Apathy is mental laziness. Apatheia, in contrast, is a term from Stoic philosophy that means something quite different and far more interesting: a conscious not-caring about things that are unworthy of concern. Stoic sages (theoretical ideals; none exist) practice apatheia when they avoid emotional reactions to mundane events. The concept is close to the Buddhist wu wei, "not-do", approach to life (the Zen mu!).
Stoics focus their passion on virtue, right living in harmony with the highest potentials of humanity --- and so they are and should be utterly indifferent in the face of most day-to-day distractions. Strong feelings are simply inappropriate reactions to irrelevant happenstance. Clinging to emotions is childish, or animal, behavior. People can do better.
Friday, September 03, 1999 at 20:38:28 (EDT) = Datetag19990903