Ethics of Stoicism

Stoicism is a philosophy of living a life of virtue, developed around -0300 in Greece. “Virtue” means living in accordance with a rational principle that is found in nature, or to live reasonably. Stoics consider that the entire cosmos has a soul-like spiritual quality (God?) that is found in everything. The ethics of Stoicism aims to be consistent with a natural reasoning found in all the cosmos. Stoic ethics, like the ethics of Confucius several hundred years earlier in China, also portrayed dynamic ethical interactions as a series of concentric circles with natural and “appropriate” connections expanding outward from the core.

Stoicism – [abu.nb.ca]

According to Stoic ethical theory, the stage in which a human being merely keeps himself alive leads to the stage in which he chooses the good and rejects the bad; this leads to the exercise of choice out of a sense of duty of which he is not fully conscious. The fourth stage is the state of continuously making the correct choice. The final stage of ethical development sees the individual abstracting from experience and forming general ideas about good and evil. This results in an understanding of the natural order of the cosmos to which choices are to be made to conform. In other words, he sees the harmony of the Whole, which is the good, because the harmony is nature. He then chooses to conform to the harmonious Whole, being fully conscious of its nature through abstraction.

Cosmopolitanism – [wikepedia.org]

A common way to understand Stoic cosmopolitanism is through Hierocles’ circle model of identity that states that we should regard ourselves as concentric circles, the first one around the self, next immediate family, extended family, local group, citizens, countrymen, humanity. The task of world citizens becomes then to “draw the circles somehow towards the centre, making all human beings more like our fellow city dwellers, and so forth.”


The Illusion of Philosophical Solution: Cicero and a (Mis)Use of Stoic oikeiosis
– [apaclassics.org]

Stoic philosophers believed that the universe (and all systems within it) was comprised of three parts: logos, pneuma, and tonos. Each part occupied a specific place, and formed a natural attachment to the part next to it in the sequence. The Stoic theory of oikeiosis appealed to this process of attachment: via oikeiosis man accessed the external world. Hierocles pictured this system as a series of concentric circles. At the center was the individual; closest to him was the oikos, then the city, other cities, the country, the human race, and the world. Hierocles suggested that an individual contract the circles, with the eventual aim of making all things part of his oikos. Thus, oikeiosis was a process of moving out into the world, and a system of appropriating the world into the self.

SEE ALSO:
Ethics of Confucius
Ethics vs Morals

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