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More on Self-sufficiency

The Stoics often say that there is only one true good and that is virtue. This has often been understood as saying that all we should care about is our own mental health - and everything else is either "preferred indifferents" or "dispreferred indifferents" (according to orthodox Stoic terminology). It's true that they generally agree that virtue is all that is necessary for happiness - and that virtue in that sense is "the only true good". But there are other kinds of good. In the sources for Greek Stoicism virtue is considered an "internal good" - meaning that it is in our "soul". But there are also "external goods" - meaning that they are still related to us even though they are not a requirement for our happiness. Examples are living in a good country and having good and happy friends. In Roman Stoicism, the explicit concept "external goods" seems to have been lost and so it's extremely easy to get the impression that the roman Stoics think that having good friends and living in a good country are so-called preferred indifferents. However, that interpretation is horribly wrong and misguided. A stoic obviously loves his or her friends. And you can't love something you don't care about.

Still life with glass bowl of fruit and vases. Roman painting from the House of Julia Felix in Pompeii, 63-79 CE


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