Stoic metaphysics a materialistic version of Aristotelian metaphysics: force [or form] and matter are both corporealbut force consists of a finer kind of stuff, while matter as such is coarse, formless and immovableOnly forces have causality the effect which results, however, is not a cause or a force nor is it a body but a mere accidental state of the bodyThe forces in the universe form one all-pervasive force or fire: the rational active soul of the world.
The universe is a cosmos a beautiful, well-ordered, perfect whole. The rational principle is related to the world as the human soul is to its body [the pervasion of the cosmos by a rational principle is pure pantheism]but just as the governing part of the soul is situated in a particular part of the body, so the ruling part of the world soul, the Deity, or Zeus, is seated at the outermost circle of the world: pantheism and theism dwell together in the Stoic system [as in many modern systems], however in Stoicism the pantheistic aspect clearly prevails.
The Stoics offer a detailed description of the evolution of the world from the original divine fire: every recurring world will resemble its predecessors in every detail the theory of cyclic recurrence for each world is produced by the same lawMan is free in the sense that he can assent to what fate decrees,
but, whether he assents or not, he must obeyNow, if everything is a manifestation of God, how shall we explain evil in the world? [^1] The negative solution denies the existence of evil what we call evils are only relative evils; [^2]the positive solution regards evil, such as disease, as the necessary and inevitable consequence of natural processes or as a necessary means of realizing the good.
A man is free when he acts in accordance with reason; that is, obedience to the eternal laws of nature. The Stoic conception of freedom is one of rational self-determination.
The Stoic doctrine of cyclic recurrence implies that all souls necessarily reappear with the recreation of the universe.
Man is part of the universal order, a spark of the divine fire, a small universe [microcosm] reflecting the greater universe [macrocosm]. Hence it behooves man to act in harmony with the purpose of the universeto reach the highest possible3 measure of perfection. To do this he must put his own soul in order: reason should rule him as reason rules the worldto live according to nature for a human being is to act in conformity with reason, the logosto live thus is to realize one's self and to realize one's true self is to serve the purposes of universal reason and to work for universal ends. The Stoic ethical ideal implies a universal society of rational beings with the same rights for reason is the same in all and all are part of the same world soul.
A truly virtuous act is one which is consciously directed toward the highest purpose or end, and is performed with conscious knowledge of moral principle. Thus, virtuous conduct implies complete and certain knowledge of the good and a conscious purpose, on the part of the doer, to realize the supreme good.
To act unconsciously and without knowledge is not virtue. Virtue is one, a unity, for everything depends on disposition, on the good will: a man either has it or he has it not: there is no middle ground: he is either a wise man or a foolVirtue is the only good, vice the only evil all else is indifferent.
Evil conduct is the result of wrong judgment, or false opinion: the Stoics sometimes regard evil as the cause, sometimes the effect of the passions or immoderate impulses. The four such passions are pleasure, desire, grief and fear. These passions and their many variations are diseases of the soul which it is our business, not merely to moderate, but to eradicate, since they are irrationalApathy or freedom from passion is, accordingly, the Stoic ideal.
True religion and philosophy are one, according to the Stoics. [Little wonder that Stoic philosophy should appeal to the Jesuits.]
2.5 GREEK PHILOSOPHY: THE RELIGIOUS PERIOD [150 BCE 500 AD]
Greek philosophy began in Greek religion; and after its formative phase, described earlier, reached an apex in Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. The subsequent ethical theories of the Epicurean and Stoic schools, the nihilism of the Skeptics and the piece-meal practicality of the Eclectics did not satisfy all types of mind"We come now to a period in History when Philosophy seeks refuge in Religion"The new attitude sought to know and see God, brought about by and expresses consciousness of the decline of the classical peoples and their culture, "gave rise to a philosophy strongly tinctured with religious mysticism,"
"brought to life not only Christianity, but, before its advent, pagan and Jewish Alexandrianism and its kindred phenomena""We may distinguish three currents to this religious philosophy: [^1] an attempt to combine an Oriental religion, Judaism, with Greek speculation: Jewish Greek Philosophy, [^2] an attempt to construct a world-religion upon Pythagorean doctrines: Neophythaore4anism;[^3] an attempt to make a religious philosophy of the Platonic teaching: Neoplatonism"Here are some comments on the main tendencies: