Tag Archives: stoics

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.

The Stoics Were Right, Partially (Part 1)

In my previous post I mentioned that Epicurean thinking was needed to reach the end of the Journey – the “good life.”  This approach involves food, warmth, and safety provided by one’s family and society, as well as flow experiences through “involvement” and “exposure” activities.  These activities propel the individual from the worries and anxieties of the everyday world to one free of pain.  These activities provide a sense of belonging among one’s family, friends, and community, as well as a sense of self-esteem from the respect and admiration of others.

However, this Epicurean philosophy only leads to the “good life” and not happiness.  Another philosophy, Stoicism, believes that the best approach to happiness is living a life of virtue.  In fact, Stoics believe that only virtue is necessary and sufficient for reaching happiness and that nothing else matters.  The four main virtues mentioned by the Stoics as necessary for happiness are: wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice.

You could say that the Stoics are living the Adventure.  The Adventure is what takes the individual from the “good life” to happiness.  For the Stoics, the end of the Adventure, happiness, is the continuous exercise of the virtues in daily life.  For the Stoics, the Adventure could be viewed as the acquisition of the virtues such that once all the virtues are attained, then happiness is reached.

More to come.

End of the Journey: Part 2

One final point on reaching the end of the journey.

I have talked about the psychologists, Maslow and Csikszentmihalyi, and their teachings regarding the importance of self-esteem in reaching happiness.  Both psychologists place self-esteem at the second to last stage of human development.

I have also presented numerous artworks that support and validate the teachings of the psychologists by translating their ideas and research into human feelings and experiences.

Also, I have mentioned that harnessing the entrepreneur within us is the best means of traveling along the road during the journey.  The academic researchers have highlighted the traits of successful entrepreneurs and it is these traits that illuminate the beast means of reaching the end of the journey.

One final point that I would like to mention is the teachings of the philosophers regarding the journey.  Aristotle and St. Aquinas mention that health, wealth, friendships, and recognition or prestige are common human goals and are needed along the road to happiness.  In addition, the Stoics mention that individuals progress from valuing food, warmth, and safety, to social interactions.  The teachings of these esteemed ancient philosophers mirror the theories of the psychologists, artists, and entrepreneurs.

It is nice when many very different disciplines reach the same conclusion.  I think that we can rest assured that the journey that I have outlined, which takes us only part of the way to happiness, is viable and trustworthy.