What is Stoicism?

Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. It is a complete philosophy informed by an integrated system of Logic, Physics and Ethics. Stoics believe that, as social beings, the path to eudaimonia (happiness) is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or by the fear of pain. This is achieved by using one’s mind to understand the world and to do one’s part in nature’s plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly.

Stoics teach that virtue is the only good for human beings, and those external things—such as health, wealth, and pleasure, are not good or bad in themselves, but have value as “material for virtue to act upon.” Certain destructive emotions result from errors of judgment, and people should aim to maintain a will (prohairesis) that is “in accordance with nature.” Because of this, the Stoics believe that the best indication of an individual’s philosophy is not what a person says but how a person behaves. To live a good life, one must understand the rules of the natural order.

The College of Stoic Philosophy is dedicated to the traditional Stoic philosophy, and has developed a contemporary curriculum which attempts to replicate the approach taken in Stoic schools of ancient Greece and Rome.