Stoicism tells us that no happiness can be secure if it’s rooted in changeable, destructible things. Our bank accounts can grow or shrink, our careers can prosper or falter, even our loved ones can be taken from us. There is only one place the world can’t touch: our inner selves, our choice at every moment to be brave, to be reasonable, to be good.
The world might take everything from us; Stoicism tells us that we all have a fortress on the inside. The Stoic philosopher Epictetus, who was born a slave and crippled at a young age, wrote: “Where is the good? In the will…If anyone is unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone.”
Meh. I’ve mentioned before my ambivalence about Stoicism, but Peter Watson tips the scales slightly further toward disapproval for me:
During the first millenium BC, however, attitudes towards animals began to shift. The turning point appears to have come with Aristotle and the Stoics. According to the Stoics, animals are aloga, creatures without reason or belief. The Greeks reanalysed animals’ psychological capacities, Aristotle concluding that tame animals are superior to wild ones. Since animals had no reason, the Stoics concluded that they were made for the use of humans, a view that was taken over by Jews and Christians and finds expression in the bible.