wrongs as a beast would and do not be implacable towards those who offend but provide them with a model of decent behavior.

Musonius Rufus

Lectures

10.6

 

March 10, 2024

The human being, alone of the creatures on earth, is the image of the divine and has the same virtues as the divine.

Musonius Rufus

Lectures

17.1

 

March 3, 2024

Pay no heed to what anyone says about you, for this, in the end, is no concern of yours.

Epictetus

The Handbook

50

 

February 25, 2024

The difference between the Epicurean and our own school is this: our wise person feels his troubles but overcomes them, while their wise person does not even feel them.

Seneca

Letters from a Stoic

Letter 9, On Self-sufficiency

 

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 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

 

The Global Logo

In 152 BC, the Stoic Crates of Mallus constructed the earliest known globe of Earth. Approximately two hundred years later, 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 Virtue. Our logo is a symbol of global good through choosing Virtue.