Summary of Four Hellenistic Principles

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STOICISM: The key philosopher for stoicism was Zeno of Cyprus (335-263 B.C). The Stoics sought a disciplined simple life modeled after nature. They tried to control their emotions and avoided excesses. They believed that senses and reason alone reveal the truth. They believed that everyone had a divine spark, thus everyone was equal. They also believed that citizens should pay an active role in public affairs since the world is like a great city. Today, Stoics have a great degree of self-control against pain and adversity.

SKEPTICISM: The key philosopher for skepticism was Pyrrho of Elis (c. 360-c.272 B.C.). The Skeptics sought the truth by doubting all knowledge beyond what they could sense or experience and by challenging the assumptions made by others. They believed that “certain knowledge” could never be known because everyone perceived things differently. The also thought that people should doubt their religious beliefs. They are never satisfied with the “facts” and they achieve happiness by not committing to any opinion. Today, skeptics continue to have doubts about everything from science to religion.

EPICUREANISM: The key philosopher for Epicureanism was Epicurus (341-270 B.C.). The Epicureans sought pleasure in moderation. This means they sought pleasure by being free form the pain in their body and mind. They believed that “sober reasoning” banished mental confusion. They thought the world ran on its own without the gods. They believed that privacy and personal friendships were much more important than being involved in human affairs. Today, Epicureanism is corrupted, and usually refers to people who like gourmet food.

CYNICISM: The key philosopher for Cynicism was Diogenes (c. 412-320 B.C.). The Cynics were philosophical rebels. They violated laws and exposed corruption and hypocrisy in their society. They believed that people should live a simple and self-sufficient life as nature intended....
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