Thursday, October 03, 2019

Stoic Week 2019 Series 1. 8 things you (probably) didn't know about Stocism

In readiness for Stoic Week next week, I am going to be blogging about Stoicism every day, starting from  today
I also intend to do some tweeting at Stoicon in Athens on Saturday .....

Although I hope to be introducing ideas of interest to seasoned Stoics as well, I'm also aiming for newbies. So feel free to forward this to friends or relatives who you think might benefit from Stoicism

8 Things You (probably) did't know about Stoicism

1. The word "Stoic" comes from the  ancient Greek expression  "Stoa Poikile", meaning a  ‘Painted Porch’. This was a decorated colonnade on the north side of the Agora in Athens, where the first Stoic,  Zeno and his followers discussed what later came to be known as Stoicism

2. Stoicism (big S) is not the same as stoicism (small s). Stoicism is an ancient philosophy which provides a practical framework to live like an excellent human being, based on the core virtues of wisdom, moderation, courage and justice. This is very different from adopting a stoic (small s) attitude, which has come to mean being rather cold, unfeeling and resigned. A Stoic (big S) can be warm, have positive emotions and be very active politically and socially - they just wont get so upset about the things they can't change. 

3. Contemporary celebrities who have shown a positive interest in Stoicism  include Derren Brown, J.K. Rowiing, actor Tom Hiddlestone  and Gerrie Halliwell("Ginger Spice") . Derren Brown has even written a book strongly influenced by Stoicism (called "Happy").

4. Famous people in history who have been influenced by Stoicism include a number of US Presidents including Thomas Jefferson and Bill Clinton as well as Nelson Mandela as well as numerous philosophers such as Spinoza and the 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury.

5. Modern Cognitive Behavioural Therapy originally drew heavily on Stoic ideas. Both the originators of CBT  - Tim Beck and (especially) Albert Ellis acknowledged their debt to Stoicism

6. "Modern Stoicism" has increasingly flourished over the last decade. Modern Stoics are interested in drawing on Stoicism to live a good life, some of them simplify it, some emphasise the ethics and psychology more than the metaphysics and worldview.

7. The Modern Stoicism project has also done some research into whether being a Stoic helps. In short - yes,for many people it does.

8. The positive quality found to be most associated with Stoicism is ... zest.  So much for Stoics being cold and unemotional.

To join Stoic Week in 2019 for free, visit

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