Stoicism & Markets – #3 by MarginCaller – General – Trading Q&A by Zerodha

Hmm Philosophy, my guilty time sink. Let me quickly write my thoughts nobody asked or needs…

This is actually one of the reasons Stoicism was considered to be a rich man’s philosophy in ancient times. The “Big 3 Stoics”, were Seneca, the richest man in Rome in his time, Marcus Aurelius, the last good emperor of Rome and Epictetus, a former slave turned leader of the biggest stoic school in his later years.

It is debated whether this philosophy was founded by Zeno of Citium after his travels to India, or after having studied the prevalent Indian Schools of thought at the time. Even if we do not get into fact-finding, it is very clear that Stoicism is very similar to the Philosophy of “Detached Attachment” professed much earlier in the Bhagavad Gita. The principle of focusing on Karma without being burdened by attachment of the fruits of one’s labor for they are not in your control.

This particular philosophy in whatever name or form has always found takers because the central premise is so irresistible:
A. Animals are emotional creatures.
B.Humans are creatures of reason
C. This means that to be a superior human, one should let reason rule over the domain of emotions.

In this respect Stoicism or any other similar personal philosophies are extremely helpful for one’s mental wellbeing if one can practice to shut out as much noise as they can and instead retreat within. Mental wellbeing is usually correlated with better decision making which in turn is correlated to better outcomes in life in general.

The Corollary to this would be of course, that there is a reason it was considered a richman’s philosophy and patronized by the well to do. It is because when you’ve been dealt a bad hand by life, or if you have dealt it to yourself. Emotions aren’t a part of your life, Emotions are your life. It would take a very strong-minded individual to see scarcity, pain, misery, struggle and failure on the daily, and accept what is and what is not in one’s control. Tell a person who has just lost half his capital to be “detachedly-attached” and it is quite likely, you will have something thrown at you in rage.

This angle is enshrined famously by Clint Eastwood in the movie “A Fistful of Dollars” when he says the Dialogue :

When a man’s got money in his pocket he begins to appreciate peace

Or why even better that even in scriptures it took Vishnu himself to incarnate in his most superior form to tell the world this, it wasn’t a Human telling other Human to let go of emotional control.

So to wrap both sides up.

  1. Is Stoicism helpful in the Markets, or conduct of life in general. Absolutely yes.
  2. Is Stoicism really difficult to practice in situations that actually warrant its use. Absolutely yes.

Leave a Comment