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Nahum

Your thoughts on Stoicism?

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Stoicism as a philosophical system has been around for quite some time and influenced many people in history and the present. It has also impacted Christianity, to some extent, not the least of which with Neostoicism. The deuterocanonical/apocryphal book 4 Maccabees appears to have been greatly influenced by the school of thought.

 

What is your take on Stoicism? What about Neostoicism? Do you think it can be harmonized with a Christian world view or is to inextricably linked with its pagan origins?

 

Thank you for sharing. :)

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I think that Stoicism, at its core, tends to feed the supremacy of the individual man too much to ever be more than a stumbling block to Wisdom.

The Christian world view places God too firmly at the center for classic Stoicism and places the collective good of the body of believers too high for Neo-Stoicism.

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I think that Stoicism, at its core, tends to feed the supremacy of the individual man too much to ever be more than a stumbling block to Wisdom.

 

Interesting point. And I can't help but think of a section of the aforementioned 4 Maccabees. Before I quote said, though, I fully grant this text is not considered canonical by us Protestants. It appears in various Bibles in other faith traditions. As to the quote:

12 I will say more about this shortly. First I will begin with my main point, as is my custom, and then I will return to their story, giving glory to God, who possesses all wisdom.

 

Definition of terms

13 So we are exploring the question of whether clear thinking has full power over the emotions. 14 We need to define what careful reasoning is, what we mean by emotion, how many different kinds of emotions there are, and whether clear thinking has full power over all these things.
15 Clear thinking then is the mind-set that uses plain logic to choose the life of wisdom.
16 Next, wisdom is the knowledge of divine and human behavior and what causes the behavior. 17 This knowledge in turn comes from the instruction provided by the Law, through which we learn about divine matters reverently and human matters to our advantage. 18 The different kinds of wisdom are good judgment, justice, courage, and self-control.
19 Good judgment is the ruler among these kinds of wisdom, because clear thinking controls the emotions with it.
20 There are two general categories of emotions: pleasure and pain. Each of these shows up in different ways in the body and in the soul.

 

The author of said text is arguing that by bridling the emotions, wisdom can be pursued.

 

The Christian world view places God too firmly at the center for classic Stoicism and places the collective good of the body of believers too high for Neo-Stoicism.

 

If you would, could you "unpack" this a bit? Neo-Stoicism, at least by my definitions, is a joining of Stoic philosophy with a Christian worldview. I'm curious on your thoughts with respect to that school of thought. Thanks much. :)

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Interesting point. And I can't help but think of a section of the aforementioned 4 Maccabees. Before I quote said, though, I fully grant this text is not considered canonical by us Protestants. It appears in various Bibles in other faith traditions. As to the quote:

12 I will say more about this shortly. First I will begin with my main point, as is my custom, and then I will return to their story, giving glory to God, who possesses all wisdom.

 

Definition of terms

13 So we are exploring the question of whether clear thinking has full power over the emotions. 14 We need to define what careful reasoning is, what we mean by emotion, how many different kinds of emotions there are, and whether clear thinking has full power over all these things.
15 Clear thinking then is the mind-set that uses plain logic to choose the life of wisdom.
16 Next, wisdom is the knowledge of divine and human behavior and what causes the behavior. 17 This knowledge in turn comes from the instruction provided by the Law, through which we learn about divine matters reverently and human matters to our advantage. 18 The different kinds of wisdom are good judgment, justice, courage, and self-control.
19 Good judgment is the ruler among these kinds of wisdom, because clear thinking controls the emotions with it.
20 There are two general categories of emotions: pleasure and pain. Each of these shows up in different ways in the body and in the soul.

The author of said text is arguing that by bridling the emotions, wisdom can be pursued.

 

 

 

If you would, could you "unpack" this a bit? Neo-Stoicism, at least by my definitions, is a joining of Stoic philosophy with a Christian worldview. I'm curious on your thoughts with respect to that school of thought. Thanks much. :)

 

I'll give it a shot.

 

Classic Stoicism is based on the concept of a natural law. It has no need of any deity because Man is going to fix himself. Look at your quote from Maccabees:

 

"giving glory to God, who possesses all wisdom" ... while they ascribe 'wisdom' to god, what do they mean by 'wisdom'?

 

13 ... clear thinking has full power over the emotions. ... there you have it. For a Stoic, wisdom is defined by mastery of the mind over the emotion. However, is that how God defines wisdom? From God we are told "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" (Malachi 1:2-3) which hardly sounds like a God who has embraced logic and rejected emotion. What about the link between "Fear of the Lord" and "wisdom"? (Proverbs 1:7 Proverbs 9:10) Fear or reverential respect is found in the emotions, not the logic.

 

However, classic stoicism gets even worse because it draws upon natural laws to support its conclusions. The fatal flaw in any reliance on natural law, is that we live in a fallen world. Thus you are studying the world of Satan to gain insight into how to draw closer to God. Can you see any potential problem with that scenario. ... "You will surely not die, for when you eat it you will become like God, knowing good and evil." ... Not my first choice for wisdom!

 

 

 

15 Clear thinking then is the mind-set that uses plain logic to choose the life of wisdom. ... I wish I had all of William's Sola's memorized. One of them would probably save me a thousand words. [LOL]

The use of logic to CHOOSE a life of 'wisdom', is sanctification by human works. Welcome to Judaism or Islam or the JW. You have a heck of a climb ahead of you.

Seriously, it robs God of the glory of being God ... Philippians 2:13 "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." ... Can you see the difference between God working in and through is, and man using the power of his mind to choose to do?

 

How can these ever be reconciled without doing irreparable harm to one or the other.

 

 

 

18 The different kinds of wisdom are good judgment, justice, courage, and self-control. 19 Good judgment is the ruler among these kinds of wisdom, because clear thinking controls the emotions with it. ... What bothers me most about this 'wisdom' is that I see no reason an atheist cannot pursue it as easily as a Christian. Where in scripture (the part God actually did inspire) is there a call away from passion. David, a man after God's heart pours out his passion in the Psalms. What of the fury of Christ cleansing the temple, or confronting the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. In fact, Revelation goes so far as to say I wish you were either hot or cold, but because you are lukewarm, I will vomit you out!

 

No, I see stoicism (neo or otherwise) as a road to navel gazing. God is a God of deep passions who loves his children ferociously and calls us to be people of deep and radical passions as well.

 

Does that unpack it a little for you?

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