Stoic passions are various forms of emotional suffering in Stoicism, a school of Hellenistic philosophy.
The passions are transliterated pathê from Greek. The Greek word pathos was a wide-ranging term indicating an infliction one suffers. The Stoics used the word to discuss many common emotions such as anger, fear and excessive joy. A passion is a disturbing and misleading force in the mind which occurs because of a failure to reason correctly. For the Stoic Chrysippus the passions are evaluative judgements. A person experiencing such an emotion has incorrectly valued an indifferent thing. A fault of judgement, some false notion of good or evil, lies at the root of each passion. Incorrect judgement as to a present good gives rise to delight, while lust is a wrong estimate about the future. Unreal imaginings of evil cause distress about the present, or fear for the future.
These states of feeling are disturbances of mental health which upset the natural balance of the soul, and destroy its self-control. They are harmful because they conflict with right reason. The ideal Stoic would instead measure things at their real value, and see that the passions are not natural. To be free of the passions is to have a happiness which is self-contained. There would be nothing to fear—for unreason is the only evil; no cause for anger—for others cannot harm you.
The Stoics beginning with Zeno arranged the passions under four headings: distress, pleasure, fear and lust. One report of the Stoic definitions of these passions appears in the treatise On Passions by Pseudo-Andronicus (trans. Long & Sedley, pg. 411, modified):
Two of these passions (distress and delight) refer to emotions currently present, and two of these (fear and lust) refer to emotions directed at the future. Thus there are just two states directed at the prospect of good and evil, but subdivided as to whether they are present or future:
Numerous subdivisions of the same class are brought under the head of the separate passions. The definitions are those of the translation of Cicero's Tusculan Disputations by J. E. King.
The wise person (sophos) is someone who is free from the passions (apatheia). Instead the sage experiences good-feelings (eupatheia) which are clear-headed. These emotional impulses are not excessive, but nor are they diminished emotions. Instead they are the correct rational emotions. The Stoics listed the good-feelings under the headings of joy (chara), wish (boulesis), and caution (eulabeia). Thus if something is present which is a genuine good, then the wise person experiences an uplift in the soul—joy (chara). The Stoics also subdivided the good-feelings: