Stoicism is often seen as an individualistic philosophy – about self-reliance and detachment – but its techniques are really about pursuing the common good.
If you call someone a Stoic, you probably mean that they have buttoned-up emotions, or can keep calm in the face of adversity, or cultivate resilience through inner strength. To be a Stoic is to be self-reliant.
If you call someone a modern Stoic, then you probably have in mind someone who goes to Stoicism for meditative practices or “lifehacks” for self-growth and improvement. Stoicism helps turn obstacles into opportunities. It’s a philosophy of empowerment.
Either way, you’re likely to think that Stoicism is a philosophy of the self; it’s about self-control or self-development. The good self may not fully retreat to the inner citadel, but it certainly recedes from the social world.
Is this the full legacy of ancient Stoicism? Not at all. The classic texts of Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Seneca tell a different story.