As an ethical doctrine, the goal of Stoicism is freedom from passion (in the ancient sense of "anguish" or "suffering") through the pursuit of reason and "apatheia" (apathy, in its ancient sense of being objective, unemotional and having clear judgment). It teaches indifference and a "passive" reaction to external events (on the grounds that nothing external could be either good or evil) and equanimity in the face of life's highs and lows.
The Stoics taught that becoming a clear, unbiased and self-disciplined thinker allows one to understand the "logos" (the natural universal reason in all things). Thus, unhappiness and evil are the results of ignorance, and if someone is unkind, it is because they are unaware of their own universal reason. The solution to this evil and unhappiness can be achieved through the practice of Stoic philosophy (the examination of one's own judgments and behavior in order to determine where they might have diverged from the universal reason of nature). Hence the famous Stoic maxim: "Live according to nature", both in the sense of the laws of the universe and of man's own essential nature, reason.
Stoicism is a Hellenistic school of philosophy, developed by the Greek philosopher Zeno of Citium around 300 B.C., which teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions in order to develop clear judgment and inner calm and the ultimate goal of freedom from suffering (see the section on the doctrine of Stoicism for more details).
Stoicism is not just a set of beliefs or ethical claims, however, but rather a way of life, involving constant practice and training, and incorporating the practice of logic, Socratic dialogue and self-dialogue, contemplation of death, and a kind of meditation aimed at training one's attention to remain in the present moment.
Stoicism was originally based on the moral ideas of the Cynic school (Zeno of Citium was a student of the important Cynic Crates of Thebes), and toned down some of the harsher principles of Cynicism with some moderation and real-world practicality. During its initial phase, Stoicism was generally seen as a back-to-nature movement, critical of superstitions and taboos (based on the Stoic idea that the law of morality is the same as Nature).
An important aspect of Stoicism involves improving the individual’s ethical and moral well-being by having a will which is in agreement with Nature, and by practicing the four cardinal virtues (derived from the teachings of Plato): wisdom ("sophia"), courage ("andreia"), justice ("dikaiosyne") and temperance ("sophrosyne").
Other Tenets Stoic Logic and Epistemology asserts the certainty of knowledge, which can be attained through the use of reason and by verifying the conviction with the expertise of one's peers and the collective judgment of humankind. It holds that the senses are constantly receiving sensations, in the form of pulsations which pass from objects through the senses to the mind, where they leave behind an impression. The mind is able to approve or reject an impression, to enable it to distinguish a representation of reality which is true from one which is false. This theory stands, therefore, in direct opposition to the Idealism of Plato, for whom the mind alone was the source of knowledge, the senses being the source of all illusion and error.
In Metaphysics, the Stoics believed in a universe which is a material but reasoning substance, which can be called God or Nature, and which they divided into two classes, the passive (essentially, matter) and the active (variously described as Fate or Logos, a material, intelligent aether or primordial fire, which acts on the passive matter). The souls of people and animals are emanations from this primordial fire, and are likewise subject to Fate. This notion that all things are composed of fire is borrowed from Heraclitus, and they also held a cyclical view of history, in which the world was once fire and would become fire again.
To the Stoics, then, all things are material, and nothing is more than material (Materialism). Words and God himself are material; emotions are material, because they have physical manifestations (e.g. blushing, smiling); the mind or soul reduces to matter, because the body produces thoughts or sense impressions in the soul, and the soul produces movements in the body, both which would be impossible if body and soul were not of the same substance.
The Stoics also believed that all the world is one, issuing from one principle (Monism), and that a divine reality pervades the whole universe (Pantheism). Thus, the universe is like a giant living body, with its own leading part (the stars or the sun), but with all parts being interconnected, so that what happens in one place affects what happens elsewhere. In addition, everything in the universe is predetermined (Determinism), although humans have a certain amount of free will (in the same way as eddies play around within the overall current of a river).
The full webpages (ripped of, course, as I do in the case that the original happens to vanish.) are located below.
Monism - Introduction
Cynicism is an ancient Greek ethical doctrine which holds that the purpose of life is to live a life of Virtue in agreement with Nature (which calls for only the bare necessities required for existence). This means rejecting all conventional desires for health, wealth, power and fame, and living a life free from all possessions and property. However, rather than retreating from society, Cynics should live in the full glare of the public's gaze and would be quite indifferent in the face of any insults which might result from their unconventional behavior. Their way of life requires continuous training (of both the mind and the body), not just an abdication of responsibility and a nihilistic lifestyle.
The Cynics believed that the world belongs equally to everyone, and that suffering is caused by false judgments of what is valuable, and by the worthless customs and conventions which surround society. They also saw their job as acting as the watchdog of humanity, and to evangelize and hound people about the error of their ways. They were particularly critical of any show of greed, which they viewed as a major cause of suffering. Many of their ideas were later absorbed into Stoicism.
Although there was never an official Cynic doctrine, the fundamental principles can be summarised as: