When the Stoics Make a Bad First Impression

Despite all the glowingly positive things I have to say about Stoic philosophy on this blog, the truth is that Stoicism made a really bad first impression with me. It’s been a lesson to me in the dangers of judging a philosophy too quickly!

Like perhaps most people, my early exposure to the Stoic writers left me with the impression that they were a pretty cheerless, risk-averse bunch who suppressed their emotions and had strangely stiff notions of what “appropriate” behavior ought to be.

They struck me as obsessed with eliminating uncomfortable emotions, and as indifferent to the events around them. Epictetus’ Enchiridion 1, probably the most famous summary of Stoic practice, did nothing for me at all. I didn’t see the big deal about the dichotomy of control (what is so great about cutting yourself off from the outside world?). And when I got to Enchiridion 33, where he basically straight-up recommends that we be no fun at parties and enjoins us not to “laugh much, or at many things, or without restraint,” I had had enough.

Continue reading “When the Stoics Make a Bad First Impression”


Introducing “Stoics in Action”

We are excited to introduce http://www.stoicsinaction.org as the new extended home of the Stoics for Justice group!  I will continue posting here on Euthyphroria with personal reflections on Stoic practice from time to time, but I expect that I’ll be doing more writing at Stoics in Action from now on.

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Stoics in Action is devoted to promoting and developing socially-engaged Stoicism as a vibrant way of life. We have three basic aims:

  1. To show the world by example that—contrary to popular belief—Stoicism is an active, affectionate, philanthropic, and politically engaged way of life.
  2. To provide a forum for contemporary Stoics to develop and refine their approach to social life in six key domains: family, career, service, politics, the environment, and intersectional identities.
  3. To provide a nexus for Stoics to organize joint philanthropic projects, and/or to share tips and resources on how to get involved with service.

Read more in the introductory post: Introducing “Stoics in Action”!

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