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Stoicism

(from Gk. Stoa [Poikile], “Painted Portico,” where Zeno* of Citium taught in Athens). Greco-Roman school of philos, founded ca. 300 BC by Zeno; divided philos, into logic (including definitions, syllogisms, paradoxes, etymology, grammar, dialectic, rhetoric), physics (including metaphysics, astronomy, religion, anthropology, psychology), and ethics.* Earlier Stoics (e.g., Chrysippus [3d c. BC; b. Soli, Cilicia; disciple of Cleanthes*]; Diogenes of Babylonia [or of Seleucia; 2d c. BC]) stressed logic, later Stoics (e.g., Epictetus*) stressed ethics.

Stoicism is a form of materialistic monism.* It is deterministic, regarding God as the all-pervading energy (spirit, pneuma), law, and reason (logos) that gives order and beauty to the world. Some regard Stoicism as pantheistic, others as panentheistic.

In ethics man must recognize that he cannot change the predetermined course of events; his function is to bring his will, which is free, into harmony with what happens, “to live according to scientific knowledge of the phenomena of nature” (Chrysippus). He can do this because he is kin to God. Absolutely self-sufficient, he can practice the Stoic virtues: practical wisdom, bravery, justice, self-control. He is not bound to things or life itself.

Despite similarities bet. Stoicism and Christianity, Stoic and Christian ethics are mutually exclusive. EK

E. V. Arnold, Roman Stoicism (New York, 1911); E. R. Bevan, Stoics and Sceptics (New York, 1913); M. Pohlenz, Die Stoa, 2 vols. (Göttingen, 1948–49); J. N. Sevenster, Paul and Seneca (Leiden, 1961 ).


Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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