Tag Archives: Stoicism

The Three Pillars of Stoicism

The Four Cardinal Virtues of Wisdom, Justice, Temperance, and Courage are often linked to the “Three Pillars” of Stoicism: Logics, Ethics, and Physics. Logics and rational thought enables the virtue of (practical) wisdom to produce intelligent assent or rejection. Ethics and moral strivings condition the virtue of justice (and courage) to inform proper action or non-action. Physics and natural constraints temper the virtue of courage (and temperance) by proportionate or bounded desire or aversion.

    • Logics (Rational Domain): Assent for (practical) Wisdom
    • Physics (Natural Domain): Desire for Courage and Temperance (restraint)
    • Ethics (Moral Domain): Action for Justice

Note the mismatch between Four Cardinal Virtues and the Three Pillars. Some add Metaphysics to get Four Pillars, although what domain does it inform? (Supernatural? Speculative? Philosophical?) Also note my use of the term “Logics”. If the British can use the term “Maths” then I can certainly use “Logics,” because logic can now come in many different formulations.

Further Reading:

The Highest Good: An Introduction To The 4 Stoic Virtues

Disciplines, Fields, and Virtues: The Full Stoic System in One Neat Package


The Spheres of Human Understanding

The Four Cardinal Virtues

Images of Logic, Ethics, Physics:




The Passions of the Stoics

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

— From “The Waste Land”, by T. S. Eliot

The Stoics divided the passions into four parts, consisting of a two by two matrix of “good” or “bad” emotions versus whether they occur during the present or while thinking about the future.

  • Delight (or Pleasure): present and good
  • Distress: present and bad
  • Desire (or Appetite) : future and good
  • Dread (or Fear): future and bad

To Stoics all these passions were actually harmful, in the sense that they are irrational and instead should be thoughtfully managed. Instead one should have Three Good Feelings and but not Three Not-as-Good Feelings:

  • Joy (chara) instead of Pleasure
  • Wish (or Hope) (boulesis) instead of Appetite
  • Care (eulabeia) instead of Fear

What about Distress and its Stoic version (which might even be Calm or Ease)? And what of emotions for past memories? They might be  Relief (past and “bad”) and  Regret (past and “good”).

Further Reading:






Stoic Ethics