The Story of the Stoic Father (Fiction)

Hello, I’m Jeff Whitman. I’m a university professor, who teaches Global Studies in Denver, Colorado.  My wife Victoria is professor who teaches Gender Studies for an online university.  We both have been lifelong liberal progressives and have been involved in several social movements together in our early college days.  We actually met at Occupy Wall Street in Zuccoti Park.  When Victoria and I decided to have kids we promised each other we’d raise them with a liberal attitude towards life and would give them plenty of resources to learn and remain open minded to new ideas.

Years after Victoria and I had kids, I became interested in Stoicism and became a Stoic.  I decided to apply Stoicism to my life and try to live as hard as I could to put virtue first in all of my goals.  My wife thinks I’m funny for being so dogmatic.  She’s one of those people who like to have a smorgasbord of ethics.  She likes utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics but won’t settle for any particular ethical system and just uses what she likes given the situation.  That kind of attitude can drive me crazy sometimes but it is what it is and I accept it.

Our youngest child is Vicky.  She is in 8th grade and is doing well in school.  She is really bright and is actually quite familiar with the works of Friedrich Nietzsche.  She’s decided she’s a nihilist.  In her mind, there are no real values and no morality.  She still acts on her moral sentimental instincts and is definitely a good kid but she thinks there’s no way to rationally justify her views.  She laughs at anyone who believes in principles and values.

Frank is just starting high school and he’s doing all right.  He’s a B student, kind of like me in high school.  He spends a lot of time at the library alone and considers himself an Epicurean.  I often discuss a lot of different issues with him because he’s always wondering what a Stoic would do and it gives him some ideas on how he can approach the problem from an Epicurean point of view.

Our eldest child is Britney and she’s a senior in high school and she’s already scored high enough in ACTs and SATs to go free-ride to any major American university of her choosing.  She’s thinking about Princeton, which is pretty damn cool.  She’s into computer programming and tells me all the time about programming languages.  I’m often zoning out because programming is so dreadfully boring to me.  She considers herself a Skeptic.  No, not a scientific skeptic, although she is one of those.  But she considers herself an ancient Greek Skeptic.  She often laughs at me and considers my ethical viewpoints to be no more real than optical illusions.

With the different viewpoints my children express and even my wife, it makes for interesting discussion around the dinner table.  We don’t always have to agree on every single thing but we do agree on the important issues like when it’s time to go to bed and turn off the TV.  I’m pretty happy with our family because we are good people despite our different outlooks on life.  I never would’ve thought I’d have a nihilist daughter and I would’ve never thought about a nihilist being such a good person.

I think the main reason why we do so well as a family is because my wife is sort of a control freak.  Sometimes when she’s laying down the law of the house, I can’t help but to jokingly think of her as a fascist.  But I never say it out-loud because she’s only doing what she thinks is good for the well-being of everyone.  She’s pretty much the glue that holds the family together.  If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know if anything would get done.

Why don’t I assert myself as the family man and drill Stoicism into everyone’s heads?  For one, it’s never that easy.  Tyrants always create opposition.  For two, I can only do what’s in my own control, I can’t do what’s not in my control, like attempting to control my family’s belief systems and values.  The Stoics taught us long ago that we should try to use reason and Socratic dialogue to persuade others to our beliefs.

I’ve learned a lot from this experience and I hope you can too.  I’m just one person among many trying to do what I think is best for everyone.  I hope my experiences can teach you how to be a truly good person even if your philosophies are disagreeable to mine.

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5 Reasons Stoicism Is Better Than Feminism

  1. Stoicism already includes feminism but feminism doesn’t necessarily include Stoicism.  The ancient Stoics were similar to Plato in believing that women were just as equal to men in the ability to use reason and be virtuous.  Stoicism is a big tent philosophy that include feminism and many other elements.  Feminists aren’t always Stoics though.  Stoicism is larger in scope than feminism.
  2. Feminism mainly cares about power relationships between men and women.   Stoicism believes that the only thing in your power is your own opinions, desires, and goals, and everything else is indifferent.  But Stoicism does care about the virtue justice which means caring about a whole host of issues like wealth inequality, gender inequality, the environment, economic greed, and mental health issues.
  3. Feminism has several waves.  1st through 4th through I don’t know what but Stoicism is just Stoicism and always has been.  You don’t have to be a 3rd wave Stoic, you’re just a Stoic.  Being a Stoic means you believe in virtue as the end goal, which amazingly leads to eudaimonia.  And that’s that.  It’s easier to be a Stoic.
  4. While it’s good to be a feminist now (depending on your definition), it’s always good to be a Stoic (which is much more easily defined).  Stoicism is timeless and ahistorical.  It doesn’t depend on the history of the patriarchy and the historical changing dynamics of powers of one sex or gender over the other.  Stoicism is always about being virtuous which means helping the downtrodden no matter who they are or who they will be in the future.
  5. To be a proper academic Stoic you don’t need any college, you just need books by three main writers, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Seneca. To be an academic feminist though, you need a 4 year degree in feminism and gender studies and that can be quite expensive, you also need to know a whole host of writers (way more than 3) to comprehend feminism and be well versed in it.  Stoicism requires very little cognitive investment.pexels-photo-59657.jpeg