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Stoicism has its roots in the philosophical activity of Socrates. But its historical journey began in the enrichment of that tradition with other influences by Zeno of Citium almost a century after Socrates`death, and it continued in the rise and decline of the school he founded. An apparently long pause followed during the Middle Ages, although it seems clear that its philosophical influence continued to be felt through a variety of channels, many of which are difficult to chart. In early modern period, Stoicism again became a significant part of the philosophical scene and has remained an influential intellectual force ever since. (1.1.)
The school, from Zeno to Arius Didymus
The history of the Stoic school is conventionally divided into three phases:
Early Stoicism: from Zeno´s foundation of the school, c. 300, to the late second century B.C.: the period which includes the headship of the greatest Stoic of them all, Chrysippus
Middle Stoicism: the era of Panaetius and Posidonius Roman stoicism: the Roman Imperial period, dominated by Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius
Although the Stoic tradition´s continuity is at least as important as any resolution into distinct phases, the traditional divisions do reflect key changes which no school history can afford to ignore. The following account will, in fact, assume a rough division into five phases, despite acknowledgment of extensive overlaps between them:
The first generation
The era of the early Athenian scholars
The Platonising phase (Middle Stoicism)
The first century B.C. decentralisation
The imperial phase (1.7)
The founder of Stoicism, was probably in 334 B.C. at Citium. Zeno was passionately addicted to the philosophical traditions of Athens and especially by books about Socrates. (9)According to Zeno bodily and external advantages such as health and wealth are not good – never the less natural objects of pursuit. His idea was that man, under normal circumstances, should seek to obtain such conditions and still be aware that these dosen`t make life much better. (10) But during the process we develop our skills at living in agreement with nature. Zeno rejected Platonic metaphysics and he formed his own philosophical group. (10) His philosophy consists of ethics,physics and logic. The ethics are based on a socially respectable revision of Cynic morality. The psychics is in a large part related to Plato`s Timaeus with an added part for fire inspired by Heraclite and reflects input from Cleanthes, defined as a world consisting of primary matter infused by an active force “god” both corporal and depending on the property mutual interactive causal powers. This world is here considered the vital object of study both for for ethics and for logics in the frames of epistemology. Here the starting point for the scientific understanding of the world takes place.(1.9.)
1. Brat Inwood: The Cambridge Companion to The Stoics,Cambridge University Press 2003.
After you have digested these principles, show us some resulting change in the commanding faculty of your soul, just as the athletes show their shoulders as the results of their exercising and eating, and as those who have mastered the arts can show the results of their learning. The builder does not come forward and say “Listen to me deliver a discourse about the art of building”; but he takes a contract for a house, builds it, and thereby proves that he possesses the art.
(Epictetus: Dissertations (Discourses) Diss. 3.21.3)