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  • kcantekin 9:33 am on February 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: choice, , , , , responsibility, satisfaction,   

    On satisfaction 

    Epictetus – Discourses Book 1
    I.12. On satisfaction

    There are five theories about the existence of God.

    1. Outright denial of the existence of any divinity.
    2. That God exists but is completely indifferent to anything.
    3. That God exists but is attentive to only heavenly matters, and that he never attends to earthly matters.
    4. That God exists and attends to earthly matters, including human welfare, but only in a general way.
    5. That God is so attentive to humans that we cannot to anything without him noticing.

    Odysseus and Socrates were proponents of the fifth view.

    But if God is so attentive to human affairs, and if we wish to ‘follow the gods’ as the Stoics and Platonics tell us to do, how can we be free?

    What is freedom? Is it having everything go according to our will and never contrary to it?

    Wanting all your wishes realised without caring about the reason behind those wishes is the definition of insanity. Is insanity and freedom the same thing? Of course not.

    Freedom does not mean that your wishes get a carte blanche. As with writing, music, and every other art and science where we have to learn to bring our will in line with the way these disciplines work, with freedom too we have to learn aligning our will to the order of the universe that God has created.

    Education helps us understand nature’s way, and the way of our own individual nature; so that we can start aligning our will to how things happen, and stay remain true to our own nature.

    Complaining, protesting, griping, whining and getting upset when faced with certain circumstances is the exact opposite behaviour we are seeking to achieve.

    If you feel desolate when you are alone, you should feel like God’s equal in divine uniqueness instead.

    If you are complaining of your company, and being upset of the dispositions of the people who are with you, you should feel like a guest in a feast or festival instead.

    If you refuse to keep your will in line with the circumstances, you will be doomed to be unhappy. Then, you are in prison. Conversely, Socrates was not in prison precisely because he chose to be in prison.

    You should not complain of the circumstances of your bodily existence, it is a gift from God. Do you want to make God your enemy? Do you want to go against him?

    Instead, why not care about and cherish your reason, which is the greatest gift of all and which is your side where you are equal with the gods.

    Being miserable for things that you don’t control is a waste of time and potential.

    But for the problems that you can control, the virtues of your character are all you need to deal with them.

    “You should thank the gods for making you strong enough to survive what you cannot control, and only responsible for what you can. The gods have released you from accountability for your parents, your siblings, your body, your possessions – for death and for life itself. They made you responsible only for what is in your power – the proper use of impressions. So why take on the burden of matters which you cannot answer for? You are only making unnecessary problems for yourself.”

  • kcantekin 10:12 am on February 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: choice, , , ,   

    Concerning family affection 

    Epictetus – Discourses Book 1
    I.11. Concerning family affection

    1. What we observe occuring naturally must not be confused with what ought to happen.
    2. That is because our impressions based on our different ideas of right and wrong effect how we observe natural phenomena.
    3. As rational beings we strive to do the rational thing, the right thing, based on our impressions of natural phenomena.
    4. However impressions are a matter of choice. They are judgments, and we are masters of our own judgments.
    5. It follows that what we do is solidly based on our choices about our impressions and not on anything external to us.

    Take the father who does not remain by her sick daughter’s bed, because he cannot bear the grief of seeing her sick. Is this good and natural behaviour, based on affection?

    The father leaves his daughter’s side because he thinks this is a good idea at the time, he thinks this is the rational thing to do at that moment. But closer scrutiny will show that this choice is based on a warped understanding of what is natural; that watching a loved one suffer is painful, and that it is natural and rational to escape from such pain.

    However you must see that this reasoning is simply and completely based on his impression of death and pain. His opinion that these things are bad and must be counteracted upon.

    But as we learned earlier, we must not assign the qualities of good and bad to phenomena external to us. We must be careful to apply desire and aversion to external things. Applying this principle to our impressions is a matter of choice and education.

    If the father in our example had not assigned the quality of bad to the suffering of his daughter and the pain this caused to him, and had he not applied aversion to this external phenomena, he could reason that is is a natural norm that family members show affection and support to each other in times of infirmity. And that is is natural that a father comforts his sick daughter. Once the natural norm is found, subjective impressions on external phenomena will no longer effect our ability to do the right choices in life.

    The discovery of this natural norm is the objective of our education. Once the natural norm is found, and desire and aversion are applied in accordance with the requirements of these norms, a theory of good and bad – or ethics – will emerge.



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