As Cicero noted in his On Divination, Stoics were determinists who believed in an all-knowing God. This allowed them to be indifferent or resigned to their fate because they felt they couldn’t change it. Like watching a horror suspense movie that has already been recorded, one might be tempted to believe that there is some probability operator determining if a monster is behind a closed door, but in fact, there is no probability. Whether the monster is there or not has already been determined. It’s a certainty, as a viewer of a prior showing can attest. It only appears to be chance.

Stoics believed that, since everything happens by fate, if someone could observe the interconnection of all causes, then s/he could know the future because s/he necessarily knows how everything will unfold cause by cause, frame by frame.

an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded at Athens by Zeno of Citium. The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge; the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason (also identified with Fate and Providence) that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain.

Google Definition, Oxford Languages

This intersects with my research on determinism. I capture this because I find there are a lot of people I encounter on Facebook who are self-proclaimed Stoics, yet they are not necessarily religious or determinists. They simply feel they can will their emotions.


I’ve been accused of being hyper-logical and aloof, and I self-identify as a logical intellectual. This noted, for humans—myself included—emotion precedes logic. Every time. Logic is applied to rationalise our emotional response. This ‘logic’ is based somewhat on classical logic and otherwise on environmental factors. This is one reason that rhetorical persuasion is so effective. It doesn’t loose sight of the emotional element—pathos—whilst retaining logical and ethical notions—logos and ethos.

Stoic dude, Marcus Aurelius

I’ve been accused of being a stoic and Star Trek’s Mr Spock—devoid of emotion—, and on one level I don’t feel that I am run by emotions’ but on the other hand, I likely am. It’s just I can rhetorically convince myself to the contrary.

I find that highly illogical

Epistemologically, how can I know this? I can’t. But I think that this fits into Daniel Kahneman’s 2-system approach, and system 1, the heuristic element, is the first responder to all incidences. System 2, the analytical element often isn’t even alerted. For people of my persuasion, we intentionally invoke system 2, but this is always after system 1 has evaluated the situation. I highly recommend Kahneman’s Thinking Fast & Slow as an introduction to these systems and how they deal (and don’t deal) with cognitive biases.

If I had a dollar

This may be why Emotivism makes sense categorically, as Truth is just another notion wrought from emotion. It is also how humans convince themselves that things like justice and fairness can exist.

And, so, does this post have another point to make? Am I going to elaborate? It seems a bit short. By my own admission, nope.