Stoicism and The Red Pill: The Connection (pt. 3)

“It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable.” – Seneca

Based on the analysis done in part 1 and 2 of the series, it can be gathered that Stoicism offers men a unique perspective to life and how to carry about one’s self. The philosophy urges men to elevate themselves to greater than the average both mentally and physically.

One of the main beliefs Stoicism teaches that relates directly with the Red Pill is the concept of Frame. The philosophy teaches men this concept through the concept of following the hands of rationality in all things. Regardless of the circumstance, Stoicism instructs men to not to fall prey to our strongest psychological impulses. However, It must be noted that Stoicism does not teach one to become emotionless/autistic, but rather to understand emotions at their source and act/react accordingly. The view is that man should not be psychologically subject to anything – manipulated or moved by it, rather than yourself being actively and positively in command of your reactions and responses to things as they occur or are in prospect. It implies a sense of mastering self-sufficiency in life, which is also what the Red Pill advocates. Moreover, Stoicism also instills the concept of having an abundance mentality. The philosophy preaches that men should not to become too attached or bothered by objects/individuals outside of oneself as it will all one day be separated from us. This outlook pushes men to realize that there should not be the pedestalization of persons or things as this will only cause grief.

Lastly, both philosophies teach the refocusing of one’s energy to things that last. As such, both encourage men to continually self improve through the implementation of activities such as working out, learning different languages and mastering your specific craft. The aforementioned does not provide instant gratification but assists men in truly experiencing extraordinary changes in their lives. The philosophy’s ideals on what makes man truly happy is a breath of fresh air in the consumerist world we live in today. It is no coincidence that with the rise in consumerism, people have become less happy with the lives they live. This is due to finding happiness in external sources that do not last.
However, though material wealth objects should not be the source for man’s happiness, some of Stoicism’s greatest philosophers have had positions of power and wealth. Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor never relied on his wealth or status to be happy with life but still strived for excellence and is still deemed today as the one of the most praised and respected emperors to have lived. Niccolò Machiavelli named him as one of the Five Good Emperors who were adopted emperors that earned the respect of those around them through good rule. Seneca, another famous Stoic, lived a life of wealth but was never carried away with a life of grandiosity. At the end he lived such a masculine life that his wife attempted to kill herself when he was forced to commit suicide. As such, Red Pill aware men should indeed push to become the best of men and enjoy the luxuries of life but should also be conscious enough to understand that happiness is not found through materialism.

Closing Thoughts

The Stoic philosophy is one in which every man can adhere to, some deeper than others but the fundamental teachings of the philosophy will help men gain and retain a masculine mindset towards life. In becoming the best version of oneself, I personally see Stoicism as something that at its core, Red Pill aware men should be knowledgeable about because it benefits the way in which life is viewed.

Pertinent Material on Stoicism:

  1. Marcus Aurelius – Meditations

  2. Ralph Waldo Emerson – Self Reliance

  3. Seneca – Letters from a Stoic

  4. Epictetus – Enchiridion

Stoicism and The Red Pill: Ethics (pt. 2)

“Man is the broken giant, and, in all his weakness, both his body and his mind are invigorated by habits of conversation with nature” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Stoicism, as noted in the previous post was founded as an adaptation of another famous Greek school of thought, Cynicism. Though some of the principles seem consistent throughout both philosophies, Zeno of Citium saw the need to tone down a number of the philosophy’s principles to facilitate for real-life practicality. However, even after this toning down, Stoicism is still one of the more life-altering philosophies in the West as it pushes to recreate man into one of complete rationality and self-control. Stoicism therefore is looked at as a practice or exercise in the expertise concerning what is beneficial and what is not. The ideology equates virtue with wisdom and both with a kind of firmness or tensile strength within the commanding faculty of the soul. As a result, Stoicism has never been purely academic or solely theory, but a tradition of self-transformation. Furthermore, the philosophy is described as an eudaemonistic theory, which means that the climax of human endeavor is eudaemonia, meaning happiness. Stoicism’s idea of happiness is rooted in the belief of “living in agreement with nature”. This was seen as living in accordance with the entire universe and also striving toward creating a rationally organized and structured system which goes in tandem with the will of Zeus. This meant that every event that occurs within the universe fits into a coherent and structured scheme that is providential. As a result, the Stoics believed in fate, thus, living in agreement with nature meant that one should conform his will with the events that occur in the rationally structured universe.

This unique perspective also presented itself in the philosophy’s views on what was deemed as ‘good, evil and indifferent’. Stoics defined what was good as what benefits its possessor under all circumstances. As a result of this, virtue was seen as the only thing that was always considered to be ‘good’ since perfected reason had no disadvantages or drawbacks. Objects such as money were not identified as good but rather considered as ‘indifferents’ i.e. neither good nor bad. This was looked at in this way because in all situations, it may not be beneficial to be wealthy (having money may mean that I spend it on things that are not beneficial to me or may harm me, like drugs) and this also applied to health. Characteristic excellences or virtues of human beings were the only things looked at as in complete accordance to nature. Prudence or wisdom, justice, courage and moderation, and other related qualities were all considered virtues. Conversely, the things that were considered “bad” were that of the corruption of reason, specifically vice. It is because of this Stoics strived to live a life without following through with their vices. They drew a distinction between what is good and things which have value (Axia). Some indifferent things, such as health or wealth, have value and therefore are to be preferred even if they are not good, because they are typically appropriately fitting or suitable (Oikeion) for us.

Another intriguing view Stoics held in unique perspective is that of passions. They distinguished passions into 2 primary categories: appetite and fear, and these come about in relation to what appears to us to be either good or bad.

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They are also associated with pleasure and distress, however, these are distinguished from normal impulses because they are excessive impulses which are disobedient to reason. Impulses were defined as a movement of the soul toward an object and though these movements are subject to the capacity for assent in fully rational creatures, impulse is present in all animate things from the moment of birth. The founding Stoics argued that the original impulse of ensouled creatures is toward what is appropriate for them, or aids in their self-preservation, and not toward what is pleasurable. Consequently, Stoics were taught to accept and understand that pain is part of every man’s life and though one should try to avoid it, when we experience pain we should still be good. Famous Stoic writer Marcus Aurelius stated in his quote, “pain which is intolerable carries us off; that which lasts a long time is tolerable and the mind retains its tranquility by retiring into itself. Let those parts which are harmed by pain give their opinion of it if they can”. He went further by advocating that man should never be crushed by anything and If we are dealt the hands of misfortune, do not react irrationally as this can cause further unhappiness and negative consequences. This is seen in his quote, “Remember when vexed that to bear misfortune nobly is good fortune”. These idealistic ethical goals were the main reason why the Stoics were held in such high respect. Since their philosophy preached rationality, living in accordance to the universe and doing good for mankind, many Stoics were able to attain high ranking positions in Greek and Roman society.

On Wednesday I will be posting the last part of the series which will focus on the connection between Stoicism and the Red Pill.

Stoicism and The Red Pill: History (pt. 1)

“For he who is excited by anger seems to turn away from reason with a certain pain and unconscious contraction; but he who offends through desire, being overpowered by pleasure, seems more intemperate and more womanish on his offenses” – Emperor Marcus Aurelius

During my time in the Red Pill community, there have been an eclectic variety of philosophical and religious debates ranging from individuals who are practicing Buddhists, Roman Catholics and Muslims, to a smaller degree. Recently however, I have begun noticing an added interested in the early Greek school of thought, Stoicism. Seeing that I began seriously delving into Stoicism a couple years back, I decided to give a write-up on the philosophy’s history, components and how it can benefit men today. The content would be broken up into 3 posts as to make it much more digestible for you the reader.

History of Stoicism

Stoicism is an ancient Greek philosophical movement that was founded by Zeno of Citium and then officially formed by the three heads of the philosophical school and their pupils and associates, known as Old Stoa, during the Hellenistic period of 3rd century BC. The Old Stoa referred to Zeno of Citium, Cleanthes and Chrysippus. The term “stoic” derives from the porch (stoa poikilê) in the Agora at Athen decorated with mural paintings, where members of the school gathered and lectures were held. The philosophy was created in tandem with the ideas of Cynicism where Cynics preached the idea of rejecting all conventional desires for health, wealth, power and fame, and living a life free from all possessions and property. Zeno and Citium, a student of a Cynic, created Stoicism based on many of the Cynic’s beliefs but toned down many of the principles with real-world practicality where self-control was used as a means of overcoming destructive emotions. As such, the movement was not looked at as solely a belief system or set “commandments” but rather as a way of living ones life. Virtue in agreement with nature was seen as essential to live a life of purpose, which meant that it only called for the bare necessities to exist.

Since the Old Stoa members did not produce complete bodies of work, the philosophy was kept alive through students who were taught by founding members and related teachers. However, in later years, the philosophy met its peak acclaim with the published works some of the most popular Roman Stoic philosophers: Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Epictetus. These philosophers’ work then began to be the driving point of modern Stoicism and this further cemented these individuals as some of the most important philosophers throughout history.

With regard to the philosophy’s founding thought, Stoicism saw humans as interdependent with nature, describing logic as the bones and sinews, and ethics and physics, the flesh and soul respectively. This connection with nature is one of the four central ideas that the philosophy abides by, all four (4) being:

  1. Value: The only thing that is truly good is an excellent mental state, identified with virtue and reason. External things such as money, success, fame and the like can never bring man to true happiness.
  2. Emotions: Emotions are a projection of our judgements and many of our negative emotions are based on mistaken judgement, but because they are due to our judgement, they are within our control.
  3. Nature: The philosophy emphasizes that man ought to live in harmony with nature- meaning that we must acknowledge that we are but small parts of a larger, organic whole that is shaped by large processes that are ultimately out of our control.
  4. Control: Much of our unhappiness is cause by confusing the things in which we can control (judgement and mental state) and things we cannot (external processes and objects). Therefore, in light of the other central ideas of stoicism, we should not let the latter dictate our happiness but should focus on the things we can indeed control, as this will bring us true happiness.

Sunday I will be posting part 2 of the series which will focus on the ethics and ideologies of Stoic’s founding members and its evolution throughout history.