Many people wonder if Stoics are really coldhearted or emotionless. Because our society views Stoics as only rational like Spock from StarTrek or Batman, there is a common notion that being Stoic means being emotionless and cold towards others. But is that the reality? I researched and polled some people practicing the philosophy to know the answer.
Stoics aren’t coldhearted. While people regard Stoics as people who are unfeeling or cold, this is far from reality. In practice, Stoics accept emotion as they are a part of life. What makes Stoics different is they handle emotions with courage and wisdom.
In the poll I’ve conducted, I’ve gathered 368 respondents answering this very question. Much like my personal view, we can see that Stoics aren’t emotionless. Instead, they learn how to respond to emotions appropriately. I will explain these in this post and why Stoics aren’t emotionless, unlike what the majority thinks.
Are Stoics coldhearted?
Based on the poll, 91.3% or 336 of the respondents said that Stoics aren’t coldhearted, while 8.7% or 32 think they are. This means most people practicing Stoicism know that Stoics aren’t emotionless or coldhearted. Instead, they know how not to let their emotion drive their actions. Instead, they think and act with logic and wisdom.
|Number of Votes||Percentage of Votes|
|Stoics are Cold hearted||32||8.7%|
|Stoics aren’t Cold hearted||336||91.3%|
But how? While more than 90% of people answered that Stoics aren’t coldhearted, some still think they are.
Well, that’s what I will talk about in this blog post. I will show you under what instance people can think they are and what makes them people with emotions.
But first, let’s answer why 8.7% or 32 respondents say that Stoics are emotionless or coldhearted.
First, this is the consensus of people outside Stoicism. Remember that I polled the Stoicism community.
This means that almost all the respondents are practicing Stoicism in some part of their lives.
That might explain why some are just interested and philosophy and answered that they are emotionless.
Remember that Stoics know how to respond to emotions. Instead of lashing out at people because things don’t go their way, Stoics will be relaxed and accept that life can throw bad things at us. This concept is what they call “Amor Fati,” or loving one’s fate.
To the eyes of outsiders, this might look like emotionless people. However, since Stoics tend not to let emotions harm their actions, it might seem unnatural to some.
In that sense, they might see Stoics as emotionless. However, that is far from the truth.
That is why in the poll, 336 out of the 368 people who answered the poll said that Stoics aren’t coldhearted.
That is equivalent to 91.3% of votes.
But why are Stoics not coldhearted? Why are the majority of Stoicism practitioners believe that they aren’t coldhearted? That’s what we will answer in the next section.
Is Stoicism being emotionless?
Stoicism isn’t being emotionless. Instead, it is a practice of controlling emotions from turning into passion. While it is normal for people to have feelings such as happiness or anger, they know how to respond to them appropriately to prevent any irrational decisions or actions.
Now that I’ve answered why some people see Stoics as emotionless, I will show you why Stoics aren’t that coldhearted.
For one, we need to understand that all of us can feel emotions. In fact, emotions are deep into our brains compared to logical thinking.
The Stoics also know this, and since they believe in the dichotomy of control, they understand that being 100% emotionless is nearly impossible.
But first, what is the dichotomy of control?
The dichotomy control is one of the basic Stoic lessons that say everything around us can be divided into things inside and outside our control.
When things are outside their control, Stoics accept it as a fact of life. They are people who only focus on the things they can control
Since emotions are deep within our brain, it is impossible not to feel them.
The Stoics also know this thus, instead of trying to prevent themselves from feeling emotions, they accept feelings at face value.
However, when dealing with emotions, the Stoics understand that following the dichotomy of control, we control our perceptions and reactions to these emotions.
For example, when we are angry, we can either lash out at the people around us or understand what made us feel angry.
Instead of being angry at everyone around us, we can analyze why we feel this emotion.
Maybe we are angry because we are bad at our job, and instead of reacting negatively, we can see it as a sign we can use to improve our skills.
You see, our perception decides if our experience is good or bad.
For example, we can be sad because of a breakup, but we can use it to improve ourselves if we perceive it as a learning opportunity.
As you can see, Stoics aren’t really coldhearted. They just know that their perception of emotion is the thing that matters.
They know that they can control our reactions to these emotions with logic.
That is also why it is not true that Stoics don’t get angry or annoyed. These feelings are normal, and the only thing that differentiates them from others is Stoics know how to react to anger.
I made a detailed blog post talking about the relationship between anger and Stoicism. You may view it here: Do Stoics get angry?
I also made a detailed discussion on Stoicism and emotions in another blog post. If you are interested, you may visit this post: Do Stoics feel emotion?
However, there is still another question. How do Stoics handle these emotions and react with logic? That’s what I will introduce in the next section.
How do Stoics remain Logical?
The Stoics remain rational or logical by not letting their emotions turn into passion. This is because they believe that passion or too much emotion can mask our rational thinking. Thus, while Stoics accept emotions, they tend to prevent emotions from turning into passion.
If you’ve experienced making some bad decisions due to too much emotions, such as extreme loneliness, then you aren’t alone.
The Stoics understand that emotions can turn into a passion that can harm our rational thinking.
While being sad isn’t bad, especially if we perceive these emotions better, being extremely sad can cause us to be less rational.
For example, a sad person can try things they don’t usually do to ease their pain. Some go to shopping splurge and, in the end, ruin their wallets.
These intense emotions are what Stoics call passion. They understand that emotions ruin their logical thinking when emotions turn into passion.
Thus, to stay rational, when they feel like they’re filled with passion, they tend to pause and relax until the burst of emotion ends.
In short, they don’t decide when they’re in the hands of passion.
That way, they can remain rational.
Thus, even if Stoics tend to be rational, they aren’t coldhearted. Instead, they accept the emotion and understand that their perception decides if the feeling is good or bad.
Lastly, Stoics prevent emotions from turning into a passion, making them look coldhearted for other people.
What’s Next? How about knowing the goal of the Stoics? I made another post about why people practice Stoicism if you’re interested. You may find it here: What is the Stoic’s goal?