Stoicismis Still Relevant in the 21st Century
Stoicismis Still Relevant in the 21st Century
Stoicismwas developed around 300 B.C. to improve the ideas of cynicism. Thephilosophy was invented in Athens during a time when the ancientGreek needed peace and a sense of brotherhood amidst warfare andcrisis after the premature death of Alexander the Great (Epictetus &White, 1983). Stoicism teaches fortitude and control to overcomedestructive emotions. Stoics believe that the fate that underlieseverything in the universe was developed in a logical manner. Hence,Stoicism explains ways through which people can understand how toalleviate suffering. It presents ideas that align with people’sdesire for a good life (Robertson, 2010). However, it is important torecognize that Stoicism does not seek to eliminate emotions, butrather to transform those feelings so that a person can remain calmand make a clear judgment (Epictetus & White, 1983). As a result,a person can attain the ultimate goal of freedom from suffering.Stoicism is not just a set of ethical claims and beliefs, but also away of life, which requires incorporating logic and self-dialogue toremain in present times. Therefore,the ideas of Stoicism are still relevant in the 21st century becausethey discuss the importance of positive control in times of hardshipsand promote good leadership skills.
Theconcept of tranquility and rational judgment is relevant to theeconomic difficulties encountered in this century. The ideas werebuilt for hard times because they were developed in a world fallingapart. Accordingly, Stoicism offered peace and security to the Greekworld in periods of crisis and warfare (Epictetus & White, 1983).Although Stoicism did not guarantee material security or peace afterdeath, it promised constant happiness in this life. The conceptexplains that the inner self cannot be destroyed by the economichardships in daily life. For example, it explains that the world cantake everything from a person such as a career and loved ones, butdoes not hurt an individual’s inner self (Epictetus & White,1983). Conversely, someone can cry due to pain or disappointment, buthe or she has to stay calm despite the hardships. Hence, anindividual can remain happy even when they encounter challenges anddifficulties.
Thenagain, Stoicism offers freedom from the emotions that controlpeople’s feelings (Robertson, 2010). Theteachings were designed for the world experiencing some form of chaossuch as the modern financial crisis. These thoughts are applicable inthis century where people are losing their jobs and sources of incomedue to the inflation or economic crisis. For example, people areadopting various techniques to cope with the challenges and problemsof the modernized world. Therefore, Stoicism fits into this worldbecause it teaches people how to improve life by determining the mostworthwhile thing in life and developing effective ways of achievingit (Robertson,2010).
Stoicismis the philosophy of good leadership skills. The ideas of Stoicismteach that before a person can control different events in life, butit is important first to monitor them. For that reason, a person’sattempt to change various things is subject to disappointment andfailure, but controlling oneself is the only thing that can succeed(Bowman, 2014). The philosophy helps people learn how to earn therespect of others despite failures. Forexample, businesses in the twenty-first century encounter variouschallenges due to constant changes and increased competition.However, when one applies the Stoic ideas, they learn how to becomebetter and happier by handling their problems logically(Robertson, 2010).
Accordingly,an entrepreneur sees the advantage of handling misfortune to makethem stronger leaders in the face of hardship. For example, managinga problem transforms the obstacle into an opportunity to becomestronger and better leaders. Additionally, when a leader remembersthat they are just a small part of the greater universe, then itkeeps their pride manageable and in perspective when they achievegreat things (Robertson, 2010). Itis understandable that entrepreneurs need to have an unshakable faithin their abilities and big dreams about the future of their ventures,which drives them to achieve greatness. However, the entrepreneurscan benefit from self-control and humility.As to Epictetus & White explains, “with every accident, anindividual should ask themselves what abilities they have for makingproper use of it” (1983).
Onthe other hand, Stoicism fits in with globalization and unity. Theworld in which Stoicism was invented was narrow-minded where mostpeople held age-old ideas on divisions in religion, nationality, andstatus (Bowman, 2014). Nonetheless, the philosophy of Stoicismteaches the people the idea of universal brotherhood, which broughttogether many races and religions. Besides, Stoicism encourages newthinking to improve the current situation. For example, the ideas ofStoicism can be applied in today’s racially diverse world.Globalization has people from different races and ethnicity together.Therefore, if these people can follow the Stoics teaching, they canlearn to respect each other, which would eliminate conflicts in thesociety.
However,some oppose the idea that everything in life is predetermined by adivine being or fate (Bowman, 2014). Even the simplest decisions aredetermined thus, events cannot be changed. Hence, critics indicatethat human beings cannot be free because they are already chained tothe predetermined nature of things. On the other hand, Stoics believethat a person can alter their character. Therefore, if an individualis free to change their behavior, then human beings can be both freeand not free in some aspects of life. On the contrary, criticsexplain that if an individual accepts that he or she is not freethus, it becomes meaningless to advise that person to alter his orher behavior to attain happiness because everything is alreadypredetermined. On the other hand, if people are free to change theirbehavior, then the whole idea that everything is prearranged by adivine being or fate must be false. Additionally, many peoplecriticize the theory on the basis that it promotes indifference. Somepeople argue that being indifferent, especially in a time of grief,would seem heartless. Moreover, if people are to be unemotional toall things, then some actions that are taken seriously, such asmurder, are no longer viewed as immoral (Bowman, 2014).
Nonetheless,Stoics views the world as an ecosystem where both living andnon-living things are connected. The Stoics were also naturalisticwho believed that human logic could understand the world and discovertheir place in the natural order (Robertson, 2010). Thus, they haddeterministic ideas about nature, but they also accepted that peoplehad a sense of free will and the power to change unethical behavior.The purpose of the philosophy was to help people recognize and rejectfalse ideas thus, have the will to change their actions. Incontrast, the Stoics do not believe that people’s character isentirely predetermined. Although most things in life are alreadyplanned out, it is within people’s ability to reason and altertheir moral behavior. However, some things are within an individual’spower and some that are beyond. According to Epictetus & White,“some things are in our power to be avoided such as wrong choices,bad aims, and bad character traits hence, these things are by natureunrestricted. Furthermore, work is being able to overcome the harshappearance and accepting that some things are unavoidable and cannotbe changed” (1983)
Thenagain, Stoics considered death natural and inevitable. People shouldgrief because it is healthy, but life has to go on. Consequently,Stoicism does not dismiss the idea of pain entirely. Instead, itteaches that people should allow themselves time to grief, but theyhave to understand that the pain will end. Besides, Stoics recognizethat pain and suffering are part of human life. Epictetus & Whiteindicate that, “if a person is in pain, he or she should find thestrength to go on with life” (1983). Therefore, the idea of dealingwith emotions is not total indifference, but rather finding a way ofthose feelings in a more productive manner.
Inconclusion, the ancient philosophy of Stoicism primarily focused onhow people can achieve self-sufficiency and peace of mind. Althoughthe philosophical ideas of Stoicism were invented with the thought ofa world in chaos, the concept is still applicable even to datebecause they promote good leadership, unity, and gives peoplestrategies of dealing with hardships. The world is alwaysexperiencing various economic problems, which causes people to losetheir jobs, means of livelihood, and the source of their financialsecurity. The ideas of Stoicism that teaches tranquility give peoplean option to overcome these challenges by remaining positive andfinding happiness. Conversely, leadership has become an importantaspect of business mainly due to globalization and increasedcompetition. Therefore, Stoicism ideas to overcome disappointment andcommand respect despite one’s failures are important when improvingleadership skills. It also helps people to remember that they arejust a small part of the greater universe, which keeps their pride incontrol when they achieve great things. Stoicism has proved helpfulin the 21st century, despite the criticism that it promotesindifference, which can be interpreted as being insensitive.Furthermore, some people argue that Stoicism theories arecontradicting because they indicate that human beings are free, butthey also live a predetermined life. Nevertheless, these criticismsare not entirely based on facts because Stoicism does not advocatefor insensitive reaction to grief or other painful experiences.Instead, it teaches people about how to deal with such emotions in aproductive manner rather than letting their pain become destructive.Then again, people have the power to control some things in theirlife however, some events occur naturally. Ultimately, Stoicism isnot about giving systematic discussions of how or why the worldexists. Instead, it offers tips and reminders for living a betterlife to achieve happiness.
Bowman,J. L. (2014). Areference guide to Stoicism: A compilation of the principle Stoicwritings on various topics.Bloomington, Indiana: Authorhouse.
Epictetus& White, N. P. (1983). TheHandbook of Epictetus.Indianapolis: Hackett Press.
Robertson,D. (2010). Thephilosophy of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): Stoic philosophyas rational and cognitive psychotherapy.London: Karnac.