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Re: [stoics] General Causal Determinism (was Re: Article: Impulse Stopping)

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  • Robin Turner
    ... It is true that much talk of virtue and vice is a moralising net of stuff and nonsense, but I don t think that charge applies when we use those words
    Message 1 of 55 , Oct 1, 2007
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      On 30/09/2007, peter <phrygianslave@...> wrote:

      Steve wrote:

       

      "I just ate too much pizza.  This was not a virtuous choice.  It violated the virtues of moderation, courage, and wisdom."

       

      So why did you do it, then?

       

      "A rational person would feed himself with what is appropriate for his health.  Even if we allow for socializing etc once in a while the overeating that is very typical, of which I participate in from time to time, is against my nature."

       

      Why do it, then?

       

      I'll tell you why: you do it because you cannot help yourself, because that is your nature. You do it because you want to do it, and for no other reason. And so long as there is nobody to stop you you will continue doing it. For really you have no control over yourself: that is your true nature.

       

      And all the other talk about virtue and vice is little more than a moralising net of stuff and nonsense that we cast into the sea of life in a vain attempt at ensnaring fragments of the protean flux.


      It is true that much talk of virtue and vice is "a moralising net of stuff and nonsense," but I don't think that charge applies when we use those words with their Stoic definitions. In general, in the classical world, virtue or arete means simply "excellence" or "doing something well", and vice is naturally its opposite, doing things badly. The Stoic view is simply a refinement of this, limiting it to its cognitive component and ignoring external factors. Steve, by his own admission, did badly in eating too much pizza, in much the same way that a musician might say he did badly by playing out of tune (the only difference being that the latter involves indifferents, not choice between indifferents).

      As for doing things because we want to, of course this is why we do things. However, we have different, competing wants, and different levels of wants. In particular, we have what is called "secondary desire", i.e. wanting to want things. Steve wants to eat  the pizza, but he may not want to want to eat the pizza. If your primary and secondary desires are in conflict, then you have a problem.

      Robin

      --
      Robin Turner
      IDMYO
      Bilkent Üniversitesi
      Ankara, Turkey

      http://www.bilkent.edu.tr/~robin
      http://solri.livejournal.com
    • Daniel Strain
      ... going to eat too much pizza...
      Message 55 of 55 , Oct 3, 2007
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        --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, "gich2" <gich2@...> wrote:
        > Steve: "No, I did not make a conscious decision beforehand 'I'm
        going to eat too much pizza..."<<<
        >
        > So you can't say you assented to a false impression; nor can you say
        that of your wife.
        ------------------------------

        As I understand it, assenting to a false impression is not always a
        conscious decision, perhaps not even most of the time. But part of the
        task of stoic practice is taking these judgments which are often made
        unconsciously, and building a habit of bringing them into our
        consciousness - similar to the concept of mindfulness.

        Sincerely,
        Daniel
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