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Justus Lipsius, the founder of Neostoicism Justus Lipsius.png
Justus Lipsius, the founder of Neostoicism

Neostoicism was a syncretic philosophical movement, founded by Flemish humanist Justus Lipsius, that attempted to combine the beliefs of Stoicism and Christianity. In his seminal period in the Northern Netherlands (Leiden, 1578–1591), Lipsius published two most significant works: De Constantia (1583) and Politica (1589).

Religious syncretism

Religious syncretism exhibits blending of two or more religious belief systems into a new system, or the incorporation into a religious tradition of beliefs from unrelated traditions. It is contrasted by the idea of multiple religious belonging and polytheism, respectively.

A philosophical movement is either the appearance or increased popularity of a specific school of philosophy, or a fairly broad but identifiable sea-change in philosophical thought on a particular subject. Major philosophical movements are often characterized with reference to the nation, language, or historical era in which they arose.

The Flemish or Flemings are a Germanic ethnic group native to Flanders, in modern Belgium, who speak Flemish, but mostly use the Dutch written language. They are one of two principal ethnic groups in Belgium, the other being the French-speaking Walloons. Flemish people make up the majority of the Belgian population. Historically, all inhabitants of the medieval County of Flanders were referred to as "Flemings", irrespective of the language spoken. The contemporary region of Flanders comprises a part of this historical county, as well as parts of the medieval duchy of Brabant and the medieval county of Loon.


Not to be confused with modern Stoicism, a similar movement in the early 21st century.

Modern Stoicism is an intellectual and popular movement in the late 20th and early 21st century which attempts to revive the Stoic philosophy in the modern setting. It is not to be confused with Neostoicism, an analogous phenomenon in the 17th century. The term "Modern Stoicism" covers both the revival of interest in the Stoic philosophy and the philosophical efforts to adjust Ancient Stoicism to the language and conceptual framework of the present. 'The rise of Modern Stoicism' has received attention in the international media since around November 2012 when the first Annual Stoic Week event was organized.


Neostoicism was founded by Flemish humanist Justus Lipsius (1547 – 1606), who in 1584 presented its rules, expounded in his book De constantia (On Constancy), as a dialogue between Lipsius and his friend Charles de Langhe. [1] In the dialogue, Lipsius and de Langhe explore aspects of contemporary political predicaments, by reference to the classical Greek and pagan Stoicism, in particular as found in the Latin writings of Seneca. He further developed Neostoicism in his treatises Manuductionis ad stoicam philosophiam (Introduction to the Stoic Philosophy) and Physiologia stoicorum (Physics of the Stoics), both published in 1604.

Justus Lipsius Southern-Netherlandish philologist

Justus Lipsius was a Flemish philologist, philosopher and humanist. Lipsius wrote a series of works designed to revive ancient Stoicism in a form that would be compatible with Christianity. The most famous of these is De Constantia. His form of Stoicism influenced a number of contemporary thinkers, creating the intellectual movement of Neostoicism. He taught at the universities in Jena, Leiden and Leuven.

Dialogue is a written or spoken conversational exchange between two or more people, and a literary and theatrical form that depicts such an exchange. As a narrative, philosophical or didactic device, it is chiefly associated in the West with the Socratic dialogue as developed by Plato, but antecedents are also found in other traditions including Indian literature.

Seneca the Younger Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, and dramatist

Seneca the Younger(c. 4 BC – AD 65), fully Lucius Annaeus Seneca and also known simply as Seneca, was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and—in one work—satirist of the Silver Age of Latin literature.

Neostoicism is a practical philosophy which holds that the basic rule of good life is that the human should not yield to the passions, but submit to God. Neostoicism recognizes four passions: greed, joy, fear and sorrow. Although the human has the free will, everything that happens (even if it is wrong because of the human) is under control of God and finally it tends to the good. The human who complies with this rule is free, because he is not overcome by the instincts. He is also calm, because all the material pleasures and sufferings are irrelevant for him. Finally, he is really, spiritually happy, because he lives close to God.

Philosophy intellectual and/or logical study of general and fundamental problems

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

Life Characteristic that distinguishes physical entities having biological processes

Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased, or because they never had such functions and are classified as inanimate. Various forms of life exist, such as plants, animals, fungi, protists, archaea, and bacteria. The criteria can at times be ambiguous and may or may not define viruses, viroids, or potential synthetic life as "living". Biology is the science concerned with the study of life.

Human Species of hominid

Humans are the only extant members of the subtribe Hominina. Together with chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, they are part of the family Hominidae. A terrestrial animal, humans are characterized by their erect posture and bipedal locomotion; high manual dexterity and heavy tool use compared to other animals; open-ended and complex language use compared to other animal communications; larger, more complex brains than other animals; and highly advanced and organized societies.

Neostoicism had a direct influence on many seventeenth and eighteenth-century writers including Montesquieu, Bossuet, Francis Bacon, Joseph Hall, Francisco de Quevedo and Juan de Vera y Figueroa. [2] The work of Guillaume du Vair, Traité de la Constance (1594), was another important influence in the Neostoicism movement, but while Lipsius based his Stoicism on the writings of Seneca, du Vair emphasised the Stoic thought of Epictetus. [3] The painter Peter Paul Rubens was a disciple and friend of Lipsius, and there is a painting made by Rubens, now in the Pitti Palace showing Rubens standing next to Lipsius as he teaches two students who are seated in front of him. [4] [5]

Montesquieu French social commentator and political thinker

Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French judge, man of letters, and political philosopher.

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet French bishop and theologian

Jacques-Bénigne Lignel Bossuet was a French bishop and theologian, renowned for his sermons and other addresses. He has been considered by many to be one of the most brilliant orators of all time and a masterly French stylist.

Francis Bacon English philosopher and statesman

Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban, was an English philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General and as Lord Chancellor of England. His works are credited with developing the scientific method and remained influential through the scientific revolution.

See also

Apatheia, in Stoicism, refers to a state of mind in which one is not disturbed by the passions. It is best translated by the word equanimity rather than indifference. The meaning of the word apatheia is quite different from that of the modern English apathy, which has a distinctly negative connotation. According to the Stoics, apatheia was the quality that characterized the sage.

Book of Job book of the Bible

The Book of Job is a book in the Ketuvim ("Writings") section of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), and the first poetic book in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. Addressing the problem of theodicy – the vindication of the justice of God in the light of humanity's suffering – it is a rich theological work setting out a variety of perspectives. It has been widely praised for its literary qualities, with Alfred Lord Tennyson calling it "the greatest poem of ancient and modern times".

Christianity and Hellenistic philosophy

Christianity and Hellenistic philosophies experienced complex interactions during the first to the fourth centuries.


  1. Justus Lipsius, On Constancy available in English translation by John Stradling, edited by John Sellars (Bristol Phoenix Press, 2006).
  2. Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). "Justus Lipsius". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy .
  3. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: John Sellars, Neostoicism.
  4. Stoics and Neostoics: Rubens and the Circle of Lipsius by Mark Morford, Bryn Mawr Classical Review.
  5. Peter Paul Rubens The Four Philosophers, The Artchive.

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