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Thread: Stoicism revisited

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array Lark's Avatar
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    Jun 2009

    Default Stoicism revisited

    Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions; the philosophy holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to understand the universal reason (logos). A primary aspect of Stoicism involves improving the individualís ethical and moral well-being: "Virtue consists in a will which is in agreement with Nature."[7] This principle also applies to the realm of interpersonal relationships; "to be free from anger, envy, and jealousy",[8] and to accept even slaves as "equals of other men, because all alike are sons of God."[9]
    From the Wiki Stoicism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I've long believed that Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy is just Stoicism reinvented for an age enthralled by science, or what the greatest number believe is science.

    Not all CBTers believe so though:

    What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?


    CBT is based on aspects of stoic philosophy.
    Not all approaches to CBT emphasize stoicism. Rational Emotive
    Behavior Therapy, Rational Behavior Therapy, and Rational Living
    Therapy emphasize aspects of stoicism. Beck's Cognitive Therapy is not
    based on stoicism.

    Cognitive-behavioral therapy does not tell people how they should feel.
    However, most people seeking therapy do not want to feel they way they have
    been feeling. The approaches that emphasize stoicism teach the benefits of
    feeling, at worst, calm when confronted with undesirable situations. They also
    emphasize the fact that we have our undesirable situations whether we are
    upset about them or not. If we are upset about our problems, we have two
    problems -- the problem, and our upset about it. Most people want to have the
    fewest number of problems possible. So when we learn how to more calmly
    accept a personal problem, not only do we feel better, but we usually put
    ourselves in a better position to make use of our intelligence, knowledge,
    energy, and resources to resolve the problem.
    Basicall I think that most therapy is about copeing with crisis, it could be situational and time limited or it could be a perpetual cycle which itself is a consequence of development, maturation, deficit, maladaptation, maladjustment or the 101 other definitions for being a square peg in the round hole of life.

    As a result I really do think that CBT IS stoicism, its been modernised, perhaps theres more clues about why it works (besides the client-therapist relationship which I believe is to do with attachment and conscious or unconscious pursuit of development experiences which have been missed).

    What do you think? Is this like some sort of coincidence or does mankind just revisit the same essential philosophies of life over and over again in new varieties?

  2. #2


    Sounds wonderful, but does neutrality of emotion entail neutrality of compassion, ambition, or motivation? Even the stoic has a natural nugget of intrinsic motivation that is had from feeling. Feeling is what propels us to preserve life, for life gives meaning.

  3. #3
    lackluster primate Array Night's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007


    Nice contrast.

    At first glance, the primary difference is the aim of each discipline. Stoicism appears to shoot for a universal (empirically-acknowledged) truth, whereas CBT is generally a means to psychologically overcome uncomfortable emotional states.

    Striving for an ethical/moral singularity (Read: Virtue) requires an intellectual metric against which an absolute standard is offered. A 'universal' sense of cognitive self creates a challenging pretext that could prevent individuals from ascension. This presents certain practical challenges.

    CBT updates its basis by creating a subjective model for success. CBT holds to the idea that individual progress is an intimate system of development and is without external compare - such that logos creates. As such, systematic "progress" is more a nebulous measurement and could come in many forms. While certainly a strength, this opacity could also create stagnation and even decline without clinical perspective.

  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I've long believed that Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy is just Stoicism reinvented for an age enthralled by science, or what the greatest number believe is science.
    In some ways, you could say the same about Gnosticism.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Array Lark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009


    I dont know if its neutrality of emotion so much as mastery of emotions which both Stoicism and CBT are about, although good point. I know that there's been some debate in the Trekkie community about Vulcans and what their culture teaces, its gradually become mastery instead of emotionlessness which has become their guiding principle over time.

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