The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

You should follow stoic principles.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/27/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,558 times Debate No: 25863
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)




I'm advocating that you should follow stoic principles; chiefly, the principles of apathy which is the basis of all stoic philosophy: one should neither suffer pain nor pleasure. The reason why stoics advocate this is because they believe humans incorrectly assume that pleasure is good and pain is to be avoided; instead of actually determining what pleasures are good, they bypass the issue by simply saying that you should not be a victim of them. For the stoics the possibility of being a victim is neutralized by learning to control only what you can control, and leaving anything else aside; so for many, it seems to be that one cannot control one's pleasures--rather, for the stoics, they do grant that one will be pleasured, and possibly without one's consent, but it is the case that one can avoid this, and be apathetic by not placing any value in said pleasure. Thus, my argument is claiming one can bypass suffering (apathy) by not investing oneself in either pleasure or pain.


I don't agree with this for a number of reasons.

Why is pleasure and pain given a negative association? Both of these elements help people to learn and grow. If we make a choice in the past, which we come to regret, we can make our future decisions based off this unpleasant experience.

Desire is a necessary emotion every species needs to thrive. Take, for instance, our sex drive. Sex, naturally, is a motivation for all animals. In order for all animals to reproduce, there must be some initiate to do so. The same goes for eating, sleeping, and all other instinctive drives.
Debate Round No. 1


I'd like to thank my opponent for accepting my challenge and I'll address their counter-arguments as best possible.

The chief objection is well understood: why would pleasure or pain be bad? For the stoics, the answer to this is as follows: it's not so much that these states aren't valued because, epistemically, knowledge-wise, they aren't valuable--it is simply that ethically these states produce awful character: pain avoiders lack courage, pleasure seekers enslave themselves to objects. So, while you may learn from these states, for stoics the real learning comes when these states do not have any reverberation with oneself, and this is only achieved by making reason primary to any other human virtues.

The second objection claims the necessity of desire. The stoics differ on this, in a sense, since they do realize youneed to eat, but they think any type of motivation ought to only be indulged sparingly, so as to never be tied to it. Thus, the problem really comes about by being excessive.


I see what you're explaining here, but then it's really all about moderation. Of course, life should always have some moderation to it. Every painful and pleasurable thing should never be in excess, but this should go without saying.

From what I understood about the Stoics was, as you quoted, was "one should neither suffer pain nor pleasure."

These are two different arguments.
Debate Round No. 2


Well, I wouldn't say that these are two different arguments. It seems that this debate hinges on whether or not moderation is the solution to the troubles of the human experience. The stoics would advocate that it, indeed, isn't, since it is one thing to simply moderate oneself, but quite another, one much more divine and godly, to actually avoid the possibility of evening needing to satiate oneself. This is part of why the stoics advocate that one ought to consider life as a choice, and death as nothing to be feared, since if both of these believes are instilled, even starvation no longer becomes a problem, and thus moderation doesn't seem to be necessary to solve any ills. As Epictetus once said, if thirsty, one ought to walk around all day, nearest to one's most parched thirst, and then continue on, because this will prepare one for when one has no possibility of moderation, since nothing, at all, is available to moderate.


And what if someone doesn't have the will power to moderate their life, as you say? What's the worst possibility that could happen?

All of these ideas seem like common sense. The worst case scenario, if someone doesn't have the will power over pleasure and pain, they kill themselves
Debate Round No. 3
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Vote Placed by One_Winged_Rook 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: I give the point to CON for pointing out PRO's preference for moderation, not stoicism (as PRO defined it)... thereby negating his arguments and winning the debate