The point of being independent and non needing things is so that your felicity will non be destroyed by some accident outside of your control or by the maliciousness of other human existences. The more your felicity depends on anything person else can destruct, the less freedom you have – you are vulnerable to menaces. In late antiquity many people felt insecure; authorities were oppressive, there was a batch of illegal force, people died all of a sudden of disease or toxicant or through witchery or the maliciousness of the Gods. Harmonizing to Aristotle, felicity consists chiefly in worthwhile activity, but it does hold some demand of the goods of luck. ‘ The good is something of one’s ain, that can non easy be taken from one’ .
The Stoics, wanted to happen something that could non perchance be taken off. Yet they did non desire to populate ‘ like Canis familiaris’. The solution is this: The good is to populate in conformity with ground, and the power to make this can non be taken off. Our external fortunes may be the consequence of accident or the maliciousness of others, but whether we act rationally given the fortunes is up to us. As for physical things, it is in conformity with ground to utilize them when they are available and utile, but non to go affiliated to them so that their loss causes distress. Possessions do non do you vulnerable unless you become attached to them. To populate in conformity with ground is the Stoic construct of the good for adult male. The Stoics seem to be cognizant of Aristotle, adoption and altering his thoughts.
Tyranny, bondage, freedom were of import constructs in Stoic idea ( see Epictetus ). Freedom is non poverty, it is being able to give up external ownerships and external freedom without hurt. Harmonizing to the Stoics the indispensable homo freedom is inward: the ability to give or keep back acquiescence to representations ( ideas ) that semen before my head – to accede or non to the representation that something is so, or that the act it represents is to be done, or that the province of personal business represented is a good or an evil. I can ever keep back my acquiescence to such a representation – that is a power that can non be taken off. I can non forestall the remotion of my belongings, the loss of a limb, the thesis of hurting; but I can keep back by acquiescence from the mental representation of these things as immoralities. Someone populating absolutely in conformity with ground would experience the hurting and possibly some psychological perturbation, but would stay tranquil at the Centre. Composure is the ideal. Emotion, or at least undue emotion, is to be repressed.
No 1 lives absolutely in conformity with ground: the ‘ wise adult male an ideal. The wise adult male is happy, i.e. is in ownership of the good, no affair what happens to his ownerships or organic structure, because he would decline to see as truly an evil anything but failure to move in conformity with ground. ( The Stoic paradoxes – ‘ the wise adult male is happy on the rack’, or in the bull of Phalaris: he feels the hurting, and calls out, but knows all the clip that this is non an immorality. )
When Demetrius the city-sacker came upon the philosopher Stibo emerging from the fires of his metropolis in which his married woman and kids had merely died, he asked ‘ Did you lose anything?’ Answer: ‘ No, all I possessed I have with me’: ‘ significance by this’, Seneca says ( Letter 9 ), ‘ the qualities of a merely, a good and an enlightened character, and so the really fact of non sing as valuable anything that is capable of being taken away.
What does the wise adult male do when he is moving in conformity with ground? His actions aim at the same kinds of things as other people aim at, but he does ordinary things otherwise. Harmonizing to the Stoics human existences all begin by seeking nutrient, drink, and other things associating to self-preservation, but may come to do it a end to seek these things ‘ in conformity with nature’ or ‘ in conformity with ground’. This may go the over-riding end ( see Cicero, De Finibus, III.vi.21 ), so that we will digest the loss or defeat of the original self-preservation ends instead than make anything contrary to nature – i.e. would instead decease than make anything contrary to nature. Seeking the original ends in conformity with nature or ground agencies seeking them in conformity with the person’s topographic point as a portion of the larger whole – of the human race, of the whole existence. Nature, for the Stoics, as for Aristotle, is a functional whole, with each portion assigned its particular function. Possibly we can construe the phrase ‘ act in conformity with nature, or ground ’as ‘ act in conformity with the regulations of morality’, understanding that morality spells out the function human existences have to play in the system of nature. ( The Stoics held a ‘ natural jurisprudence’ construct of morality. ) So the Stoic seeks the same kinds of things as everyon vitamin E seeks, but in conformity with the regulations of morality; and his overruling end is to move that manner – if he does non achieve the things he seeks, but has sought them decently, so he has all the same attained his end.
Harmonizing to the Stoics, really to achieve external things is non portion of the good; the good is entirely to seek such things rationally. In Aristotle we can ever replace the term ‘ end’ for the term ‘ good’ used as a noun – anything we aim at is a good, in Aristotle’s nomenclature; but non in that of the Stoics. To show the point that the overruling end is to move justly even if we do non achieve the things action aims at, the Stoics restricted the term ‘ good’ to the end of moving ever in conformity with nature and would non use the term to the things action aims at; they said that these things were ‘ to be preferred’, but non that they were ‘ good’. Thus to remain alive is to be preferred, and the Stoic’s actions will take at maintaining him alive, but non at any cost – merely when that can be done in conformity with ground. Staying alive is non portion of the good, though it is to be preferred. The good is something which can non be taken off, as your life can be; the good is independent of outward fortunes; the things action purposes at are non independent, but to move in conformity with ground is entirely within our power, and that is the good. The Stoics could possibly hold said that the ethical good is to move justly, while success is good in some other sense; but to name both kinds of things good might propose that they can be added together or subtracted – that right action with success is more good than unsuccessful right action. On the contrary, if a individual ever acts as he should as portion of the larger whole – the human race, the existence – so his life is absolutely good, even if his outward fortunes are such that he does non accomplish what is preferred. If his life is absolutely good, so he is happy – even if what he tries to make is non achieved.
The Stoics did non, like the Epicureans, seek security in the quiet, unpolitical life. Stoic doctrine encourages political activity even in hard fortunes. Even if success is unlikely, the Stoic will prosecute in political action if that is the right thing to make. Of class ground may propose that where there is small opportunity of making any good in political relations it would be better to turn to something else; but while political action seems for any ground to be his responsibility ( e.g. to bear informant to rules or values ), the Stoic will prosecute in it without being put off by deficiency of success. ‘ The wise adult male does non commiseration, but he helps’( i.e. he does non let himself to go disquieted, since that would hinder action, but helps in an unemotional manner ). Politics is one manner of assisting the human race ( remember Plato’s philosopher coming back down into the cave ). Stoics sought political power, as other people did, but were resolved to utilize it justly, in conformity with ground. Reason itself may order via media, tact, turning away of confrontation, etc.; but when it became clear that farther via media will make no good ( instead, will non take to anything ‘ preferred’), the Stoic will with composure lose his power and even his life.
Harmonizing to the Stoics ground licenses suicide, when there is no good to be achieved by populating on. Socrates was one of the heroes of the Stoics: ‘ You are mistaken, my friend, if you think that a adult male who is worth anything ought to pass his clip weighing up the chances of life and decease. He has merely one thing to see in executing any action – that is, whether he is moving justly or wrongly, like a good adult male or a bad one’( Apology, 28b ).
So Stoicism provided a philosophy of painstaking, principled, flexible, and resolute action in political relations, in the face of danger. In political relations, as in morals, freedom was a major value for the Stoics. They particularly valued freedom in the sense of making and stating what you think should be done and said ( parrhesia, freedom of address in the sense of frankness ); under a dictatorship, the lone people free in this sense are those prepared to decease – under any societal agreements, the free in this sense are those who are prepared to neglect. But the Stoics besides valued other kinds of political freedom; they supported monarchy, but non tyranny. Outward freedom is ‘ to be preferred’, but is non indispensable to the good life. External captivity can non destruct the freedom everyone has to give or keep back acquiescence and to populate in conformity with ground. Whereas the good life as Aristotle conceived of it could be lived merely by person with freedom and leisure, non by slaves, crafts mans, adult females, savages, the Stoics taught that anyone can populate the good life now, wherever he or she may be, and can go on populating it no affair where – on the rack, in the bull of Phalaris.