Stoic Philosophy

Stoic Philosophy, the body of doctrine held and taught by the Stoics, or followers of Zeno. It was an offshoot from the school of Socrates, but the plant was very unlike the other shoots from the same root. It was thoroughly syncretistic; and its separate doctrines, often much disguised and strangely distorted, may be readily traced to earlier systems. The philosophy was like Corinthian brass, the result of the fusion of many dissimilar materials, and unlike any that entered into its composition. The chiefs and advocates of the creed boasted of its marvelous symmetry and perfect organization. They lauded the "admirabilis compositio disciplinae incredibilisque rerum ordo. Quae, per deos immortales! nonne miraris? Quid enim aut in natura, qua nihil est aptius, nihil descriptius, aut in operibus manu factis tam compositum tamque compactum et coagmentatum inveniri potest? Quid posterius priori non convenit? Quid sequitur quod non respondeat superiori? Quid non sic aliud ex alio nectitur, ut non, si unam litteram moveris, labent omnia? Nec tamen quidquam est, quod moveri possit" (Cicero, De Fin. 3, 22, 74). There is some apparent justification for this confident glorification. The "lucidus ordo" is manifest in the Stoic system, but it is superficial and factitious. There is an artificial symmetry and an ingenious coaptation of parts which were never meant for each other. The smooth and winning exterior is deceptive. Like the "whited sepulchre," it is "filled with dead men's bones." The Stoic philosophy was full of extravagances, incoherences, and contradictions, which were softened down or reconciled only by violent interpretations, and the constant exercise of dialectical legerdemain. Its opponents exposed its innumerable petit and grand larcenies. More dispassionate judges, like Plutarch, wrote treatises to exhibit its internal discrepancies. It was with good reason charged with gross absurdities, and was censured as a notable justification of the sneer, Οὐδέν ἐστι τῶν καλουμένων φιλοσόφων ἀφιλοσοφώτερον (Athen. Deipn. 13, 93). Nevertheless, the philosophy of the Stoics is sufficiently distinct and characteristic to merit the eminent and enduring ascendency which it enjoyed as one of the great Hellenic schools, and to invite definite appreciation as a philosophic creed. Philosophy, according to the Stoics, was the art and practice of virtue ("Philosophia studium virtutis est, sed per ipsam virtutem" [Seneca, Epist. 14, 1, 8]). It was studied that it might be practiced; it was practiced that it might be learned; it was the theory and rule of a wise and virtuous life. The essentially ethical character and the practical tendency of the philosophy were manifested from the outset. Aristo of Chios regarded nothing but morals as belonging to the domain of philosophy, and ethics always constituted its main and determinant part. Morality was its aim, its "ratio essendi" all the rest was its "ampla" or "curta supellex," its garniture or its scaffolding. For this everything was devised; to this everything converged; and to this all other things were fitted. Incongruities were blinked, were disregarded, were masked, or were welcomed if they aided, or did not obstruct, the attainment of the main object. Extravagances and paradoxes were cordially entertained if they conduced to the main purpose. Some of the Stoic chiefs narrowed the range of speculation to this single object; others, and notably Zeno himself, Chrysippus, and Posidonius, embraced in their teachings the whole domain of knowledge; but always in subordination to the pursuit of virtue and the wisdom "whereunto all other things shall be added." Philosophy, according to the Stoics, should be — 1. Practical; 2. In conformity with reason; 3. In conformity with nature. The "jus et norma naturae" ran through all the ramifications of Stoic doctrine. To be practical, philosophy must be rational; to be rational, it must be in perfect consonance with the constitution of man and with the process of the universe. The act of virtue must therefore rest on the knowledge of reason and of nature. This was as strenuously insisted upon by Zeno and all his disciples as by Carlyle, though in far other guise. In agreement with these views, and also with those of previous philosophers, philosophy was divided by the Stoics into three parts: Physics, Ethics, and Logic; or, by Cleanthes, into six; Logic, Rhetoric; Ethics, Politics; Physics and Theology. The latter scheme is only a binary subdivision of the original tripartite distribution. The order of the parts was variously determined by different Stoic teachers. Logic came first with some, physics with others; but logic and physics were alike constituted mainly, if not solely, for the sake of ethics, in order to determine the character and the duties of the virtuous man. One order or another will be preferred, according to the point of view from which the whole system is regarded. If it is desirable to trace the genesis and the organic relations of the doctrine, ethics should take precedence, as in the third book of Cicero's tractate De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, where ethics occupy nearly the whole book, only two chapters out of the twenty-two being conceded to dialectics and physics. This order of exposition would be tedious and inconvenient on the present occasion, as the other parts of the speculation would have to be broken up and dismembered, in order to show their connection with the moral tenets. If it is proposed to establish the authority and obligation of the Stoic rule on the basis of pervading law, physics, as including the constitution of the universe, and theology should come first. This sequence is unfavorable to a condensed presentation of the philosophy, and throws logic out of connection with the other parts. Helice the most convenient order is to treat first of logic, next, of physics, and lastly of ethics. The means of ascertaining and securing truth are thus first considered; then the order and constitution of universal nature, by which the duties of man are determined and his actions controlled; and, finally, the obligations imposed upon man by the laws of reason and the laws of existence.

I. Logic. — The Stoic logic consisted of three divisions: Rhetoric, or continuous exposition; Dialectics, or discontinuous speech, specially argumentation, "inter respondentem et interrogantem discissa" (Seneca,

Epist. 14, 1, 17); and, thirdly, the Criterion, or test of truth. The Criterion was not one of the original divisions.

1. Our information in regard to the Stoic rhetoric is limited, broken, and unsatisfactory. Rhetoric, in the Stoic plan, included topics which would now be considered foreign to the art, and would be relegated to grammar. It excluded others which would seem to be essential members of this branch of discipline. To this head, apparently, belonged the fantastic etymologies which were so diligently and erroneously cultivated by the school.

2. Dialectics embraced expression and the means of expression thoughts and words. It therefore appropriated much which should be conceded to rhetoric; it gave great attention to the nature and contents of sentences, and thus advanced grammatical inquiry and grammatical precision. So far as reasoning was concerned, it borrowed the logic of Aristotle and amplified it, without adding anything to it of substantial value. Like Sir William Hamilton, it introduced needless refinements and interminable subtleties. The Stoics gave their approval exclusively to the hypothetical syllogism; habitually practiced ratiocination by captious questions and evasive answers; elaborated the doctrine of fallacies, and were frequently entangled in their own toils; invented manifold and bewildering distinctions, according to the fashion of the schoolmen; and, like them, exercised themselves in continual disputation. Hence they were reproached with wire drawn and briery argumentation: "subtile vel spinosum potius disserendi genus" (Cicero, De Fin. 3, 1, 8). They thus merited the denunciation and the ridicule both of enemies and friends.

3. The Stoic doctrine on the Criterion is a notable part of the general theory, and is closely associated with the whole system. It is the basis on which the theory rests, and by which its validity is upheld. It cannot be examined here in its development and details. The Stoic philosophers were harassed, as other philosophers have been, with the fundamental necessity of establishing some ground of assurance for truth a ποῦ στῶ for reason to work on. They approximated to Locke in regarding all knowledge as deducible from, perceptions and conceptions, which are analogous to, but not identical with, the sensation and reflection of the English philosopher. They agreed with Des Cartes in mistaking positiveness of conviction for certitude of truth. They attached much weight to common notions — κοιναὶ ἐννοίαι --which are not innate ideas, but impressions and judgments in which all men intuitively agree. The reception of impressions and the formation of conceptions were purely material and mechanical processes. The former were at first represented as produced by the actual imposition of a stamp, or die, upon the sensorium. Chrysippus recognized that this view was untenable, as each successive impression would thus blur or blot out its precursors, and memory would be rendered inconceivable. He substituted the rational alteration of the percipient substance for mere press work a ἀλλοίωσις for τόπωσις — with less lucidity than Herbert Spencer and other cerebrologists have done. No reality was attached to thought as an intellectual force, nor to thought as an intellectual product; it was but the shadow, or photograph, or physical result of the phenomena of nature. The Stoics were Nominalists after the order of the Cynics; being here, as in so many other respects, poene Cynici (Cicero, De Off. 3, 8). A perception was simply a fantasy, an appearance, a mental alteration. But a fantasy was distinguished from a phantasm, or apparition, which was a mental delusion. A true perception was apprehended by the apprehension of the apprehensive faculty — φαντασία καταληπτική "opium facit dormire, quia virtus est dormitiva." This position is a partial or qualified anticipation of Des Cartes. The invalidity and the fallibility of the καταληπτικὴ φαντασία are pleasantly illustrated by an anecdote told of Sphaerus at the court of Ptolemy, in Alexandria (Athenaeus, Deipn. 8, 4). A joke, it is true, is not an argument; It followed from the doctrine of perception that common notions and assured convictions were necessarily true "All that exists takes value from opinion." Much of the ethical paradox of the Stoics proceeds from this false point of departure. It was a very rude and unsafe criterion of knowledge, and sanctioned the acceptance of whatever might be confidently believed and audaciously asserted. A justification of it from the Stoic point of view may be found in the Stoic physics. If the individual reason is only an effluence from the universal reason; if all things, aid therefore all impressions, are necessarily determined by unerring law, the fantasy which is obscured by no doubt or indistinctness must be in accord with the universal reason, and must, consequently, be true. This is Spinozism, or strangely resembles it. To aid in the analysis of perceptions and thought, the Stoics devised a system of Categories, diverse in principle as in designation from the Categories of Aristotle, but consonant with their physics and metaphysics, which were, indeed, the same. Their highest conception was Being, for which was afterwards substituted Something or Anything. Under this, in regular gradation, were arranged —

1. Substance; 2. Property; 3. Variety; 4. Variety of Relation.

The deviation from Aristotle proceeded from the necessities of the Stoic physics, which, like Spinoza, recognized only one substance, only one real being or entity; but, unlike Spinoza, made that one substance matter. We are thus introduced to the Stoic physics.

II. Physics. — Like other ancient philosophers, but with greater propriety, the Stoics included theology in the philosophy of nature. They usually divided this branch of speculation into three heads Concerning the Universe; Concerning Elements; Concerning Causes. They assumed two principles, as Plato had done ἀρχὰς ὕλην καὶ Θεόν, ὡς Πλάτων (Aristocles. ap. Euseb. Pr. Ev. 15, 14); but in a very different sense. With Plato these principles had been distinct in character and essence, and inherently antagonistic; with Zeno they were confounded, coalescent, and virtually identical. Thus rigid materialism supplanted Platonic idealism, and the universe was filled with animated material entities, and with their constant transformations. The tendency of modern science seems to be in the direction of similar delusive hypotheses. From Heraclitus, from whom Zeno borrowed so largely, he borrowed also the dogma of the eternity and imperishability of matter; and also the four elements generated by the separation and differentiation of unqualified substance (ἄποιος ὕλη) and admitting indefinite combinations and transmutations. The elements themselves and all resulting products were enveloped and interpenetrated by a subtile, elastic current of fiery ether, which blended with them throughout all their changes and determined their character and actions . This either was the determining cause, the efficient force, in everything. All things were molded, guided, governed, by its impregnating and sustaining flame; everything was informed and animated by it Stars, planets, sun, moon, earth, comets as all other things were vitalized by it; and through all things moved the anima mundi, the soul of the universe.

"Namque canam tacita naturam mente pollentem; Infusumque deum coelo, terrisque, fretoque, Ingentem aequali moderantem foedere molem, Et rationis agi motu; cum spiritus unus Per cunctas habitet partes, atque irriget orbem, Omnia pervolitans, corpusque animale figuret" (Manil. Astron. 2, 60-65).

The Stoics differed among themselves in regard to the location of this all- pervading fire (πῦρ τεχνικόν). Some placed it in the center of the earth, Cleanthes in the sun, but most assigned it to the highest atmosphere, or "extra flammantia moenia mundi." Dr. Carpenter, as president of the British Association, at the Brighton meeting, declared unphilosophical the representation of the forces of nature as self-sustaining and self-operative. The inconsistency was unfelt or disregarded by the Stoics, as it has been by recent materialists. Their whole universe and all its members were framed out of undigested and indiscriminate matter by the motion of the ethereal fire which was distributed through all things. The light and life of the stars were supposed to be fed from the vapors and exhalations rising from the earth. These must be consumed in the long lapse of countless years. The universe would in turn become desiccated, and be consumed by the fiery currents within it and around it. A general conflagration will therefore wind up the varied drama of creation, when "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth, also, and the works that are therein shall be burned up." This total combustion shall be followed by the gradual renewal of all things. The process of evolution will recommence; there shall be "a new heavens and a new earth." A complete anacatastasis shall occur, to be succeeded by another total incandescence. This destruction of the world by fire vas derived from Heraclitus. Other Stoics added to it, or substituted for it, destruction by flood. There were Neptunians and Vulcanians in the sect. Some of the fraternity rejected the hypothesis altogether. It will be observed in what a remarkable manner the Stoics preceded Helmholtz and his acolytes in the theory of the spontaneous consumption of the worlds by fire, and their reproduction by cooling, coalescence, division, and recomposition of parts.

Although a nominal distinction is always made by Zeno and his followers between matter and God, and is specially insisted on by Boethus, who does not admit the world to be a huge animal; yet, as God is material-- only "a finer air"-- as he is the creative and fiery either which fashions, regulates, and dwells in all, it is impossible to establish any real division between the Divinity and the material universe. It is not merely, as Antonine says, that "all things are from Jove, in Jove, and converge to Jove," but all things are Jove, and Jove is all things. The Stoic identification of God with the universe was manifest to the ancients:

"Ac mihi tam praesens ratio non ulla videtur Qua pateat mundum divino numine verti Atque ipsum esse Deum" (Manil. Astron. 1, 490-492).

The fiery ether constituted the Divinity of Heraclitus before being adopted as the God and soul of the universe by Zeno. Throughout the whole range of being, in its highest and in its lowest spheres, there is an inconceivable mixture of the divine and the materialκρᾶσις δἰ ὅλων — but the divine itself is only matter sublimated. This supreme God is no independent or autonomous ruler. He is all wise not of his own wisdom; almighty from no power of his own. He acts, like Spinoza's God, not of his own will, but from the necessity of his nature; and is obedient to the law which he seems to impose, for that law is only the process of his inevitable developments (Seneca, Dial. 1, 5, 8). This Divinity is more shadowy than the Nouveau Grand Etre Supreme of Comte, though infinitely more expansive. He is simply the chain of unalterable sequences in the procession of phenomena "irrevocabilis humana pariter ac divina cursus vehit" (Seneca, ibid.). An absolute fatalism evidently results from this conception of the Divinity a fatalism not of actions predetermined, but of eventualities necessitated. It is fatalism a posteriori, or an inverted fatality. As all possibilities are involved in the being of God, as they occur in necessary order, and are simultaneously contained in the totality of his essence, their complexion and manifestation are foreknown to the Divinity, which, under this aspect, is named Providence. The Stoic doctrine here marches closely by the side of Spinozism. It is somewhat strange that we should owe the term "Providence" to Stoic invention. From the conceptions just explained proceeds the Stoic fate — ἡ εἰμαρμένη --which envelops all issues in its toils, and determines the end from the beginning. It follows, as with Heraclitus, that law is universal and all-controlling, and that nothing can elude it or bend it. Resistance and submission are alike ineffectual to break, to change, to retard, or to advance it.

"The Author of the world's great plan The same result will draw From human life, however man May keep or break his law."

The Divinity is dispersed, rather than divided, among many secondary gods — "ignobilis deorum turba" — but still retains the totality of its own essence. It is the same God always under many names: Ζεὺς πολνώνομος, in the Hymn of Cleanthes; "Jehovah, Jove, or Lord," in the tinkling superficiality of Pope. This is regarded as due to accommodation to the contemporaneous polytheism. Yet it is assuredly a natural development of the general scheme. The Divinity is in all things, and everything is divine; but it dwells with greater fullness and evidence in some of its incorporations than in others. Where its presence is amplest its manifestation may be most fitly recognized. The stars have their indwelling and presiding deities as with Plato and others of the older philosophers. As everything is necessitated, "the stars in their courses" are subject to law. And as all the concomitants of change are concurrently under the law, and are linked to each other by the bonds of the law, astrology ("conscia fati sidera") and all forms of divination are worthy of credit. Such indications as they afford are comprehended and interpreted either by natural intuition, through a larger participation in the universal reason and a dim sympathy with its pulsations, or by observation of coincidences and acquired skill. It is almost the declaration of Nostradamus in respect to his own pretensions. The descent of the divine is not, however, restricted to secondary gods and to their starry thrones. It attends the life of the whole in all its members and in all its motions, and it accompanies the progress of the universal reason throughout all its infinite wanderings. Man is himself divine. His soul is a "vital spark of heavenly flame" — "particula coelestis aurai. " It is a spherical flame proceeding from the fiery ethereal sphere. In every one dwells a genius, angel, or daemon; in every good man, a god. "Bonus vir sine deo nemo est" (Seneca Epp. 41, 2). With all these gradations, the unity of the Deity and the unity of the universe remain unimpaired. There is only one existence, the "causa causarum, causa universalis, anima mundi, mundus" heat, which was not merely "a mode of motion," but the cause, the spring, the substance, of all motion and of all change (Cicero, De Natc Deor. 2, 9, 24). The soul and the life of man, two potencies united in one force, are themselves material. It is a "fiery particle:"

"Igneus est ollis vigor et coelestis origo."

It is an efflux of the divine ether, as its reason is the procedure of the universal reason. It goes through its career, accompanying and animating the other matter with which it is conjoined. When its native ardor is chilled by time or consumed by action or subdued by circumstances, its corporeal alloy becomes decomposed, and it is exhaled into the circumambient air. Its subsequent fortune was variously conceived by different teachers of the school. Some maintained its immortality; others denied it (Cicero, Tusc. Disp. 1, 31, 77). Some held that its absorption into the general body of the Divinity was immediate and universal. Others believed that such immediate return to its source was limited to the souls of the perfect, and that other souls passed through an elevated purgatory and were "purified so as by fire." Others, again, held that the spirits of the blessed dwelt in the stars, and surveyed from those lofty seats the scenes of their terrestrial experiences, awaiting the grand conflagration, when they, with all the worlds around them, should be reunited to the universal fire. Some asserted that only the souls of Stoic sages were swallowed up in the ocean of Divinity; and that the rest rotted with their "tenements of clay" in "cold obstruction's apathy." Every possible variety of opinion was entertained. Seneca's views, as on most of the tenets of the creed, are largely eclectic and vacillating. They are modifications of the Stoic doctrine and are impregnated with Platonism. They are always rhetorical, and usually careless of philosophical consistency.

Of course, under the reign of fate and of absolute law, the freedom of the will must be denied. A delusive freedom of the will was, however, imagined; and the will was supposed capable of self-determination by voluntary acquiescence in the necessity to which it was subjected. Freedom was entire submission to the law of nature and the compulsion of fate. Such, too, was the freedom of the Divinity: "semper paret, semel jussit." It was the same sort of freedom which is conceded to the will by Spinoza; but it sufficed as an apparent and precarious basis for the Stoic resolution. If there is no freedom of will or of action, and if everything proceeds from intrinsic necessity and is controlled by fate, evil can have no positive or real existence. Physical evil is, with Zeno, the incompleteness or imperfection of parts, which is requisite to the perfection of the whole. Moral evil was admitted as a counterpart of good, and as a consequence of the inharmonious admixture of constituents in humanity. But it was maintained that there was no evil for the virtuous; that "all things work together for good to them that love God, and that the good and wise man is wholly impeccable.

III. Ethics. — From the nature of man and the nature of evil, the transition is immediate to the domain of morals, which is occupied with the proprieties (τὰ καθήκοντα) of human conduct. This part of the doctrine constitutes the essence of the Stoic scheme. It was prosecuted by the sect, in theory and practice, with even greater earnestness than by their Cyrenaic predecessors, of whom it was said

Τὴν δ᾿ ἀρετὴν παρὰ γράμμα διώκοντες κατέτριβον For this branch all the rest of the elaborate Stoic system was devised. Nevertheless, it was treated with much diversity by different leaders of the school. The divisions of the subject were numerous and varying, often painfully minute, and frequently irreconcilable with each other. There was looseness of distribution, as, elsewhere in the Stoic system, and needless refinement in the intricate distinctions and subdivisions. We are expressly told, as might easily have been conjectured, that the subject was more simply treated by Zeno than by Chrysippus and the followers and imitators of Chrysippus. The leading topics, and these alone can claim our attention here, are essentially the same. They are the "summum bonum," or highest good; the ultimate aim of life (finis); the regulation of the passions; and the ordering of life." The highest good, with which the ultimate aim of life connects itself, is true happiness and its prosecution. Herillus made this scope or end knowledge, deviating in this regard from the general opinion of his sect (Cicero, De Fin. 5, 25). Happiness can be attained solely by conformity to the order of nature, and requires willing obedience to the operations of universal law. Obedience is inevitable; but the wise and good man yields it with full consent; the fool and the knave vainly resist it ("Melius est ire quam ferri"). Law is equivalent to good, and good to law. The good, the useful, and the proper are strictly identical. All things are good that tend to the attainment of the supreme good; all things are evil that oppose or obstruct its attainment. There are only two contrasts, "bonum et turpe; " all good things are equally good. There is no distinction of things evil; all are equally bad. "He who violates one tittle of the law violates the whole law." The only opposition is between the good and the bad. But this unyielding uniformity, this hard antagonism, could not be maintained in the practical experiences of life. A system of accommodations was demanded. An intermediate term was accordingly introduced. A large class of accidents and actions — health, wealth, strength, honor, station, influence, etc. — was ranged under the wide head of things indifferent (ἀδιάφορα). This relaxation appears to have been introduced by Zeno's immediate pupil, Aristo of Chios. Things indifferent might become either good or evil, according to the use which might be made of them, or the service which they might be apt at any time to render. Whenever they were instrumentalities for the attainment of the "summum bonum," they were good; when they prevented or impeded its attainment, they were bad. When they did neither, they remained colorless and neutral. There were many distinctions, subdistinctions, and quasi distinctions in regard to indifferences which must be passed over. There was manifold, but not very important, diversity of opinion in regard to things indifferent. Ingenious efforts were continually made to

"divide A hair 'twixt south and southwest side."

The Stoic subtlety and cavillation, the Stoic legerdemain with words and principles, and the infinitesimal diversifications of the sect were nowhere more conspicuous than in the department of ethics. The Stoic school furnishes a singular anticipation of theological casuistry. Its acute but misapplied distinctions aid contradistinctions find a counterpart in the controversies between the Franciscans and the Fratricelli about the interpretation of the Mendicant vow of absolute poverty. Happiness, the great aim of life, can be hopefully pursued only by the constant observance of the laws of nature: "convenienter naturae vivere" (Cicero, De Fin. 3, 7, 26). This is virtue, conformity to law, the law of human nature and the law of the universe. It is also the law of God, who is himself under the, law.

It is from this conception of the universality and universal obligation of law that is derived the Stoic idea of a "state of nature" and of the natural equality of all men. The latter dogma was, indeed, pressed upon the acceptance of Zeno and of the later Stoics by the cosmopolitan tendencies of the times, and by the predominant estimation and consideration of the moral character of men. It was pressed to an extreme which was singularly at variance with the prejudices of antiquity. The language of Paul on the subject of the claims of slaves is scarcely as strong as that of Seneca "'Servi sunt.' Immo homines. 'Servi sunt.' Immo contabernales. 'Servi sunt.' Immo humiles amici. 'Servi sunt.' Immo conservi; si cogitaveris tanturmdem in utrosque licere fortunae" (Epist. 5, 47,1, et vide § 10, 11,15).

The accordance with law, the observance of those proprieties which are consonant with nature, cannot be expected without complete exemption from all perturbations and without habitual self-restraint. We are misled by inconsiderate and unregulated impulses which generate passions that blind us to our duties and

"Now melt into sorrow, now madden to crime."

No one is free from such impulses. The vice comes from yielding to them. They are checked and suppressed when reason acts coolly and with assured judgment, and when disciplined habits of thought and feeling have been firmly established. Impulses are rational or irrational according as they are consonant with the dictates of nature or at variance with them. The irrational impulses produce four classes of emotion, springing from defects of imagination and disordered fantasies. These emotions are pleasure, desire, care, fear. Such emotions are mischievous in their tendencies and injurious in themselves. Hence, serene feelings, εὐπαθείαι, were placed in opposition to πάθη), or passions. The undisturbed flow of passive and impassive sentiment was termed εὔροια, and was indispensable to happiness.

It must be manifest that the Stoic fatalism, the absolute and unintermittent reign of physical and moral law, the negative of all freedom of the will, render the pursuit of virtue and of happiness an illusion. Thoughts, passions, actions, consequences, are all necessitated. The wise man has only to submit. Such inconsistencies and absurdities are characteristic of the Stoic doctrine. But the doctrine must be received as it has been delivered; for it is alone true in the estimation of the sect, and out of the sect there is no assurance of happiness. Moreover, man is a reasoning, yet by no means a reasonable animal. It would be a bad thing for the world if man were influenced to pursue the right course by no arguments except those that are valid. The imperfections of the Stoic creed did not prevent its exercising a very potent and a very wholesome influence upon the morality of the world.

The man who upholds and practices the Stoic doctrine, who suppresses all earnest feeling and acts in accordance with reason, with nature, and with law, is virtuous, wise, and happy. To him "no evil thing can come." The requirements, it was recognized, transcend the measure of human capacities; for the universal depravity of man is a Stoic tenet, and one which is necessitated by the Stoic philosophy. In the experience of life it is necessary to divide the Stoic community, theoretical and actual, into two classes — the proficient and the progressive, the saints and the seekers. In like manner actions are divided into perfect, κατορθώματα, and meet, καθήκοντα — a division proposed probably by Zeno himself (Diog. Laert. 7, 25). The wise man is admitted by the Stoics to be, like the "summus orator" of Cicero, a dream an ideal:

"A faultless monster which the world ne'er saw."

To this ideal the genuine Stoic will approximate more or less closely. So far as he approaches it, he will be wise, prudent, virtuous, happy; superior to the accidents of fortune; regardless of the advantages or calamities of life. He may be crushed, but he will not be cast down; frustrated, but not overcome; dishonored, yet without shame; tortured, yet suffering no evil; mangled, but whole in spirit; in every chance and change, self-centered, self-poised, serene, the same. He will always present a steady and unconquered front

"Invicta devictum mente Catonem"

(Seneca, passim, 5. Index; Cicero, De Fin. 3, 7, 26; Plutarch, Compend. Lib. Deperd. etc.; Brucker, Hist. Crit. Phil. 1, 959). When troubles increase beyond remedy; when reasonable hope is extinct; when life offers no prospect of benefit to himself, his country, or his friends; even when weary of existence, the Stoic holds in his own hands the immediate means of redress and escape. A voluntary death, a dignified suicide, a prompt return to the all-receiving bosom of the universe, puts an end to vain struggles, to insurmountable difficulties, or to the faintness of the flesh (Cicero, De Fin. 3, 18, 60, 61).

Long as this notice has been, there has not been space to enter into the interminable details, and developments of the Stoic doctrine. Its aptitude as a creed; its pretensions as a religion, especially in the practical aspects of theology or morality; its quaint agreement with much of the language and some of the dogmas of Christianity, can scarcely be overlooked, and merit most serious consideration. They have attracted the regards of many inquirers. The total diversity of a materialistic Divinity, an unspiritual humanity, and a fatalistic universe separates Stoicism completely from all revealed religion, and brings it, on several sides, into communion with Spinozism; on others, with the material evolution of much recent science. With all its syncretism, its verbal trickeries, its discords, and its excesses, it was certainly a very significant product of Greek speculation and aspiration. While renouncing human sympathies, it enlarged the narrow sentiment of civic nationality into a sense of universal humanity. It made the whole world one (Cicero, De Fin. 3, 14, 62, 63), and converted friendship from, an indulgence into a duty. It extended the conception of law and of moral obligation, and rendered them imperative upon societies and individuals. It checked, reproved, and turned back the growing demoralization of the ancient communities; and it was, probably, an efficacious agency in preparing the pagan world for the gradual but rapid acceptance of Christianity.

IV. Literature. — It is unnecessary to refer to the classic authorities and the historians of philosophy. It will suffice to specify, Lipsius, Manuductio ad Stoic. Phil. (Antw. 1604); Gataker, De Disciplina Stoica (Cantab. 1653); Menagii Obss. ap. Diog. Laert. (Amst. 1692), vol. 2; Tiedemann, Syst. der stoisch. Phil. (Leips. 177-6, 3 vols.); Ravaisson, Essai sur le Stoicisme (Paris, 1856); id. De la Morale des Stoiques (ibid. 1857); Douruf, Du Stoicisme et du Christianisme (ibid. 1863)); Moulie, Le Stoicisme a Rome (ibid. 1865); Zeller, The Stoics, Epicureans, and Sceptics (Lond. 1870); Wegschneider, Ethices Stoicoe Recent. Fund. (Hamb. 1797); Scioppius, Elementa Stoic. Phil. Mor. (Mayence, 1608); Lilii De Stoica Phil. Mor. (Altona, 1800); Meyer, Stoic. Doctr. Eth. cum Chr. Comparata (Götting. 1823); Munding, Die Grundsätze der stoisch. Mor. (Rotterd. 1846); Heintze, Stoic. de Afectibus Doctrina (Wittenb. 1861); id. Stoicorum Ethica (Naumb. 1862); Hanse, Stoicorum de Fato Doctrina (Nuremb. 1859); Thomasius, De Stoicor. Mundi Exustione (Leips. 1672); Sonntag, De Palingenesia Stoica (Jena, 1700); Zimmermann, Quoe Ratio Phil. Stoic. sit cum Rel. Rom. (Erlangen, 1858); Laferriere, Mem. conc. l'Influence du Stoicisme sur las Doctrine des Jurisconsultes Rom. (Paris, 1860); Winter, Stoicorum Pantheismus (Wittemb. 1863); The Ancient Stoics, in Oxford Essays (1865); Toullotte, Hist. de la Phil. des Emp. depuis Cesar (Paris, 1822). SEE STOICS. (G.F.H.)

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.