Why Stoicism Promotes Living According to Nature
Faced with the changes that we are going through, more and more people choose to practise Stoic philosophy to connect with their interior.
The Stoic thinkers of ancient Greece developed a theory of the universe, a system of logic and questioning. The most basic lesson of Stoicism is: living a fulfilling life according to Nature is asking yourself questions about what it’s like to be human.
Philosophy is often said to be an attempt to answer the question “how should I live?” To try to answer that question, you need to have a reasonable understanding of the world and your relationship with it.
It is not necessarily about finding a “supreme truth”, but about finding the main reason when so many other people are doing the same out there.
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The Goal Of Life According To Stoicism
Since Zeno, the maxim to practice Stoicism has been “to live in harmony with Nature.” This is a very vague saying for those who are not familiar with Stoicism, so let me explain.
Since the beginning of the Stoic school, one of the central teachings has been that everything in the universe is connected through the network of cause and effect. This is an idea that is prominent in modern physics, but also one that can be found in other philosophies.
As a consequence of everything being connected, everything has its place. We are forced to focus on our own situation, but if we took a minute to contemplate the big picture we would see that we are cogs in a system.
Our Place In The Universe
Stoicism encourages us to be aware of our position in the universe and to make the most of it. This is where the maxim of living in harmony with Nature comes from.
Nature refers here to the cosmos, the universe, God, or as the ancient Stoics would say: Zeus. By working together with other parts of the universe we can benefit ourselves and others.
Most moderns will not believe in Zeus or a concept of God. The Stoic God consists of the entire universe. Yes, that means that you and I are parts of God. We have grown out of the cosmos and we are embedded in it.
Stoicism argues that the universe as a whole is conscious. The reasoning here is that if sentient beings like humans are part of the universe, consciousness must be a quality of the entire universe.
In Stoicism, consciousness is seen as a “divine spark” that even God could not remove. We are free agents, but it would be better for us and the whole if we worked on cultivating our character and rationality.
This is how we would begin to live in harmony with Nature.
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Nature As Our Guide
“Living according to nature” is what we would find in Seneca by inviting us to use Nature as a guide, knowing that reason respects it and consults it. This Nature means the totality of things and the root from which it arises, as well as to how it refers to what is proper to each thing. Living according to Nature will be living according to the right reason. To live according to Nature, a man must know that the facts are true, what his truth consists of, and what their relationships are.
Living well will be in accordance with the rational order that inhabits us, which in turn is part of the happiness of the cosmos.
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