While re-reading Deleuze's "Logic of Sense", I once again stumbled upon the Stoic Philosophy which existed in ancient Greece circa 300 BC. This philosophic school of thought strikes me as having some surprisingly prevailing features. Reason enough for a Definition and Resource.
Stoicism (Greek Στοά) was a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC. The Stoics considered destructive
emotions to be the result of errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection,"
would not suffer such emotions.
Stoics were concerned with the active relationship between cosmic determinism
and human freedom, and the belief
that it is virtuous
to maintain a will (called prohairesis)
that is in accord with nature. Because of this, the Stoics presented
their philosophy as a way of life, and they thought that the best
indication of an individual's philosophy was not what a person said but
how he behaved.
Later Stoics, such as Seneca and Epictetus,
emphasized that because "virtue is sufficient for happiness," a sage
was immune to misfortune. This belief is similar to the meaning of the
phrase 'stoic calm', though the phrase does not include the "radical
ethical" Stoic views that only a sage can be considered truly
free, and that all moral corruptions are equally vicious.
||Philosophy does not promise to secure anything external for man, otherwise it would be admitting something
that lies beyond its proper subject-matter. For as the material of the
carpenter is wood, and that of statuary bronze, so the subject-matter of
the art of living is each person's own life.
The Stoics provided a unified account of the world, consisting of formal logic,
and naturalistic ethics.
Of these, they emphasized ethics as the main focus of human knowledge,
though their logical theories were to be of more interest for many later
Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions;
the philosophy holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows
one to understand the universal reason (logos). A
primary aspect of Stoicism involves improving the individual’s ethical
and moral well-being: "Virtue consists in a will which is
in agreement with Nature."
This principle also applies to the realm of interpersonal
relationships; "to be free from anger, envy, and jealousy,"
and to accept even slaves as "equals of other men, because all alike
are sons of God."
The Stoic ethic espouses a deterministic perspective; in regards to those who lack Stoic virtue, Cleanthes once opined that the wicked man is "like
a dog tied to a cart, and compelled to go wherever it goes."
A Stoic of virtue, by contrast, would amend his will to suit the world
and remain, in the words of Epictetus, "sick and yet happy, in peril and
yet happy, dying and yet happy, in exile and happy, in disgrace and
thus positing a "completely autonomous" individual will, and at the
same time a universe that is "a rigidly deterministic single whole."
Deleuze gives this classic philosophy a postmodern turning:
some excerpts from Logic of Sense
// the eighteenth series of the three images of philosophers:
First Image: Ascenders
"The popular and the technical image of the Philosopher seem to have been set by Platonism: the philosopher is a being of ascents; he is the one who leaves the cave and rises up. The more he rises the more he is purified. [...] Height is the properly Platonic Orient. The philosopher's work is always determined as an ascent and a conversion, that is, as the movement of turning toward the high principle from which the movement proceeds and also of being determined, fulfilled, and known in the guise of such a motion. [...] Idealism is the illness congenital of the Platonic Philosophy, and, with its litany of ascents and downfalls, it is even philosophy's manic-depressive form. Mania inspires and guides Plato. [...] And even in the death of Socrates there is a trace of a depressive suicide."
Second Image: Descenders
"The Pre-Socratic Philosopher does not leave the cave: on the contrary, he thinks we are not involved enough or sufficently engulfed therein. In Theseus story, he rejects the thread: "WHat does your ascending path matter to us, your thread leading outside, leading to happiness and virtue...? Do you wish to save us with this thread? As for us, we ask you in earnest to hang yourself with this thread!" [...] And, as is the case of Empedocles' smashing the statues, they philophized with a hammer, the hammer of the geologist and the speleologist. In a deluge of water and fire, the volcano spits up only a single reminder of Empedocles - his lead sandal.To the wings of the Platonic Soul, the Sandal of Empedocles is opposed, proving that he was of the earth, under the earth, and autochthonous. To the Beating of the Platonic Wing there corresponds the Pre-Socratic Hammerblow."
Third Image: Stoicism
"With the Megarians, Cynics and Stoics, we have the beginning of a new philosopher and a new kind of anecdote [...] On one hand, the philosopher eats with great gluttony, he stuffs himself; he masturbates in public, regretting that hunger cannot be so easily relieved; he does not condemn incest with the mother, the sister, or the daughter; he tolerates canniblaism and anthropophagy - but, in fact, he is also extremely sober and chaste. On the other hand, he keeps quiet when people ask him questions or gives them a blow with his staff. If you pose abstract or difficult questions, he will respond by designating some bit of food, or will give you a whole box of food which he will then break over you - always with a blow of his staff. [...]
the hero of the entire Stoic thought is Herkules. Herkules is always situated relative to the three realms of the infernal abyss, the celestial height and surface of the earth. Inside the depth, he comes across only frightening combinations and mixtures; in the sky he finds only emptiness and celestial monsters duplicating those of the inferno. As for the earth, he is its pacifier and surveyor, and even treads over the surface of the waters. He always ascends or descends to the surface in every conceivable manner.He brings back the Hell-Hound and the Celestial Hound, the serpent of Hell and the serpent of Heavens. It is no longer a question of Dionysus down below, or Apollo up above, but Herkules of the surface, in his dual battle against both depth and height: reorientation of the entire thought and a new geography."