A Free Book: Stoic Notes
by Rymke Wiersma
Stoicism is usually associated with enduring the world as it is rather than changing it. Nevertheless, a stoic attitude to life is primarily an active attitude, with the aim of ‘living well’. The Stoics were far ahead of their time with their ideas about equality between people, cosmopolitanism and the denial of the existence of conflicts of interest. These and other ideas from Stoic ethics are both challenging and supportive, not only for striving for personal happiness but also for improving the world, in other words improving relationships between people.
We can therefore obtain inspiration from the Early Stoa in at least two ways: by learning to deal ‘stoically’ with setbacks, and by finding out about what Stoics mean by a good life.
Not just the Stoics, but also the Cynics and the Sceptics were a source of information for the notes in this book. A book about personal happiness and improving the world, and how these goals can strengthen rather than obstruct each other.
Real happiness is not caused by circumstances but by the activity of thinking. It is not achieved by consuming or navel-gazing, but by an active commitment to living well, and therefore by a commitment for a better world.
All the same, there is at least one very favourable circumstance that can affect you: coming into contact with the ideas behind stoicism.
The translation is by Stuart Field, and is also available from the Atlanta website
Rymke Wiersma (Middelburg 1954) studied philosophy in Utrecht for a few years after being trained as a social worker. Together with a small collective she established a printing house, which later became the publishing house Atalanta. Its target audience are ‘thinkers’ as wel as ‘doers’. Rymke writes: “A lot of people who want to change the world go about it rather impulsively, while the people who delve into philosohpy often forget the we are not solely spectators, but also actors on the world’s stage. Atalanta tries to reach both these groups of people with it publications.