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.
There is some indication that at least a few of the ancient Stoics might’ve had polytheistic beliefs, invoked divination, and prayed to the gods. Despite this, Stoicism as a philosophical system does not hold any beliefs in the power of prayer or wishful thinking. Here are 5 reasons Stoicism is better than prayer and wishful thinking.
1. Stoicism uses reason to try to understand the world realistically and adapt to the world practically. Prayer and wishful thinking don’t look at the world from an honest perspective. Prayer and wishful thinking generally is in denial that fortune can just manifest positively or negatively at random times. Prayer and wishful thinking fundamentally believe that things can be changed for the better when there’s really no actual evidence that this can be the case. Stoicism is just more honest.
2. People waste a lot of time praying and thinking wishfully. When instead they can use Stoicism, which helps them deal with hardship and loss. Why waste so much time wanting things to be a certain way when you can just use Stoicism to adapt your mind to the way things are?
3. People trick themselves into believing in the power of prayer through confirmation bias. They remember all the times when prayer seemed to work and forget all the times when it didn’t work. Stoicism doesn’t rely on confirmation bias. What you put into Stoicism, you get out. So if you’re trying to be more virtuous and work at it, you’ll become more virtuous. You just have to try. In fact, people will begin to notice how you’ve changed and maybe want to emulate you.
4. Stoicism helps you use your reason and senses to help you anticipate future events. For instance, if you get to know people realistically rather than what you wish they were, you can judge their characters easier if you’re close to them. You can tell who might be trying to scam you or exploit you and you can easily adapt to that. But if you’re using wishful thinking, you wish a person was a certain way, and so you don’t get to know them the way they really are. So then those people just use you and abuse you.
5. Finally, Stoicism helps you learn from the past and prepare for the future by living in the present. Wishful thinking and prayer just makes you live in the future or the past but never lets you learn from the present. You’re always thinking of how you wish things used to be but you’re not learning how to make things great now for yourself. Or you’re praying for a nice sports car but you’re not thinking about how nice your car is now.
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.
NASCAR is expensive. It requires funding through many channels. NASCAR is funded through ticket sales, money from tv broadcast contracts. All the teams have to pay for their hardware, personnel, and travel. The teams fund this by selling sponsorship coupled with what they earn from competing. The auto manufacturers will also sometimes provide financial support. Stoicism is not expensive at all. The only investment it requires is a few simple mindfulness/meditative exercises throughout the day and focus on virtue.
NASCAR has a large carbon footprint. Stoicism doesn’t. NASCAR switched to E15 “green fuel” but “green fuel” is a misnomer. NASCAR may use 15% Ethanol but the rest is gasoline . Stoicism is just a concept that transfers from one mind to another. Very little energy or money is required for that.
NASCAR is a spectator sport that requires hours of time watching cars make a transit, usually in an oval. Stoicism doesn’t require this time investment of sensory repetition. Sure, you might review certain meditative techniques throughout the day in Stoicism but it sure beats watching cars travel in ovals ad infinitum. Also NASCAR is loud and can give you a headache. Stoicism is silent and can even help you mentally deal with your headache.
NASCAR promotes competition. Stoicism promotes both competition and cooperation. NASCAR is just what you’d expect from a sport that is entirely profit-motivated. It’s motivated by cutthroat competitiveness. People actually die in their quest to race around tracks as a means to being first and everyone else last. Stoicism is much more cooperative. Instead of “me” first, it cares about others and their needs. Stoicism balances one’s needs with the group’s needs. If you’re not always first that’s ok because it’s not always a competition, you can be proud for someone ahead of you.
NASCAR requires too much brain investment without very little brain reward. NASCAR requires you to know the drivers, requires you to keep track of points, requires you drink beer, requires you to travel to their events, requires you to schedule your tv time around NASCAR, requires you to watch tv period, requires you buy their products, requires you watch their commercials and become tempted by their commercials, it makes you have unrealistic goals of becoming a NASCAR driver, it might even make you have a need for speed and make you break the law. And what is the reward? Maybe a little buzz from the beer? Stoicism doesn’t require any of this. It just wants you to focus on being a good person and the reward is lifetime happiness. Imagine that. Stoicism requires very little investment for lifetime happiness.