Who could possibly take exception to the Stoics? One of the more passive arms of Hellenistic philosophy, Stoicism required its followers to believe in a world where virtue was all, worldly goods were trivial and everything was predetermined. Perhaps you might take exception to this last pillar of faith, since it leaves us dangerously close to being organic robots, with no real autonomy. ‘I was destined to steal,’ a slave once told his Stoic master, Zeno of Citium. ‘Yes, and to be flogged,’ Zeno replied, carrying out the punishment. Your destiny does not excuse you of responsibility, in the Stoic mindset: it just robs you of choice.
With its emphasis on virtue and self-control, it is curious that Stoicism has proved so appealing to the men who lurk on the internet under the banner of the Red Pill (an umbrella term taken from the film, The Matrix, which now describes multiple varieties of men’s rights activists, pick-up artists and ‘incels’ or involuntary celibates).