Much of the knowledge pertaining to virtue is the resulting work of Stoics, such as Plato, Aristotle, and Marcus Aurelius. Stoicism can be referred to as the foundation of Christianity however, the lack of a personal relationship with “The One” or God prevents Stoics' souls from reaching their great potential.
Principally, Stoics fundamentally believed that “every event that occurs in the cosmos, from the most important to the most trivial, was fated to occur, and determined to occur” (Brennan, 235). They were fatalists. Furthermore, Stoics, as a whole, tended to view the physical and intellectual world in analytical and logical terms. In Stoicism and its Influence, R. M. Wenley makes the point that “the Stoics attempted to frame a theory of the physical universe, of the individual man as he finds himself under compulsion in this universe and, combining the two, to formulate a rule of life in conformity with Reason” (75). Consequently, Stoics wanted to achieve an other-worldly understanding of the physical and intellectual world they resided in. Moreover, the most important contribution to their central argument was that the highest good lies in virtue, and that the final purpose for man is to achieve happiness.
To achieve said good, many Stoics, like Plato, believed a set, careful process primarily focused in education and meditation was necessary. Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor and Stoic, believed that through “following after the things produced according to nature”, one could begin to develop a virtuous soul, as shown in his Meditations (Book III: 2). Continuing his discourse of Platonic and Aristotelian principles, in Book II, line 7, Aurelius advises his reader to “give thyself time to learn something new and good, and cease to be whirled around. But then thou must also avoid being about the other way”. Like Aristotle's diagram of virtues and vices, Aurelius recognized that one had to remain cautious when pursing a virtuous life. In accordance with most Stoics, the Roman Emperor realized that it was easy to fall into vice. Now, Stoics were not opposed to 'pleasure' however, they recognized that there were two types of pleasure: physical satisfaction and intellectual, moral contentment. For Stoics, pleasure must coincide with what was primarily in accordance with nature (Rist 53). Therefore, Stoics emulated that which was produced by nature and avoided that which tainted it.
Though Christians agreed with Stoics in the sense that it was easy to fall into vice or sin, their outlook on such ideas was entirely different. Primarily, Christianity's personal relationship with their monotheistic God endowed them with this differing perspective on sin or vice. Moreover, Stoics believed that when man fell into vice, “their souls would do violence onto themselves” (Book II: 16). Christians, on the other hand, believed that while their souls would suffer, they would simultaneously be affecting their relationship with their God. In Paul's...