Hermes, sorry, I thought you were generalizing beyond your own experience. Yes, I’ve encountered “masters” and “gurus” that are nothing but. That reflects badly on them, not on the philosophy they alleged to adopt but fail to.

I don’t think it’s that hard to differentiate between externals and internals. My efforts are internal, outcomes are external. But you are correct that it is difficult to tell whether I really did try my best or not. That’s where wisdom and experience come in.

The Stoic view of human nature is not simplistic because they exclude the other things you list. They simply recognized that those are present in other animals as well, and therefore do not distinguish us specifically. We have to eat, have sex, and so forth. But a human life focused solely or mostly on those activities is an animal life and nothing more.

As for sex, the Roman Stoics do come across as rather prudish. But Zeno and Chrysippus said we should have sex whenever we feel like it, wherever we happen to be. So I don’t think there is an established Stoic view on sex.

I don’t think I made a strawman out of Epicureanism, to which I devoted a significant amount of writing, for instance here:

Stoicism, ethics, and philosophy of science. Complete index, by subject, at

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