The Stoics Were Right, Partially (Part 2)

Continuing from my previous post, the Stoics were right to place emphasis on the virtues and even go so far as to state that they are necessary for happiness.  The Adventure segment of the road to happiness requires the same virtues if happiness it to be achieved.  For the Stoics, it is impossible to reach happiness without the virtues.

However, Stoicism goes one step further in stating that the virtues are sufficient for happiness: they state that nothing else is needed but the virtues.  This approach ignores the Journey segment of the road to happiness.  Stoicism appears to believe that one just attains the virtues and that the person is off and running towards happiness as long as the virtues are employed in everyday life.

This philosophical approach resembles Maslow’s need for self-actualization – the fifth and final need that must be satisfied to reach happiness.  This is the need after one has satisfied one’s self-esteem need (Maslow’s fourth need) and the other more basis needs.  This final level is the search for a meaning or purpose in life, a calling, and the completion of that calling or life purpose.  This satisfaction of one’s calling or purpose in life leads to tranquility, peak experiences, and a freedom from any further needs or desires in life.

The virtues are clearly needed to recognize, accept, and complete one’s mission in life, and thus reach happiness, a state of no further needs or desires.  But to assume that one’s mission may begin without first satisfying the other lower Maslow needs (i.e., without completing the Journey) is difficult to accept.  In fact, it is for this and other reasons that Stoicism fell out of favor over the years.

Stoicism helps to explain very effectively one of the segments of the road to happiness – the Adventure – and, like Epicureanism, which explains very effectively another segment of the road to happiness – the Journey, both philosophies fall short of presenting the entire road to happiness.

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