Understanding Stoicism vs nihilism is important in your understanding of life as they are two of the most prominent philosophies in today’s society. What are these two philosophies, and how are they similar or different? This article will go over the differences between these two views, while also distinguishing the similarities that both have in common.

Stoicism vs Nihilism

What is Stoicism?

Stoicism is a philosophical school founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens. It holds classical Greek values and is focused on following reason with humility over emotion.

Stoicism is based on the idea that you cannot trust things that are outside of your control, which includes other people. A stoic willingly give up their desires to avoid being disappointed when they aren’t met. These desires can include power, fame, money, or even pleasure. A stoic only rely on themselves because they believe that no one else will genuinely have their best interest at heart.

Becoming a stoic requires an understanding of emotions and how you respond to external stimuli. The best way to do this is to watch your own reactions and responses when faced with a situation that you would typically respond emotionally to. After this, you can determine if your reaction was healthy or unhealthy.

What is Nihilism?

Nihilism (pronunciation: /naɪˈhɪlɪzəm/) is the philosophical theory stating that nothing exists as a correspondent component of reality and that the world and humans do not exist.

This means that life is essentially meaningless because all living organisms are doomed to extinction. Nihilism also states that society’s growing concern with material goods has overcomplicated human values because things are valued based on monetary value rather than intrinsic value.

Most people think nihilism means “nothing exists” and that everything is meaningless. But this is not how it is used by modern-day nihilists. Instead, “nihilism” means “moral indifference”. Moral indifference claims that we should evaluate our actions on their own merit rather than according to the moral values of society as a whole.

How are Stoicism and Nihilism similar?

The similarities between these two philosophies are obvious. Stoicism is the philosophy of self-control and moral indifference, which require you to assume beliefs that are counterintuitive.

Stoicism promotes the idea that you should not judge things before their time. You shouldn’t be concerned with whether or not your desires were met because you shouldn’t wish for things that cannot exist in the first place. All living organisms are doomed to extinction, so your happiness is very temporary.

Nihilism encourages people to think more about their own personal values than those of society as a whole. You should try to find out what you stand for, and if it’s worthwhile. Society pressures people into wanting things that may not be in their best interest. A nihilist tries to break away from these insecurities and focus on what is in their control, which includes other people.

How are Stoicism and Nihilism different?

Although it’s obvious that Stoicism and Nihilism have a lot of common ground, there are some differences between the philosophies as well. Stoicism goes against some of the values of modern society.

Stoics believe that it’s best to live in silence, which hearkens back to the times of Socrates where Socrates would go into his own private room to contemplate. Today, people will usually scoff at this idea because they don’t want to be alone with their thoughts.

Nihilists believe that life is meaningless and that wealth and power are worthless. However, they also cannot provide an alternative meaning for life. Mencius Moldbug, a major figure in the “neo-reactionary” movement, claims that one can find meaning in life by establishing their values based on more than just wealth and power.

Another major difference between these two philosophies is how they react to the problem of evil. Stoicism deals with the problem of evil by claiming that most problems aren’t worth worrying about because most problems can’t be solved. Instead, they focus on what’s in their control.

Nihilists believe in “radical acceptance”, which deals with the problem of pain by a person accepting a reality that is outside of their control. Nihilists will usually respond that they believe suffering is unavoidable, which is true of any living organism. However, they do not believe suffering is meaningful.

Which philosophical viewpoint is more popular today?

Both philosophies are popular in different ways. Stoicism has become more widespread because of its historical association with Marcus Aurelius. Nihilism is most likely to be found in the environmentalist movement because it illustrates the negative aspects of human behavior.

These philosophies are growing in popularity for different reasons. Stoicism is gaining popularity among young adults because it allows them to regain control over their emotions when faced with difficult situations in life. Nihilism has become more popular because people are becoming more sceptical about society’s values.

Both philosophies can be modified to adapt to modern-day situations, which is why both are growing in popularity. The only problem is that people don’t understand these philosophies deeply enough, which means that their values could change.

Who are famous stoics and nihilists?

Stoicism was started by Zeno of Citium, a famous philosopher who lived from 334–262 B.C.E. Stoicism was popular during the time of Socrates and continued to be popular. People such as the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus became big names in Stoic philosophy.

Epictetus is known for writing “Enchiridion”, which is very similar to Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. He was born in the year 55 C.E., and he learned how to become a stoic after being exiled from Rome. He eventually became the chief advisor to Emperor Hadrian.

Nihilism is considered to be much newer than Stoicism because it was invented in the modern-day. Nihilism describes a world view that isn’t concerned with moral values or whether or not people’s choices are good or evil. Some of the most famous nihilists include Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Albert Camus.

Schopenhauer was born in the year 1788 and he is known for his pessimism. He argued that happiness was something that is impossible to achieve no matter how great our wealth or power. Every living organism is doomed to extinction, so there is nothing to do but enjoy life while it lasts.

Friedrich Nietzsche was born in the year 1844 and he argues that nihilism is the only way to support our values. If we aren’t willing to make sacrifices for our friends, we should consider whether or not they are really worth keeping. He believed that nihilism was a good philosophy of life, and it has become influential across many disciplines such as literature and psychology.

How to adopt the best parts of these philosophies into your life

You can use stoicism to better your emotional intelligence to the point where you don’t need to rely on other people for your personal happiness. You can use nihilism to analyze society’s values and determine what is worthwhile based on their basis.

Remember that these philosophies were created for specific problems, so be sure that you’re addressing the right problem before you adopt these philosophies. If you’re not, you could end up doing the same thing you would do with other philosophies.


Both of these philosophies are similar in that they promote the idea that life is meaningless. However, they come to the conclusion on how to make sense of this meaninglessness very differently. Stoicism encourages people to follow their instincts and use logic as a tool for self-analysis, while nihilism encourages individuals to make their own decisions.

Both philosophies are growing in popularity due to current events. People are realizing the importance of making their own decisions based on their own values, while they try to make sense of their own emotions.

As technology progresses, more people will become disillusioned with society’s values. Stoicism and nihilism can give you the tools you need to make sense of these events by allowing you to analyze your actions according to your own worldview.

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