Time has been very expansive, and consciousness came well before humanity.
There is a missing element that modern Stoics don’t usually embrace. The Hegemon, or logos, is still alive and aware in the world. The world is itself possessed of intelligence in the original Stoic view. They saw life as a constant dialogue, a “debate” if you will, with that intelligence. They did believe in adhering to a moral code, but they didn’t attribute this to God. It was seen as a human adaptation, an insight based on observation of the actions of the logos.
They knew the actions of the logos as “fate”, but they were contrary to modern fatalist thinking. They didn’t see any event as coming true because it was always true, which is the fatalist view. To a fatalist, you got up this morning because we were always going to get up this morning, and if you don’t tomorrow it’s because it was always true that you wouldn’t on the following day. In the Stoic view of fate that’s not how it works. Something becomes true through the action of the logos, and new events can arise from that process of dialogue with the world.
Stoics saw it was fate, but mutable. Basically, you always get the answer to the questions you put forth by taking action. So if you do something reckless, to the Stoics you are asking, “Will I get hurt?” In their observation it’s “Most often, yes.” To a Stoic, if something happens to you, you really did ask for it even if you didn’t understand.
They say that if you can understand these questions, if you understand the process of the dialogue with the hegemon/logos/god, you can avoid all misfortune, but you cannot avoid misfortune if you defer to desire. If you don’t seize the situation with reason, and see the reason in any event, they basically say you are choosing your poison. Unlike the Cynics, they didn’t believe that ownership or enjoyment of anything was totally wrong, but they believed that you needed to remain detached even in the face of pleasure. To a Stoic, art is good, but if it moves you to emotion you aren’t getting it. Marriage is good, but if you become emotional over your partner you aren’t getting it. I personally am not Stoic, though I do share some of their views. I do share some even with the Cynics.
They do seem to eliminate a big part of reality by denying emotion? Ah, they don’t deny emotion, but they see it as subsistent. It’s real, but it’s something to master.
I would imagine the true Stoic view is that by not listening to emotion as much, the Stoic is able to more carefully focus on reality. That “reality” is separate from the emotional reaction to it. Yes, that’s correct and it is their view, and by keeping to that they can avoid misfortune and move closer to the source of truth. The originating spirit of the universe. So Stoics are sort of deist, just not anthropomorphic.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.