Home » Epicureanism vs. Stoicism – Which One is Better for Your Personal Growth

Epicureanism vs. Stoicism – Which One is Better for Your Personal Growth

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Ever since the famous “What is the basic stuff of the universe?” question, philosophy continues to captivate the attention of many. Stoicism and Epicureanism schools are possibly the most attractive to people who want to learn more about philosophy. Why? Because, at first, they appear to represent two polarities.

But are Epicureanism and Stoicism that different? Join me today as I explore Epicureanism vs. Stoicism, outlining their differences, similarities, and how they can help improve your life.

What is Epicureanism

Epicurus founded epicureanism in the 4th century B.C.E. While it offered some answers to the question of what is the nature of the universe, Epicureanism also provided advice on how to live a fulfilling life. This is where Epicureanism theory of value comes in.

Epicureanism teaches us that we are driven by the pursuit of pleasure while avoiding pain. In other words, for a life to be a good one, it has to be a pleasurable life. Epicureanism classifies all desires into three groups:

  • Natural, necessary desires — A desire for water, food, and sleep. They can be easily fulfilled and can’t be eliminated;
  • Natural non-necessary desires — Art, rich foods, and comfy beds. These are the desires of luxury, and Epicureanism teaches us to avoid them as there is a high chance that we won’t be able to fulfill them, which causes pain;
  • Vain desires — Social desires such as money, power, and fame. This philosophy school teaches us to destroy these desires because we won’t fulfill them completely.

What is Stoicism

Stoicism was founded by Zeno of Citium 300 BC. It offers milestones to people who are seeking practical wisdom in life. The essential values in Stoic philosophy are courage, temperance, justice, and wisdom. Stoicism teaches us that most of our pain comes from events.

More precisely, we worry about all the events in our lives, including those we can and cannot control. If we accept everything that happens to us and understand that there are many events we have no control over, we can achieve ultimate happiness.

Epicureanism vs. Stoicism – similarities and differences

Let’s quickly outline the main differences and similarities of these two primary Hellenic philosophy schools.

While Epicureanism teaches us that we should avoid pain and maximize pleasure, Stoicism teaches us to treat joy and pain indifferently. The best life is the one lived virtuously and justly. When it comes to virtue in Stoicism, it is a guiding principle, and in Epicureanism, it is a means to pleasure. 

Both philosophy schools teach us to live happy and pain-free lives. However, they highlight different ideals though. Epicureanism teaches us to live free of anxiety, satisfy our basic needs, and have strong friendships. Stoicism teaches us to fully accept the course of nature and live in accordance with it being aware of the things we can’t change.

Finally, both philosophies teach us to value human life and never break the law.

Benefits of using philosophies to guide your life

Each one of us has an attitude that acts as a guideline for our behavior. It doesn’t necessarily have to overlap with the guidelines of one of the philosophy schools. However, if it does, it can offer many benefits. Philosophy is fun and engaging. It can help you develop critical thinking and change your perspective on how you see and experience the world, yourselves, and those around you. 

For instance, both Epicureanism and Stoicism can help you live a more peaceful life. Whether you decide to pursue virtue or cast aside the desires you can’t momentarily fulfill, you will experience peace. 

If you choose philosophies to guide your life, you can also achieve complete freedom by improving your awareness. You can easily identify judgments that shape your thoughts and cause you discomfort. You will be able to stop overthinking and maintain the same state of mind no matter what happens. Other benefits include:

  • Being able to determine the root of the problem
  • Use introspection to become a better human being
  • Embrace reality as it is but not something that can’t be changed through self-action

Why one might be better for someone’s personal growth than the other

Every human being is unique, and you might find one philosophy school’s teachings better resonate with you than the other. Let me give you one crude example. Let’s say you are tormented by your desires, especially those you currently don’t have the means to fulfill. Epicureanism can help you facilitate personal growth and become a more calm person if this is the case.

On the other hand, if you are a judgemental person and you find your judgments and thoughts disturbing, looking for guidance in Stoicism is more viable than in Epicureanism. 

Conclusion

I find borrowing wisdom and insights from Epicureanism and Stoicism beneficial. Hopefully, I managed to bring these two ancient philosophy schools closest to you. However, I will leave it up to you to discover more about each one and decide the teachings you wish to follow.

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