Looking for the truth: Is Stoicism selfish?

Stoicism, a philosophy that emphasizes self-control and rationality, is often misunderstood as being selfish. But is this true? In this blog post, we will delve into how Stoicism can lead to acts of kindness and generosity, and explore how Stoic philosophers such as Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius encouraged altruistic behavior in their teachings.

The misconception of Stoicism as selfish

One of the main reasons why some people view Stoicism as selfish is because of its emphasis on self-control and rationality.

It is believed that we Stoics are only interested in our own personal growth and development, and not in helping others.

Another reason is that the Stoicism preaches acceptance and finding peace in the present moment, regardless of the circumstances. Some people might take this as being us being indifferent to the suffering and pain of others.

However, this is purely a misconception as Stoicism does not encourage us to be ignore others, but rather it teaches us to focus on things within our control, and to accept things that are not.

But not being selfish isn’t the same as being generous. Let’s discuss how Stoicism enables us to be selfless and self-sacrificing.

Stoicism and altruism

Despite its focus on self-control and rationality, Stoicism can actually lead to acts of kindness and generosity.

A Stoic individual, by understanding their own limitations and being self-aware, will be more likely to empathize with others and to understand the struggles that they may be facing.

Many Stoic philosophers have demonstrated altruistic behavior in their writings and teachings.

For example, Epictetus believed that true happiness comes from being vulnerable and helping others, and he encouraged his students to be of service to their community.

Similarly, Seneca wrote extensively about the importance of treating others with kindness and compassion.

Stoic emperor Marcus Aurelius, who wrote in his famous Meditations that we should strive to do good for others, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it benefits us as well.


In conclusion, it is a misconception that Stoicism is a selfish philosophy. Instead, the focus on self-control and rationality can actually lead to acts of kindness and generosity. By understanding our own limitations and being self-aware, we can empathize with others and understand the struggles they may be facing.

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