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Is stoicism the antithesis of progressivism?

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June 15, 2021, 12:05 PM
stickman428
Is stoicism the antithesis of progressivism?
By chance I came across a video on stoic philosophy in the movie Gladiator. This led me to begin researching stoicism. I began reading the teachings of Epictetus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. The rejection of emotion, value of reason and focus on that which is within ones direct control really stuck out.

Stoicism is defined very simply as the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint. The focus on that which is within your control over that which is not.

A more detailed definition would be an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded at Athens by Zeno of Citium. The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge; the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason (also identified with Fate and Providence) that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain.

Progressivism I would define as the perpetual quest to discover new problems and victims in society and then helping them. If no problems are obvious you create them then try to find out how they victimize you or others. Progress for the sake of progress with little to no regard for tradition, or why something exists and completely absent of questioning whether one might be making things worse in the name of progress. Ok I wrote that definition and you might disagree but I believe it accurately represents the spirit of progressivism right now.

The interwebs definition of progressivism. noun [ U ] us/prəˈɡres·ɪˌvɪz·əm/ social studies. a social or political movement that aims to represent the interests of ordinary people through political change and the support of government actions.

Maybe I am comparing apples to oranges but the two concepts seem to be at odds with one another. Am I wrong to oversimplify one as the acceptance of problems and focus on that which we can influence and overcome and the other as the endless search for problems for the sake of progress?


This is the video that started my thoughts on the subject.


June 15, 2021, 01:07 PM
sigcrazy7
For a few years now I've had an Epictetus quote in my signature line. I began reading the Enchiridion as a kind of rejection of the run-away progressive philosophy that has permeated everything in modern society, and I reread it every now and then.

While I subscribe more to the Stoics than to the predecessor, Cynicism, I do enjoy everything Diogense. While I'm not ready to give up my possessions and live in a wine barrel, I find the idea that one can be in harmony with his surroundings/nature to be appealing.

Most progressives, having been educated in an American university, know nothing of the Classics. It's too white, or colonial, or male, or whatever offends them today.



Demand not that events should happen as you wish; but wish them to happen as they do happen, and you will go on well. -Epictetus
June 15, 2021, 03:22 PM
stoic-one
Yes. Razz


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June 15, 2021, 03:39 PM
Il Cattivo
That's odd - I always thought that reflexive and dignified stoicism is what allowed progressivism to flourish.
June 15, 2021, 03:42 PM
stickman428
Wasn’t there an Ivy League college that recently all but declared war on classical philosophy and canceled it because of whiteness or some racist ignorant mess like that?

It’s probably because reading the works of Stoicism completely obliterates the stupid as fuck idea cancer that is progressivism.

Progressivism is void of allowing people to ask actual real questions. It may have started with good intentions but it’s slowly morphing into a hybrid version of fascism/nazism IMO.
June 15, 2021, 03:47 PM
odin
My wife describes me as stoic: I don't show emotion. I have a high tolerance to pain. When hurt, I don't show it but, being a nurse, she can see the physical effects and wonder why I don't complain! It's also the same response when someone disses me....
June 15, 2021, 04:05 PM
Aglifter
Stoicism, and it’s combination with Christianity, is the foundation of Western Civ.
June 15, 2021, 04:06 PM
Aglifter
To a large extent, due to the focus on “truth as it actually is” vs “truth as it should be.”
July 05, 2021, 11:19 PM
P220 Smudge
Remembered seeing this thread and wanted to give it a bump.

My job allows for listening to audio books, music and podcasts, and I've consumed a wealth of information since last October, when I started. Most recently, I've been watching documentaries on ancient Egypt and Rome while I assemble various things (where appropriate) and last week, youtube recommended an audiobook: Marcus Aurelius' Meditations.

Lessons for life and being a good human being. Values that haven't been eclipsed or really improved upon in nearly two thousand years. I think I'm going to dive into some of the other Stoic writings - it seems like a better way to think about life as a whole, especially in the times we live in today. I'm only as deep as book seven, but I already see what Stickman is getting at with this thread: the acceptance of life as it is, and valuing the moments we live as if they will be our last, and living simply, and accepting one's place in society and striving to live that role to our utmost... these are things that seem, to me, to be anathema to modern progressivism.

As I said, I've been listening to an audiobook of it at work lately, but it's so dense, I'm ordering a used copy I can mark up. This is not just a book, it's a manual for living, and I think it would do me good to actually study it and try to integrate much of it into my outlook on life.




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July 06, 2021, 12:19 AM
Hume
Yes, it is. And all posts above are good guides to help anyone become a Stoic.

Stoics believe the human mind is universal, and I agree.
July 06, 2021, 12:25 AM
mlazarus
I would probably be more inclined to describe stoicism as accepting that which you cannot control or change. Not necessarily being free of feelings. Adapting stoicism into my life has helped me tremendously. If one is looking for a primer, The Daily Stoic, by Ryan Holiday is a good introduction and very digestible.


Ignem Feram
July 06, 2021, 08:13 AM
joel9507
The Enchiridion of Epictetus is my bathroom reading, has been for years.
July 06, 2021, 11:08 AM
P220 Smudge
quote:
Originally posted by mlazarus:
I would probably be more inclined to describe stoicism as accepting that which you cannot control or change. Not necessarily being free of feelings.


Yes, this is my understanding of it also, so far. Have emotions and be human, but do not let them rule you. Stoicism seems to be a school of thought, like many others, that seeks to soothe the agony that is living. Much of spirituality says that life is suffering and goes from there, in terms of what to do about it. Stoicism seems to say “endure it and enjoy it, and here’s some thoughts on how.”


______________________________________________
I believe in the 25th amendment.
July 06, 2021, 02:04 PM
stickman428
It is impossible for a human not to have emotions. Stoicism isn’t about being emotionless but rather for one to seek complete control over their emotions and not display them publicly. Complete control of ones emotions all the time is basically impossible. To seek to control ones emotions as much as possible is a good thing to strive for. Compare this thought process to progressive ideology where feelings are valued above all with only the select title of victim being placed higher in their value hierarchy.

The acceptance of the inevitably of bad things happening and the emphasis on controlling emotions by focusing on that which is directly within your control verses that which is not are the main reasons I asked the question is stoicism the antithesis of progressivism.
July 06, 2021, 02:48 PM
apprentice
Just don't let stoicism stop your joy. There is precious little of that in life so embrace it whenever possible.

As for your definition of progressivism, I'm not sure. I like progress, it keeps me from being a cave dweller. That's what I like to think of when I hear something is progressive anyway.

What I believe you mean is progressive liberalism, which should be altogether different. Or do I misunderstand?
July 06, 2021, 10:23 PM
mlazarus
quote:
Originally posted by apprentice:
Just don't let stoicism stop your joy. There is precious little of that in life so embrace it whenever possible.

As for your definition of progressivism, I'm not sure. I like progress, it keeps me from being a cave dweller. That's what I like to think of when I hear something is progressive anyway.

What I believe you mean is progressive liberalism, which should be altogether different. Or do I misunderstand?


Embracing the tenants of stoicism has increased my enjoyment of life in great degrees. Understanding that there are things that I cannot control, helps eleviate stressors. Recognizing that a problem is an opportunity for growth or development can change perspective.


Ignem Feram
July 06, 2021, 10:38 PM
flashguy
The Serenity Prayer.

flashguy




Texan by choice, not accident of birth
September 14, 2021, 11:01 AM
stickman428
“Free yourself from the pain of insults and see how he who had aimed to harm you had only done harm to himself”

It’s a hell of a lot easier said than done but damn if it isn’t right. I observed something recently that 100% proved this quote to be correct.


mlazarus, discovering and embracing stoic philosophy has been a positive thing for me as well. Especially when dealing with difficult people and situations.
September 14, 2021, 11:20 AM
P220 Smudge
quote:
Originally posted by flashguy:
The Serenity Prayer.

flashguy


In a nutshell, yes. Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is like a detailed “how to” of that prayer.


______________________________________________
I believe in the 25th amendment.
September 14, 2021, 11:34 AM
myrottiety
quote:
Originally posted by odin:
My wife describes me as stoic: I don't show emotion. I have a high tolerance to pain. When hurt, I don't show it but, being a nurse, she can see the physical effects and wonder why I don't complain! It's also the same response when someone disses me....


I'm not a nurse but operate similar. I also notice something similar with friends or people in my life. You are either "In" and I'll break my back for you. Or you are "Out" and I honestly wouldn't miss you if you were hit by a bus. I don't find a lot of gray area in this spot.

I don't really study stoicism. But would describe my self as Stoic. My wife can be a emotional being as women can. Sometimes it drives her nuts.

I remember watching my 6 month old son get a IV put in where he came down with RSV. The Doc asked me if I had a problem and was going to hit him. I realized I was just serial killer calm and it made him uneasy. Where most parents are freaking out.




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