Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Stoic Path: Stoicism in a Nutshell

A little more history on the Stoic tradition. It's not so much an alternate way of seeing the world, but a practical interpretation of the philosophical tradition initiated by Socrates and developed by Plato. Stoicism strips away the scarier bits of Platonism and brings the ideas down to the world of the living and shows us mere mortals what is is we ought to do to live a fulfilling life. And what we ought to do to be happy is to follow the natural moral guidelines that devolve from a close look at the natural world. These are in a nutshell: 1) we are social animals with a highly developed rational capacity; 2) this rational capacity connects all rational beings in the universe because it is a manifestation of the operation of physical Laws operating upon the neural network encapsulated within our physical bodies; 3) these physical laws are real and measurable yet immutable and impossible to change - thus perfect; 4) humans at the level of reason are thus perfect and invincible.

“If it is not right, do not do it; if it is not true, do not say it”

Russell McNeil, PhD, is the author of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: Selections Annotated and Explained by Skylight Paths Publishing.

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