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Stoicism

Post  Achrelus on Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:40 am

I have been reading up some on stoicism and was wondering if someone could give me a more brief overview and hear some oppinions on it.
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Re: Stoicism

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:31 am

I've also been doing some reading on it, though I'm not very in-depth in it yet. However, so far, I have a positive view of it, in general. There are a few things that don't sit well with me, such as their views on when suicide is acceptable, etc., but a generally positive view.

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Re: Stoicism

Post  Erodius on Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:45 am

The Stoics' philosophy is in whole a great seed of Virtue, itself the mortal end of the bargain of the Soul's salvation in the Orphic religion. It is largely consistent with the reasonably ecumenical philosophical tenets that were common to most religious movements developing in the Hellenistic and Imperial periods.

As for introductions, there is an excellent and scholarly introduction from Stanford University available here:
Stoicism

The works of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus are genuinely sublime:
Works of Epictetus


Of interest might also be the Meditations of Roman general, emperor, and philosopher Marcus Aurelius:
Meditations


I hope that's helpful. Wink

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Stoicism

Post  Achrelus on Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:18 pm

Thanks, and I actually found some hard copy books on stoicism (including a more modern book about it and the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius) that I'm going to read. There is one point I want cleared up though, and I think might be good to discuss. There is in many philosophical-religious traditions a stress on ridding ones self of desire. Two thing then arose to me. Is there a distinction between  desire and want/preference, and where is the line drawn between desire and need? The line between these three ideas (want desire and need) can become somewhat blurred when you start to consider them, and I would like to hear some oppinions on this.
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Re: Stoicism

Post  Erodius on Fri Jul 12, 2013 12:06 am

Αχρηλος wrote:Is there a distinction between  desire and want/preference, and where is the line drawn between desire and need?

So long as the illusory I, the false self, the ego is involved, there is no difference between desire and want; 'needs' are only desires so crucial to the continuation of the body — and thus, cyclical, mortal existence — that, unless they are met, the body perishes, and the soul has to await another birth to try again for its salvation. Depending on the religion and philosophical tradition, this concept is termed 'greed', 'desire', 'grasping', 'passion', 'egoism' etc. but, strikingly, across centuries and continents, this basic 'key of deliverance' is recognized by nearly every major salvific religio-philosophical system — Stoics, Platonists, Orphics, Gnostics, Christians, esoteric Jews, and Sufi Muslims in the West, and various Hindu schools, Taoism, Jainism, and most famously Buddhism, in the East).

However, certainly, it is not typically the point of any of these religions to simply cultivate apathy. This is where the difference becomes key between self-derived desire/passion and the Absolute, by whatever word or name these different religions call it. For Stoics, it is Reason/Logos, for Platonists, it is the Good, for Orphics, it is the Supreme Aether/Zas-Ericepaeus, for the Gnostics, it is the Pleroma/Bythos, for Christians, Jews and Muslims, it is God, for Hindus, Brahman, for Taoists, the Tao, and for Jains and Buddhists it is the Truth/Dharma.

Desire/passion is allowed to exist by a certain measure of individual free will, which all of the above systems recognize (though the different systems' explanations of why this is true get much more complex). As such, desires/passions are any volition that arises with the illusory self as its source, rather than the Absolute, and/or which is focused on the self and its praise, gratification or self-ness.

Any such selfish passion, is, by definition, counter to the Absolute — if it were not so, it would not be passion, since, aligned perfectly to the truth of the absolute, there is no passion, because the self is then in recognition of its own existence not as independent, but simply as a speck of the Absolute. This perfect absorption of the self by the True Absolute is the ultimate deliverance in such systems as the above which affirm it. It is salvation from any and all pain, suffering and death — the Absolute neither feels pain, nor suffers, nor dies — it is sublime bliss and perfect, true freedom, — bliss separate from binary happiness-sadness, and freedom apart from binary freedom-slavery. Nonduality eternal.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Stoicism

Post  Achrelus on Fri Jul 12, 2013 12:35 am

What of preference? For instance, if I am handed a menue at a restaraunt any item on it will serve the purpose of sustaining the body, but I will naturally choose to eat the one that I like most. By choosing a particular food item, I am inherently expressing a greater want for that item than the others. From what I understand so far, from reading Marcus Aurelius, as long as I could be content with or without that choice it is not really desire. Do I understand this correctly? It seems, perhapse I am naive still, that it is ingrained in our nature to desire. Is this talking about moderate and controled desire, rather than none at all?
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Re: Stoicism

Post  Erodius on Fri Jul 12, 2013 3:31 am

Αχρηλος wrote:What of preference? For instance, if I am handed a menue at a restaraunt any item on it will serve the purpose of sustaining the body, but I will naturally choose to eat the one that I like most. By choosing a particular food item, I am inherently expressing a greater want for that item than the others. From what I understand so far, from reading Marcus Aurelius, as long as I could be content with or without that choice it is not really desire. Do I understand this correctly? It seems, perhapse I am naive still, that it is ingrained in our nature to desire. Is this talking about moderate and controled desire, rather than none at all?

I am not specifically a Stoic, and have not read all of Aurelius, so I cannot say specifically in that instance what Aurelius' Stoic conclusion would be.

I would make the argument that, if it were truly a non-desirous choice in that instance, one ought to be able to simply close one's eyes and point to an item. Not a perfect example, but the idea is there.

It is absolutely ingrained in us to be impulsive and desirous (like I said, from my understanding, most, if not all, of the systems I mentioned earlier recognize that the power of our passions over us is immense.

As far as what the exact goal is in the overcoming of desire — here it does vary by religion and system. In Theravadin Buddhism, for instance, there is typically no teaching of any intelligent being on the other side of one's progress toward liberation. For them, yes, the final goal is the complete cessation of the self and its egoistic desires in order to be freed eternally from cyclical rebirth. They believe that it is exceedingly difficult, though possible, to fully quell ones passions and desires. However, in other systems, Orphism for instance, and Sufi Islam, and many Hindu bhakti sects, there is something of a 'meet part way' understanding. In these, it is up to the individual to progress as far as he/she is able to in alignment of the self with the Absolute, and then it is left up to God, usually after your death, to decide whether or not to reach out to your soul and, so to speak, bring you the rest of the way into the harbor. In other words, it is recognized by these religions that complete dissolution of the ego is not actually possible during life. The individual is cut a bit more of a break. You can only hope to do your best, and you cannot sail all the way to the other shore on your own — God has to pull you in. All there is to do is sail as far as you can, and hope that you have gone far enough, and then leave it up to the Supreme.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Stoicism

Post  Achrelus on Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:20 am

Something has just occured to me concerning preference, but I would like a second opinion. It would see to me a distinction between want/desire and preference. For simplicity's sake, I will stick with the prior analogy. From what I gather, preference can express desire so long as it iss logical and reasonable desire. So, I am preented with a menue. Every item on the menue will sustain me equally. But, one item on the menue is a food I don't particularly see often. Therefore, it is sensible to choose that food, because the oppertunity doesn't arise often. Likewise, because that still has a desirous, though logical, ring to it, just say I take price into account. One food is cheaper than another, so logically it would benefit mme more to choose that one because it allowss me more money, which today is necessary for attaining necessities. Either case, from how I am currently seeing it, preference is neither virtue nor vice in and of itself, but has the potential to be either one depending on how it is used. Is there any fallicy or misconception in that assertion?
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Re: Stoicism

Post  Erodius on Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:41 am

But, one item on the menue is a food I don't particularly see often. Therefore, it is sensible to choose that food, because the oppertunity doesn't arise often.

I wouldn't say that it is 'sensible.' Curiosity is neither virtuous nor vicious — it's neutral.

One food is cheaper than another, so logically it would benefit me more to choose that one because it allowss me more money, which today is necessary for attaining necessities.

It would be a rational choice, certainly. But making a choice with the purpose of saving money is certainly not virtuous. It is not necessarily a major vice; certainly it's possible for viciogenic choices to be only very small ones. And, as I said, it is recognized that, so long as you have a body, you will sin occasionally — that much is unavoidable. You will, and you have to.

Either case, from how I am currently seeing it, preference is neither virtue nor vice in and of itself, but has the potential to be either one depending on how it is used.

Yes, indeed. Like I mentioned a while earlier, the difference between virtue and vice is their focus and origin. Personal preference/choice/motive aligned perfectly to the Absolute is pure Virtue, other measures of alignment would constitute degrees of Virtue. Vice is simply personal preference/choice/motive that is arisen from and focused on the illusory self.

Via free will, it is absolutely possible to prefer Virtue or Vice. However, I would simply do away with 'preference,' because preference for Virtue is simply what-have-you degree of Virtue, and vice versa.

But yes, I understand the basic premise of your question to be one of whether the free will can choose one or the other, and that you are calling that choice 'preference.' In this setup, absolutely, preference can go either way.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Stoicism

Post  Achrelus on Fri Jul 12, 2013 12:09 pm

I did not mean so sound as though I supposed saving oney to be virtuous, really at best it is neutral a I meant to aume that it was to later be used as a means to attain other necessities. I did not mean to convey that the oney was saved purely to have more, that is greed and I certainly agree that is a vice. And also, when looking at any preference or choice how does one decide (in cases not so obvious) whether said preference or choice is viceful virtuous or neither one in any degree? I mean, surely that can't be subjective because then it would be individualistic and not realy a philosophy. How should one gauge it?
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Re: Stoicism

Post  Erodius on Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:53 pm

And also, when looking at any preference or choice how does one decide (in cases not so obvious) whether said preference or choice is viceful virtuous or neither one in any degree? I mean, surely that can't be subjective because then it would be individualistic and not realy a philosophy. How should one gauge it?

Absolutely right. It cannot, truly, be subjective. Virtue=Truth=Right. Subjective gauging might perhaps lead to the Right choice, but if it does, it ceases being subjective — it is simply True, and if it does not, the consequence is either neutral, with no progression made, or negative, if the end choice is one of vice.

The Absolute is the fountain and source of all Virtue, which is identical with Divine Law [Νόμος] — personified as the father of Justice [Δίκη], Law himself being, as we say, the attendant of the throne of God.

It is the Sages, the Shepherds/Oxherds sent by the Absolute, who unfurl the framework of Law and translate it into speech for the race of humanity. This is the skeleton, the Things Heard, and the first pillar of religion. But simply hearing and internalizing the discourse of the Oxherds is insufficient to live Virtue fully. The Things Heard are a seed and preparation for the cultivation of Virtue, but you must yourself encourage the seed to flourish. Further, the individual must seek God, for righteous seeking will be recognized and rewarded by the imparting of Virtue. This is the second pillar, Worship. Further, one must seek to internalize and comprehend the union of Things Heard with the gifts of Virtue received from righteous Worship, this is the third pillar, Pursuit of Wisdom/Philosophy. These three together constitute the recipe for Virtue, which is, itself, the fourth pillar, and the completion of religion.

Thus is how Virtue is attained — and under the governance of Virtue, choices made will be virtuous by necessary extension. That is how one gauges.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Stoicism

Post  Achrelus on Sat Jul 13, 2013 10:06 am

In stoicism they talk about living "in accord with nature." What is it talking about here?
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Re: Stoicism

Post  Erodius on Sat Jul 13, 2013 10:38 am

For Stoics, aligning the personal volition with the natural reason / right order of things (Λόγος) is the source of a virtuous life, and a virtuous life, they believe, much as Orphics do, is freedom from suffering and badness. It is much more than simple 'going with the flow.'

Because of the way they organize their cosmology, Stoicism has been sometimes said to be fatalistic/predeterministic in an almost Calvinist way.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Stoicism

Post  Achrelus on Sat Jul 13, 2013 10:55 am

This is unfortunate for me. I have agreed so far with everything I read, but I don't believe in predeterminism or fate. I still intend to learn to live and act in a stoic manner but I cannot seem to find a philosophy that 100% fits the fundiental things I won't adjust in my beliefs. Those things are very few but fate and deterinism is one of them. The only thing fated is death and even that is variable.
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Re: Stoicism

Post  Erodius on Sat Jul 13, 2013 1:07 pm

Αχρηλος wrote:This is unfortunate for me. I have agreed so far with everything I read, but I don't believe in predeterminism or fate. I still intend to learn to live and act in a stoic manner but I cannot seem to find a philosophy that 100% fits the fundiental things I won't adjust in my beliefs. Those things are very few but fate and deterinism is one of them. The only thing fated is death and even that is variable.

That may present a problem, because the concept of Fate is one of the most central and ubiquitous concepts throughout Classical religion, and as religion progressed, it only grew in importance.

Stoicism is a Hellenistic-era philosophy, and its idea of Fate is very Hellenistic. In the Hellenistic era and beyond, Fate (typically called 'Fortune' (Τύχη) or 'Eimarmenē' (Ειμαρμένη), as a single force, rather than the pre-Hellenistic 'Fates' (Μοίραι), who, in the Hellenistic period and forward, are identified usually with the Furies. The cult of Fortune becomes huge in the Hellenistic era, probably among the most popular cults, and Fortune had many, many temples, and many cities dedicated to her. In imagery, she is usually sculpted as a robed woman holding a cornucopia and a chain, wearing a crown on her head shaped like the walls and turrets of a city. Fortune's most common epithets were 'Unstable', 'Capricious', 'Random' and other related concepts, and she comes to be strongly identified with the Moon, which, with its changing shape, color, and path, and its evident influence over the growing seasons that provided people with either abundance or famine, was seen, in the Romano-Hellenistic world, as the eye/face of Fortune. It is not so much the idea that Fortune has everything predetermined, but it is the idea that the things that transpire naturally upon the earth are ultimately derived from the decree of Fortune. Because Fortune likewise, for obvious reasons, comes to be recognized as potentially hostile, and to be considered to rule over the mortal sphere (the world of death), Fortune/Moon also comes to be called 'Gorgon', and sometimes even Persephonē or Diana/Artemis.

In this case, although both Stoics and the faithful of the Orphic religion recognize Virtue as the key to the deliverance from suffering and death, the subtle, but essential difference between the two, in this case, is that Stoicism is more thoroughly monistic, while Orphism leans more toward dualism. As I understand, Stoics see Virtue and deliverance from the Gorgon as an act of recognizing the underlying order (Logos) and unity of the world, and, essentially, not fighting against the Gorgon. As the Stoic Epictetus phrases it, "[the Stoic is] ill and yet content, in danger yet content, dying yet content, exiled yet content, disgraced and yet content." However, it should be remembered that Stoicism, while not inherently atheistic, is not specifically a religion.

Orphism, in contrast, sees essentially the same issue with worldly living, but deals with it differently. Orphism is a theistic religion, and asserts a real and crucial existence of God (who contains various persons/hypostases). Orpheus taught that only the Supreme Intelligence/highest person of God (called usually: Iupiter/Ζεύς), is more powerful than Fate. This is where I see a difference between us and the Stoics. Stoics, as I understand, see the world/nature/fate as, essentially, the supreme being, and attribute suffering to an impossible struggle to go against it, whereas we recognize one power with the ability to nullify fate.

Stoic salvation, as I see it, constitutes resignation to the dominion of nature/fate/world, and freedom from suffering through not trying to futilely fight against something un-fightable. For Orphics, salvation constitutes deliverance from the shackles of Gorgon entirely, through the intercession of Divinity.

It's really fascinating; almost all religio-philosophical movements of the Hellenistic world are rooted in a similar drive to solve the problems of Fate and the suffering of worldly existence (interestingly, much the same ideas were circulating through India at roughly the same time in history, where they gave birth to Jainism, Buddhism, and the moksha-focused forms of Hinduism). The differences are in the instructions they give insofar as to how one goes about doing that. Nevertheless, even still, the similarities among Romano-Hellenistic religions are generally most numerous, with the differences often consisting of finer details, or even simply the accoutrements of the origin of the particular movement.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Stoicism

Post  Achrelus on Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:52 pm

I recently found what seems to be a contradiction. In reading Epictetus, it says that we have complete control over our will to attain things. It also says we can not attain for ourselves that which is beyond what the "Playwright" (analogous for the divine) assigns us. Why would the will for something be so stressed of a point if in fact that will is to no end other than itself.

Perhaps in some clarification I will learn I have misunderstood. As it stands, that I how I read it.
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Re: Stoicism

Post  Erodius on Sun Jul 28, 2013 6:44 pm

I have heard of criticisms directed at Stoic reasoning, both now and from millennia ago, that there are points of the Stoic system that are evidently mutually-contradictory — one of which is precisely this issue, that the Stoic system as read in Epictetus seems to affirm the considerable importance of free-will in some places, while simultaneously seeming to imply, in other places, that there is no free will in the first place.

From what I understand and have been taught, this evident paradox is reconciled, in the typical Hellenistic-era fashion, by dividing reality into multiple ontological levels. As such, at the ultimate scale, the Stoic ideology would say that all things are completely predetermined because there is really only one 'thing' in existence, but at the individual's scale, there is an apparent free will, made visible by the choices one makes in the acts of living and existing. Nonetheless, this free will could not, obviously, go contrary to the Whole, because there is naught but the Whole.

Again, it is similar in some ways to Calvinist Protestantism — free will does exist, sort of, insofar as one can obviously make choices in life, however, God knows what choices will be made even before they are made.

Such is how it has been explained to me — but I am, admittedly, not an adherent of Stoicism, and it is not a major feature of my academic studies as a Classicist either (my concentration is in Hellenistic and Roman Mystery religions). I'm better informed in Stoicism than your average person, so to speak, but by no means an expert.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Stoicism

Post  jadborn on Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:51 pm

In general the way I understand it (the Free Will vs. Fate dilemma, and this may or may not be in line with the correct stoic view), is this: Yes we do have the ability to make free choices in our lives, however this is limited by our past choices and the past circumstances surrounding the action. That's simple enough. But furthermore, I posit that given the circumstances and history surrounding a choice, that the choice that is made is inevitable, in other words, Fate.

Consider an individual with a fair history of stealing in a position to easily take a small amount of money. The individual considers whether or not they are in need of money, whether or not they have enough food to eat, etc. In the instance that they are in need of food, also considering risk of being caught, they take the money. If the stealing-inclined individual had been better off with money, they most likely wouldn't have stolen it, or if the individual had never stolen anything before- the same. Each circumstance leads from the last to the next.

I hope that follows... Smile 
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Re: Stoicism

Post  Erodius on Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:15 pm

jadborn wrote:In general the way I understand it (the Free Will vs. Fate dilemma, and this may or may not be in line with the correct stoic view), is this: Yes we do have the ability to make free choices in our lives, however this is limited by our past choices and the past circumstances surrounding the action. That's simple enough. But furthermore, I posit that given the circumstances and history surrounding a choice, that the choice that is made is inevitable, in other words, Fate.

Consider an individual with a fair history of stealing in a position to easily take a small amount of money. The individual considers whether or not they are in need of money, whether or not they have enough food to eat, etc. In the instance that they are in need of food, also considering risk of being caught, they take the money. If the stealing-inclined individual had been better off with money, they most likely wouldn't have stolen it, or if the individual had never stolen anything before- the same. Each circumstance leads from the last to the next.

I hope that follows... Smile 

I would say that's splendidly put. Wink 

And I agree completely. Free will exists, but only in the way a mirage exists. I imagine just about anyone's first gut instinct would be to say that 'of course one makes choices in the course of life' and, as anyone hears so often in memoirs and 'if-only' stories, that 'of course I could have made a different choice/taken a different route in life//'I could've made a different choice and been famous/rich(er)/happier etc.' But I would concur that, in reality, no, you actually could not have made a different choice, given the same frame circumstances and precedents. The vast array of precedents, previous experiences, and frame situation/setting circumstances entirely determine what course of action anyone takes in any situation. For a different course to have been taken, the frame circumstances and precedent occurrences would have to have been different, if only slightly.

Right now, for instance, I could choose either to go get coffee, or not to go get coffee. At first glance, it seems like a simple choice, based on random, spur-of-the-moment choice. But actually, I would argue, I really do not have any choice at all. Whether or not I go is determined by a variety of factors: the thoughts going through my mind, whether or not I want coffee, whether or not I have money, if I want to spend it on coffee, all of which are likewise determined by a chain of previous factors leading ad infinitum all the way to the genesis of the universe itself.

Thus, as I believe I mentioned earlier in this thread, the Stoic conception of the salvation of the soul is something of an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" system, where Fate is considered to be entirely irresistible, and as such, deliverance of the soul from the sufferings of Fate consists, paradoxically, of calm and resigned submission to it. This is one of the major points of divergence between Stoicism and Orpheo-Pythagoreanism/Platonism.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Stoicism

Post  Achrelus on Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:07 pm

When you put it like that, Fate being a system of cause and effect in which the past necessarily influinces the future, it makes a lot more sense.
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