Comics are a wonderful medium for exploring philosophy and making different schools of thought more accessible to a wider audience. Superheroes and supervillains regularly battle over huge philosophical and ideological perspectives on the page and in movies.
Endurance is a universal concept across all kinds of philosophy and a superhero who is forced to ask himself the question of what endurance means every day is Wolverine. Throughout his long life, Wolverine has endured some truly horrific situations and there are Stoic insights to be gleaned from his experiences.
I’m not saying Wolverine is pure Stoic. What I’m saying is there are certain Stoic lessons that can be taken from the character. Let’s see what they are.
Living in accordance with nature
The ancient Stoics believed in living in accordance with nature. This means living in harmony with the wider universe, with the people around you, with plants and animals and with yourself.
Logan’s version of this is trying to reconcile the animal and the man that lives inside of him. He may never find the perfect balance or get it right all the time. But he’s come to accept his nature and he strives to be better than he was the day before.
This gels with the idea of the Stoic sage, a person who has achieved complete enlightenment. Getting to that point is unlikely yet we can all strive to live that ideal.
Adopt the circles of concern
In Stoicism, there’s a concept called The Circles Of Concern, an idea proposed by the philosopher Hierocles. This concept was designed to bring more awareness of our surroundings and our sense of self.
The first circle contains the mind/self and the outer circles contain categories of people and roles. For example, the second circle is the body, the third circle contains parents, siblings and family, the fourth involves other family members etc.
Hierocles’ idea was that we should draw each circle closer to our centre and treat each category like members of our immediate circle. This could mean treating friends in the same way we treat our parents and we increase the concern and compassion we show to the rest of humanity.
The Circles Of Concern model is evident in Wolverine’s life. His mind is at the centre and he extends his circles out to the X-Men, who he sees as his family, his children Laura Kinney and Daken, people he mentors such as Kitty Pryde and Jubilee and so on.
Serve your community
Stoicism emphasises the importance of community. We’re all part of a greater cosmopolis of people who have a duty to each other and the universe.
Doing the right thing and serving your community is a way to bring some goodness into the world and Wolverine embodies that attitude as a member of the X-Men. He is like a samurai, a warrior who serves communities that are outside of his own and staying loyal to the things he believes in.
Embrace your role
The role you play is another key point in Stoicism, with ancient Stoics like Panaetius of Rhodes and Epictetus proposing acceptance of who you are in the moment. Are you a father? A friend? A sister? A daughter? Think about the nature of who you need to be at any given time and do your best to live it in relation to the person you’re interacting with.
Wolverine has been in a lot of roles: soldier, hero, father, brother, son, vigilante, spy and more. He’s struggled against certain roles. He’s not always been able to live up to each one but he continues to try.
Download your free copy of How To Endure Like Wolverine
Want to know more about Wolverine’s personal philosophy? I’ve created a free PDF that dives deep into the character and what endurance means. You’ll learn:
- The tragic origins of Wolverine
- His connection to Japan and how it’s shaped his personal philosophy
- Quirky facts about Logan for super comic book geeks
- Inspirational quotes that can be applied to your life