Epicureanism is a philosophy first started by the Greek philosopher Epicurus. It believes that ultimately pleasure is the highest good and that all life should be geared to pleasure. It mainly focuses on creating a mindset that gets rid of all pain which will free the mind to experience the ultimate pleasure called Ataraxia, a form of superb tranquility. The Epicureans did believe virtue was important but only as a means to securing one from the pains of guilt.
1. Epicureans usually had a few friends, didn’t intend to have kids because losing a child would be terrible, and lived in small communes. Stoicism believed having kids was fine and that if you ever did lose them, Stoic exercises would prepare you for the day. Stoicism also did not isolate its people into small communes. Stoicism believed that practicing a life geared towards virtue would free one of negative passions and allow them to deal with just about any obstacle and so Stoics weren’t afraid to participate in the greater society.
2. Epicureanism believed that virtue was a means to happiness. Stoicism believed that virtue was the end/goal and if you pursued it like it was the end goal, then you’d find happiness. Seems like splitting hairs doesn’t it? Well, not really. The Epicureans were only using virtue as a vehicle to not feel guilty so that they could be happy. Stoics didn’t care about guilt or feeling good. They cared about practicing virtue for virtue’s sake. And only then can you reap virtue’s rewards.
3. Epicureanism saying to practice virtue just so its practitioners can sleep at night is hardly a good philosophy. What if someone came along and did a few bad things, felt guilty at first, but then didn’t care after a while and got the pleasure they wanted? Stoicism doesn’t use virtue that way. It’s not about feeling guilty or happy or remorseful. In fact, Stoicism would rather you cut out the remorse in your life and do what’s good regardless of how you feel about it. Epicureanism is too bogged down in how you feel about doing virtue and not just getting the virtue done.
4. Epicureanism doesn’t even really prepare you for a life of happiness. Think about it. Epicureanism wants you to hide in a commune somewhere with a few friends and care less about the world around you. Your life is actually very fragile because if you don’t participate in the world, the world can go crazy and destroy your precious commune. Stoics were all the time trying to prevent the world from going crazy.
5. Finally, Stoics already allow for pleasure as a preferred indifferent. That means in Stoicism you’re allowed to pursue pleasure so long as it doesn’t come into conflict with virtue. The Epicureans were smart in that they didn’t just pursue pleasure but avoided pain. But the problem is their philosophy still didn’t prepare them sufficiently for the pain that will always come creeping in no matter how many ways they try to prepare themselves for it. Stoicism knows you’ll feel pain and sometimes it’s best to just let it happen and then let it pass. Virtue is its own reward. Don’t let the pain be the problem. Let it be part of the solution.
The correct answer is neither is more “Stoic” than the other. For one thing, they do not follow the philosophy of Zeno of Citium. However, they both live approximately in agreement with nature. Also, living in agreement with nature for a cat is very different than living in agreement with nature for a dog.
The question is how much does your individual cat or dog live in agreement with nature? For a human to live in agreement with nature, they have to mature emotionally and rationally to their full potential. Essentially, no one really completes their full potentiality because if they did, they’d be a Sage. So the same probably goes for cats and dogs. Does a cat or a dog ever really mature fully into their full potential? Maybe a few but they’d be rarer than a phoenix.
What does it mean for a cat to live up to its full potential as a cat? Well, perhaps it would have to be very good apex predator. It would need to be able to catch mice really well. It would need to take plenty of catnaps. It would need eat the right amount and clean its coat sufficiently. It might need to produce the requisite amount of hairballs. Perhaps if you saw that cat, you’d be like, “well, that’s definitely a cat!”
What does it mean for a dog to live up to its full potential as a dog? Well, perhaps it would need to be appropriately loyal to its human. If it was a feral dog, maybe it would need to be part of a pack and maybe even do the appropriate things as a pack animal. Perhaps it would be really good at following the lead dog or if it was a lead dog of the pack it would be really good at leading. Maybe if a human called it “a good boy” it would take that as an initiative to be a good boy. A “good” dog certainly would be very trainable.
So that’s the definitive answer. Cats and dogs are not really any better than the other with regard to Stoicism. Cats will be cats and dogs will be dogs. Some dogs are better at being dogs than others. Just like some cats are better than other cats at being cats. Can anything ever really live in agreement with nature? Not when taken apart. But when looking at the whole nature definitely lives in agreement with itself.
The autumn is the best season. The days are growing shorter and the intensely hot days draw to an end. All the wasps and spiders go away and the trees look magnificent with their bright yellow, red, orange colors shining as the beta carotene shines through the decayed chlorophyll of their leaves. Here are 5 reasons Stoicism is better than that.
Fall unfortunately is just one season and so it’s not always in season. Stoicism is always in season. In fact if you bought Ryan Holiday’s The Daily Stoic, you’ll find that there’s a quote by a notable Stoic to help you through the day for 365 days of the year.
The Fall reminds us that all things must come to an end. The leaves of the deciduous trees begin to die, the insects begin to die, as the air cools outside activities begin to cease, and gardening comes to an end. Stoicism reminds us throughout the year that all things must come to an end. Everything is born, sustains, and then dies. Fall only reminds us of the ending of things for 3 months. Stoicism reminds us not to take anything for granted 365 days of the year.
In the late Fall, the air grows uncomfortably cold, especially in late November. Stoicism teaches you to bear the cold. It teach you all year round how to learn to bear uncomfortable truths, hardships, anything and everything dire. When you practice Stoicism after a while, you begin to quote Queen Elsa of Frozen, “the cold never bothered me anyway.”
The Fall is a great season for pyromaniacs. It’s that time of the year when you have bonfires and you get to stack your wood in the fireplace/hearth and let it burn. The ancient Stoics believed in a divine fire that existed in each of us that burned throughout the year. Surely Stoicism is the true answer to all fire lovers everywhere.
In the Autumn many throughout the Western world participate what is called Halloween. Halloween is a great holiday that celebrates the pivotal point in the year of harvest. While it’s a fun holiday where people dress up like witches and warlocks, it doesn’t compare to Stoicism which creates joy throughout the year for those who practice virtue.
I was recently in the hospital because somewhere inside of my gastrointestinal tract I had a bleed. So I’d like to share why Stoicism is so much better than a bleed in your long ass digestive snake organ.
1. You can die from a gastrointestinal bleed. You can also die from practicing Stoicism. But dying for Stoicism will make you a badass martyr.
2. Gastrointestinal bleeds can be very difficult to locate and fix. You can easily find Stoicism with a quick google search and if you find Stoicism’s metaphysics to be broken you can easily replace the metaphysics with modern scientific materialism. Its ethics adapts well to a variety of possible metaphysics.
3. GI bleeds are sometimes painful. Stoicism can sometimes mean enduring discomfort. But man is the eudaimonia worth it!
4. GI bleeds often means staying in the hospital which can be quite expensive. Stoicism is only somewhat expensive if you buy all that ridiculous memento mori merchandise and spend money covering your body with Seneca quotes.
5. GI bleeds often happen unexpectedly. Stoicism is all about expecting the unexpected. It usually means preparing for the worst. In fact, GI bleeds aren’t even the worst. There are so many worse things you can imagine happening to yourself while you imagine yourself simultaneously unperturbed.
Buddhism is one of the major 5 religions of the world and it has 520 million followers. Buddhism is older than Stoicism but you’d think with all these followers and how long Buddhism has been around, Buddhism would be a lot more coherent. But it’s not. There are two major branches, Theravada and Mahayana and there might even be a third branch separate from the two: Vajrayana, depending on who you ask. And to complicate it further these 2 or maybe 3 branches divide even further into a large multiplicity of schools with their own dogmas and precepts. But with Stoicism, there’s just one: Stoicism. Nothing complicated about that. Virtue is the only good and if you follow virtue you’ll find eudaimonia.
Depending on who you ask (seriously there’s very little agreement on anything), Buddhism depends on a belief in reincarnation, continuous death and rebirth, until you achieve enlightenment and break the cycle. This involves also a belief in karma, that if bad things happen to you in this life it could be because you lived a bad former life. None of this stuff actually can be empirically proved so it is what it is. Stoicism believes when you die nobody really knows what happens to your soul. So you might as well bet it just ends 2 meters under the ground and you should focus on this life. Buddhism does stress living in the moment and in this life. But so does Stoicism, it just doesn’t assume all this other complicated metaphysical mess.
Buddhism offers enlightenment. But it requires an unnecessary amount of effort to become enlightened with no real guarantee. Your whole life is devoted to an escape from an illusion created by your ego. Many people sacrifice their whole life for enlightenment and then they die never having it (but at least they have a next life to pursue it or so they hope). Stoicism doesn’t offer enlightenment. Stoicism says just try to be a good person and if you work a little at mastering some of important virtues you’ll be pretty content. No heavenly bliss or pie in the sky nirvana. You’ll just have a more rational level head. Stoicism is much much more realistic. You get out of Stoicism what you put in.
Buddhism requires an unnecessary amount of meditation that involves clearing one’s mind of distractions. Often times coupled with a focus on breathing. On point #4 some Buddhist is going to argue that this is not the case but like I said no two Buddhists ever really agree on anything. Stoicism doesn’t require this impractical attempt at emptying one’s mind. Stoicism just says focus on your own virtue, focus on what is truly in your power: your own judgment and that no event external to you is truly bad or good. It doesn’t involves hours of sitting in front of a candle in the dark investing in the impossible mental task of clearing your mind of all your thoughts.
Finally, if you follow Buddhism to the letter you’ll have to eliminate all intoxicants from your life. No more drinking alcohol, no mind altering drugs, no nicotine, no unnecessary luxuries, no caffeine. All you get are some herbal teas with no caffeine benefits. Stoicism says if it’s in moderation and your liver can easily detoxify it from your blood, then have at it.