How Stoics and Epicureans Shape Modern Thought

Stoics and Epicureans exist as two prevalent schools of thought within Greek philosophy. These schools both ascertain to make the most of human life, but in two divergent ways. Stoics posit that life is maximized via absconding from negative passions whereas Epicureans did so by overwhelming sensation in hedonistic revelries.

For the stoic, life was an hour glass that needs to be maximized based off of virtue. The idea of stoicism adjudicating for executive thought from the prefrontal cortex is not a novel supposition. The precept posits how reveling in futile passions such as hate, envy, negativity results in the loss of one’s life as it prevented one from usefulness, and that how cognizant detachment from such attachments is necessary for life’s fecundity. One of the most famous adages of the stoic school of thought is, “Life is short, art is long,” and only arises because we do not maximize our allotted time. If one actually made use of the time granted during life, the length of life itself is sufficient.

On the other hand, Epicureans believed that the main purpose of life is to seek happiness. That’s everyone’s goal, and that should be the main fixation. While stoics believed in service and that individuals should be making the most of their civic and professional lives as they epitomize virtue, Epicureans believed in an almost reclusive one: that a good life is in the pleasure of a few friends and meaningful, good experiences.

In 2018, the main thoughts of successful business leaders intersect at the nexus of both schools of thought. I find this true for myself, as dwelling on past pains and hurt, robs me of my precious ability to focus on my own life. I am lucky to have seen this earlier in my life, to let things go, and to forgive. I’ve perhaps gotten accustomed to be being bullied. Heck, I’m on Wall Street and one does not end up here if they don’t have the ability to handle rejections. The stoic part of me detaches pain and logically decomposes it. Humans by nature, are selfish assholes that act upon their own flaws; usually when people hurt you, judge you, or reject you, it’s because you challenge their ego and don’t fit in their selfish scheme of life.

I am also Epicurean in the sense that I believe that while I may have it tough out in the business world, the true pleasures in life are found when someone truly understands you, cherishes you, and kisses away your pain. It’s as if the inebriation of their company satisfies even the least bit of pain and sorrow evinced from work and happiness and purpose are both completed.