Welcome to Practical Stoicism

Stoic wisdom for the everyman and everywoman

Each individual comes to Stoicism with different needs. Many are attracted to this Ancient Greek philosophy because of a need to feel more resilient and independent in today’s often chaotic and uncertain world. Most of the rest seek Stoicism out because they’ve been led to believe its ancient wisdom holds specific solutions for their specific struggles.

Stoicism, though, isn’t a philosophy of resilience, nor does it claim to hold any specific answers to any specific problem. Instead, Stoicism is a framework for those looking to live a good life. Following this framework is indeed very likely to solve a lot of your troubles and make you a more resilient person. However, just as avoiding Hell isn’t supposed to be the point of Catholicism (for example), becoming resilient isn’t supposed to be the point of Stoicism.

“How can this be? This Campbell fellow must be mad! Stoicism certainly has answers and is definitely about resilience and independence. So many people say so, and how could so many people be wrong!”

What is “mainstream” is often not what is orthodox. This has to do with the practicality and adoptability of orthodoxy.

Take Catholics for example…

Do you think that an everyday Catholic understands Catholicism in the same way as a Catholic Theologian?

Of course, they don’t.

Do you think an everyday Catholic practices Catholicism in a way a Catholic Theologian would consider completely loyal to Catholic dogma and teaching?

Of course, you don’t.

A theologian of Catholicism would understand, and therefore practice, Catholicism in a much different way — one might say a more accurate or “orthodox” way — than your everyday Catholic would or likely could.

Most Catholics want to live practical lives, and that desire requires that their religious faith have some amount of flexibility in concerns to the exactitude with which it must be lived out.

More directly: if everyone had to live like a monk to be Catholic, no one would be Catholic and Catholicism would go extinct.

It’s the same with Stoicism and Stoics.

The ramifications of this truth are, at least, two:

  1. Very few people are versed in Stoic orthodoxy

  2. Very few people are interested in orthodox Stoicism

There’s no crime in this, of course, and I’m not trying to suggest that practicing orthodox Stoicism is the only way one can consider themselves a Stoic. What I am suggesting is that the reason most people understand Stoicism the way they do — that is to say, not like the Stoic version of a Catholic Theologian — is because becoming a “Stoic monk” (for lack of a better word), just isn’t practical.

The result is a popularized version of Stoicism, propagated by seemingly endless number of “influencers”, which isn’t just unorthodox but is deelpy anti-Stoic.

If you’re suffering through a breakup, for example, many “Stoic influencers” will tell you that Stoics don’t need other people, because love is an indifferent. Then they’ll tell you to stop caring about things you cannot control (including other people).

But, without question, no ancient Stoic would have agreed with this advice.

Love is not an indifferent, you must absolutely care about things you cannot control, and one of Stoicism’s defining characteristics (which sets it apart from Cynicism, for example) is the degree to which other human beings play a role in any Stoic achieving the ultimate aim of the philosophy (which is Virtue).

This free publication is part of my broader and on-going efforts to correct popular misconceptions about Stoicism and, perhaps even more importantly, provide Stoicism-aligned advice that everyday people can actually put in to practice.

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