Difference Between Stoics and Epicureans

Stoicism and Epicureanism are two philosophical systems that had a great influence on the ethical questions of Greek society as a result of the changes that took place with the new philosophical system. This occurred as a result of the division of the kingdom following the death of Alexander the Great and they remained in force for a long time.

In that order of ideas, the Stoics and the Epicureans had differentiated philosophies, perspectives or paradigms that determined the way of life of the citizens at that time. Therefore, in this article we are going to present the differences between Stoics and Epicureans, starting from their brief definitions.

Stoics

Stoicism was a movement founded by Zeno of Citium and owes its name to the place where its founder began to teach his philosophy. The Stoics were characterized by their materialism, their theological conception and their rejection of passions and desires. These were inspired by the cosmological philosophy of Heraclitus and argued that human beings and everything else are material bodies that derive from a universal reason (God-Zeus), which is also material.

In that sense, this force or reason was also related to nature and predisposed the human being to act virtuously, however, they accepted the idea that despite this, people had the freedom to incline to vices. Stoic philosophy was deterministic because according to them the only freedom that human beings had was to be aware that they should submit to what providence had prepared for them. In addition, they were empiricists, since they said that knowledge derives from perceptions.

The Stoics on the other hand had as an ethical ideal that people love all the inhabitants of the world in the same way that they loved themselves. Additionally, one of the main characteristics of the Stoics is that they had disciples and representatives who thought differently, so some of their ideas were not accepted by everyone.

Epicureans

Epicureanism was a movement founded by Epicurus, who was born on Samos and was greatly influenced by the philosophy of Democritus. Hence, he affirmed that everything is composed of atoms, including the soul. The Epicureans showed greater interest in ethics, since they argued that it was wise to choose pleasures taking into account what they could bring in the future.

Apart from this, the Epicureans did not deny the existence of the gods but they were interested in people losing their fear of them, since the gods had no interest in intervening in human affairs and that sacrifices and superstitions were useless. from the people. The Epicurean ethical philosophy was egocentric, since it sought individual pleasure and well-being, however, Epicurus gave great importance to friendship and in practice he stood out for being highly appreciated among his disciples. Finally, in this school there was no division of thoughts, since everyone accepted the ideals of Epicurus.

Once the definitions that concern us have been presented, the following differences between the Stoics and Epicureans are presented:

  • The Stoics focused on logic while the Epicureans focused on ethics.
  • The Stoics gave great importance to God in their philosophy while the Epicureans proclaimed that there was no reason to fear the gods.
  • For the Stoics everything was determined by providence while for the Epicureans the human being is free and there is no destiny.
  • The Stoics considered pleasure and certain emotions as irrational and against nature while the Epicureans had pleasure (absence of pain) and happiness as their goals.
  • The Stoics were influenced by the philosophy of Heraclitus while Epicurus was inspired by the theories of Democritus and Leucippus.

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