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The Difference Between Stoicism and Epicureanism

Stoicism is a practical philosophy that spreads the belief in pantheistic materialism, whereas Epicurianism relates to freedom from pain, emotional disturbances and the doctrine of pleasure.

The philosophy of Stoicism was advanced by Zeno and developed  from that of the Cynics. The Stoics believed that the most important thing was for men to be happy in this world, and not to hope for a better world (or heaven), after death.

Since there were many things in life to cause man to be unhappy, such as pain and disease, they advocated that man should resign himself to these things and not try to resist them. The Stoics taught that men should be understanding of each other’s differences, and that all men were brothers. The Stoics were also opposed to slavery and war.

There were many fine writers that were Stoics. Among them were Epictetus, who was a Greek slave in Rome, and the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius.

Today, when a man calmly accepts the bad things that have happened to him, or seems to take them for granted, he is said to be “stoical.” The Stoic school was established at Athens about 300 B.C. Zeno, the philosopher, opened his school of stoicism in a colonnade known as “Painted Porch.” There were three men that represented the first period of Stoic philosophy. The philosophy was introduced in Rome during the second period and became exceedingly popular, but not to the exclusion of Epicureanism which was equally popular among Greeks and Romans.

Stoicism is a practical philosophy that spread the belief in pantheistic materialism, the basis of which was “Living according to Nature, and in conformity with the divine order of the universe.” Stoics believed that good lies not in external objects, but in the state of the soul itself, and that man should curb urges that runs contrary to the requirement of their philosophy.

Epicureanism is a philosophy advanced by the philosopher, Epicurus. He was born in Athens. Athens was still the center of philosophical thought in Greece. In the year 306, he established his famous school, and because the school functioned in the garden of his house, his followers were called “philosophers of the garden.” Students from all over Greece and Asia Minor flocked to his school. The writings of Epicurus were voluminous. He wrote on the subject of natural philosophy and treatises on atoms and the void, on love, on justice, on sight, and on touch. Epicureanism sought freedom from pain and emotional disturbances, rejected the afterlife and influence of gods in human affairs. Its philosophy advanced the doctrine of pleasure or happiness as being the supreme good and principal end in life. True happiness, however, is the result of self-restraint and correct living.

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