Roman Calendar

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Stoics Not Overly Fatalistic (from "The Philosophy of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy")

     Donald Robertson on the dangers of assuming that the Stoics were simply fatalists who awaited whatever might happen to them in a passive manner:

"[W]e should wonder whether the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, for example, was being over-fatalistic in this sense when he personally led the Roman legions, greatly depleted by a recent plague, into the heart of Germania to fight back the invading barbarian hordes of the Marcomanni tribes. Was Seneca being too passive when he, reputely, conspired to overthrow the corrupt and tyrranical Emperor Nero and lost his life in the process? Was Cato of Utica, the man who defied Julius Caesar, a doormat? In fact, many Stoics were famous political and military leaders, notorious for their onstinacy and courage rather than for their passivity. The archetypal hero of the Stoic school, Socrates, was himself a decorated military hero, and they also revered the legendary Hercules, who accomplished the twelve labours, and defied the very gods. In short, the Stoics undoubtedly admired action and assertiveness."

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