I’d never heard this particular anecdote about Zeno before. (In all honesty I don’t know very much about the founder of the philosophy I’d most like to… eh… aspire to). As far as I remember pretty much all of Zeno’s writings have been lost… and so whatever we know of him is apocryphal at best, or is commentary on his work by another philosopher in their own work.
A non extant text called Republic notes that Zeno advocated for the abolishment of civil institutions, including money, temples, law courts and marriage. He also thought genders should dress alike from head to toe and also practice free love. All of this, he believed, were constraints that held us down, and abolishing them would free us to live much simpler lives.
Entry on stoicism, Ethics 101, Boone, Brian, Adams Media, 2017
There are some definite libertarian ideas in there. Probably more of an anarchist than a middle of the road libertarian. I could likely get behind most of them. Except for the abolition of money… I kinda like money.
I am undoubtedly the worst stoic ever. The garden variety cactus on my desk displays more apathea and general Zeno-ness than I could ever muster. For its crimes and in a display of churlish petulance I am depriving it of water. Which, typically, it seems to be taking in its stride. Annoyingly I seem to gravitate more towards Nero than Seneca. Albeit without ever having burned down a city (allegedly) or committing matricide.
Seneca however is not my stoic of choice. I like a more clear cut exemplar. For me Seneca was either the best stoic or a sanctimonious douche. I have see-sawed between labelling him as both during my tenure grappling with stoicism. My official position as of now is that I have no position. Besides is this really something I should have an opinion on? I shouldn’t be comparing my adherence to a particular philosophy against someone else. There is no score card or checklist, no certificate at the end of the day displaying your stoic-ness in empirical percentage terms. ‘Congratulations ,with your score you managed to edge out Ryan Holiday and Tim Ferriss in the category of practical Stoicism’
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