Matthew Duncombe’s article critiques the modern interpretation of Stoicism on TikTok, arguing that it simplifies and misrepresents the ancient philosophy. Stoicism, originally a complex philosophy encompassing ethics, physics, and logic, is portrayed on social media as a simplistic pathway to happiness and productivity. However, the ancient Stoics viewed happiness as a result of virtue and considered external factors like wealth and status as irrelevant, a perspective that contrasts sharply with contemporary views.
- Misrepresentation on TikTok: Stoicism on TikTok is often simplified and portrayed as a means to achieve happiness and productivity, which is a significant departure from its original, more complex and philosophical roots.
- Historical Background of Stoicism: Stoicism, originating in ancient Athens and popularized in Rome, was a detailed philosophy covering logic, physics, and ethics, with thinkers like Zeno, Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius contributing to its development.
- Logic and Knowledge in Stoicism: Stoicism emphasized the importance of logic as a fundamental part of acquiring deep, defensible knowledge, a concept largely overlooked in modern interpretations.
- Stoic View of the Universe: Stoics believed in a rational and organized universe where everything, including humans and God, was part of a rational body, leading to the idea that accepting one’s fate is key to happiness.
- Stoic Ethics vs. Modern Concepts of Happiness: According to Stoic philosophy, true happiness derives from virtue and the absence of vices, with external aspects like health, wealth, and status being irrelevant – a view that conflicts with modern definitions of happiness and productivity.