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35665An Argument for the Discipline of Desire

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  • Dave Kelly
    Feb 17, 2014
      Part of Grant's "Core Stoicism"

      Th 1) Everyone wants happiness.
      Th 2) If you want happiness, it would be irrational
      to accept incomplete or imperfect happiness
      if you could get complete [continual, uninterrupted]
      2*) Complete happiness is possible.

      Th 3) All human unhappiness is caused by having
      a desire or emotional commitment [I will henceforth
      say "desire" for simplicity] to some outcome,
      and then that outcome does not result.

      4) Ergo, if you desire something which is out
      of your control, you will be subject to possible
      unhappiness. If you desire many things out
      of your control, the possibility of complete happiness
      approaches zero.
      5) By 4, 2*, and Th2, desiring things out of your
      control is irrational [if it is possible to control your

      Th 6) The only things in our control are our
      beliefs and will, and anything entailed by our
      beliefs and will.
      Th 7) Desires are caused by beliefs (judgments)
      about good and evil. [You desire what you judge
      to be good, and desire to avoid what you judge to
      be evil.]
      8) Ergo, Desires are in our control.
      9) By 5 and 8, desiring things out of our control
      is irrational.

      Th 10) The only thing actually good is virtue, the
      only thing actually evil is vice.
      11) Ergo, since virtue and vice are types of acts
      of will, they are in our control.
      12) Ergo, things that are not in our control are
      never good or evil.
      13) [cf 9, above] Desiring things out of our control is
      irrational, since it involves false judgment.

      14) Ergo, if we value only virtue, we will both judge truly
      and be immune to all unhappiness.

      Best wishes,