Stoicism and Choices

I am currently reading Massimo Pigliucci’s How to Be a Stoic. It clearly articulates the history of Stoicism, without getting bogged down into minute details, and the principles of Stoicism. I am still going through it, and I hope to give a further in-depth review at a future date. For now, I just want to mention that I am very happy to see Pigliucci clearly argue that there are indeed qualitative different choices one can make. It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking Stoicism is a coping philosophy, a philosophy of mere self-help. However, he articulates the role of developing virtue in order to be Stoic and practice Stoicism. We do not simply have a multitude of choices in our life in which we simply have to pick one and use Stoicism as a tool to confront the consequences of our choices. Rather, Stoicism aids us in being very clear in our outlook of life: what is important to us, what is not important to us, and how to face everything new under the sun. As Pigliucci points out, there are clear preferred indifferents; these are things that we prefer but would not fret over losing. At the same time, and more fundamental to Stoic practice, is the development of virtue and character. Once one can clearly distinguish between preferred indifferents (and at the same time, dispreferred indifferents), and our development of Virtue, then the choices in our lives become easier.

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