Stoic Philosophy

“A brief synopsis and definition on this particular school of Hellenistic philosophy: Stoicism was founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC, but was famously practiced by the likes of Epictetus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. The philosophy asserts that virtue (such as wisdom) is happiness and judgment should be based on behavior, rather than words. That we don’t control and cannot rely on external events, only ourselves and our responses . . .Daily Stoic

Both Drs. Ellis and Beck drew upon Stoic Philosophy in developing REBT and CBT.  It is more explicit, I think, in REBT but the threads in CBT are unmistakable if you know what to look for. Stoic Philosophy can be studied as a stand-alone philosophy of life or to enhance and deepen your practice of REBT-CBT.  Stoic Philosophy is not particularly theoretical or highfalutin and remains remarkably fresh and modern for a set of ideas dating back more than two thousand years. See the  Wikipedia article.

Here is a great selection of books to get you started.


Have you read any of these books? Please add a review or comment or question in the form at the bottom.  Thanks!


Meditations: A New Translation, ~Marcus Aurelius

Discourses and Selected Writings of Epictetus


Letters from a Stoic, ~Seneca

A Guide to the Good Life, ~William B. Irvine

How to Be a Stoic, ~Massimo Pigliucci

Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy, ~Donald Robertson


by Donald Robertson

The Daily Stoic, ~Ryan Holiday



Q: Can you sum up Stoicism in one sentence?

Not easily.  The ancient Stoics did sum up their philosophy in a single phrase: “living in agreement with nature”, which they took to be synonymous with “living in accord with virtue”.  They used other Laconic phrases as well, but Epictetus warns his students that although these are easy to memorise, people are bound to ask questions like “what’s nature?” or “what’s virtue?” and then the explanation inevitably becomes more long-winded.  Stoicism was also traditionally summed up as the philosophy that believes “virtue is the only true good” – that’s its central and most characteristic doctrine.

If someone is really struggling with these ideas you could just say that in the opening sentence of Epictetus’ Stoic Handbook he explains that Stoicism involves making a clear distinction between what is completely “up to us” and what is not, in any given situation.  Stoic Ethics and the therapy of the passions ultimately derives from that basic concept.”

~Donald Robertson, author, teacher, philosopher, REBT therapist



Have you read any of these books? Please add a review or comment or question in the form at the bottom.  Thanks!


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