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Stoicism and Buddhism

  1. May 31, 2009 #1
    Does anyone else think these stoic quotes are remarkably similar to Buddhist philosophy?

    "Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of one's desires, but by the removal of desire." (iv.1.175) Epictetus

    "Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them." (Ench. 5) Epictetus
  2. jcsd
  3. May 31, 2009 #2
    Wow, just wanted to acknowledge your thought provoking, interesting question. I have no real opinion based on my current knowledge, but perhaps I'll spend a day or two investigating it because it sounds like it would be fun!!!
  4. May 31, 2009 #3
    Wisdom is not bound by the names we give it
  5. May 31, 2009 #4

    Afraid I don't get it....
  6. May 31, 2009 #5
    It is not that surprising that two gifted philosophers of the same species would arrive at similar conclusions when considering the same problems. The immediate experience of existence on its deepest and most fundemental level is something we all participate in.
  7. May 31, 2009 #6
    Presumably these stoic philosophers had no knowledge of Buddhism and were not influenced by it? I know Schopenhauer had similar views on desire and the will, but he was quite heavily influenced by Buddhism and Indian religion such as the Upanishads.
  8. May 31, 2009 #7
    With selective quoting, it can also be argued that the ancient Greeks had a surprisingly profound knowledge of modern science, such as the atomic theory of matter.
  9. May 31, 2009 #8
    It wasn't 'knowledge' or 'science' because they didn't have experimental results to confirm their theories. Democritus did indeed come up with atomic theory, it's where our own word comes from.
  10. May 31, 2009 #9
    The Hellenic world was broadly speaking the area conquered by Alexander, which went as far east as the Indus river, so to rule the possibility out completely would be foolish, but as I have already mentioned, it is not really that surprising to see unrelated schools of thought promoting similar ideals.
  11. May 31, 2009 #10
    It may not be entirely surprising but I still find it interesting that they would come up with such similar ideas independently. Then again I'm pretty sure that Descartes wasn't the first person to have an existential crisis, and Democritus probably wasn't the first person to wonder whether matter is infinitely divisible.
    I think what I find interesting here is that the ideas sprang from radically different systems of thought. The Buddha was born coming from Vedic (I think) philosophy, and the Stoics were coming from ancient Greek philosophy. They must have arrived at the same conclusion through very different routes.
  12. Jun 1, 2009 #11
    Indeed, which is my point. In fact, neither did Dalton to any particular extent, but it spurred such empirical research that it deserves to be called the inception to the atomic theory.
  13. Jun 4, 2009 #12
    The other day I was re-reading some of Platos middle eriod dialogues and yesterday the Bhagavad Gita (a Hindu holy text written probably within 50 years of those dialogues) and they were expressing the exact same concepts in different literary styles.

    Seriously, it's no accident that there is agreement among mystics.
  14. Jun 4, 2009 #13
    How much do you know about Pythagoreanism? Their beliefs included the transmigration souls, as well as eventual release from this cycle through detatched contemplation, i.e. the gradual seperation of the soul from the body during life. These ideas also feature in pre-Buddhist Indian philosophy. And they recur again and again throughout history, though in the case of Europe you have to look at more esoteric branches of religion such as Hermetism and Neoplatonism once Christianity took hold.
  15. Jul 23, 2009 #14
    How do you say that? You mean Gita was inspired by Plato's dialogues? :eek:
  16. Jul 24, 2009 #15
    I interpreted Gwilim's post to mean that these are ideas which would come up again and again (perhaps because they hold some truth), not that one was copying the other. I'm sure if Plato and the ancient Indian's hadn't come up with these ideas, someone else would have.
  17. Jul 25, 2009 #16
    Schopenhauer, according to Magee's biography, developed his views on desire and the will, before reading the Upanishads and Buddhist philosophy.
  18. Jul 25, 2009 #17
    That's interesting I didn't know that. In any case, he refers to Buddhism and the Upanishads in relation to his own beliefs in what I've read by him so they must have influenced his later work. He even once got rid of his maid for dusting his Buddha head statue.
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