Stoic Definition Of Happiness (IM 885)

According to stoicism, happiness isn’t found in things but in virtue alone- it’s all about what we value and the choices we make. In simple words, for human beings, virtue happens to be the best operating system for making our way through the world.

Arius Didymus, who served as a stoic advisor to Roman Emperors listed the four cardinal virtues, whose definition is given below:

[*] Wisdom (phronesis) is the knowledge of what things must be done and what must not be done and what is neither, and leads us to appropriate acts (kathekonta). Within wisdom, we’ll find virtuous qualities like soundness of judgment, circumspection, shrewdness, sensibleness, sound­ness of aim, and ingenuity.

[*] Self-control (sophrosune) is the knowledge of what things are worth choosing and what are worth avoiding and what is neither. Contained within this virtue are things like orderliness, propriety, modesty, and self- mastery.

[*]Justice (dikaiosune) is the knowledge of apportioning each person and situation what is due. Under this banner Stoics placed piety (giving gods their due), kindness, good fellowship, and fair dealing.

[*] Bravery (andreia) is the knowledge of what is terrible and what isn’t and what is neither. This included perseverance, intrepidness, greathearted­ness, stoutheartedness, and industriousness.

Epictetus summarized its as following:

“The essence of good is a certain kind of reasoned choice; just as the essence of evil is another kind. What about externals, then? They are only the raw material for our reasoned choice, which finds its own good or evil in working with them. How will it find the good? Not by marveling at the material! For if judgments about the material are straight, that makes our choices good, but if those judgments are twisted, our choices turn bad.”


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