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RE: [stoics] Re: Stoics are...

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  • Steve
    Gich writes: ____________ My post says nothing about Sagedom, Steve. The post is solely concerned with reaching Stoic eudaimonia. _____________ Synonymous
    Message 1 of 24 , Feb 1, 2009
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      Gich writes:

      ____________

       

      My post says nothing about Sagedom, Steve.
      The post is solely concerned with reaching Stoic eudaimonia.

      _____________

       

      Synonymous terms.  Eudaimonia occurs when one is virtuous.  Being a Sage _is_ someone who is virtuous.  Whether you say a Sage is impossible as you have in the past or reaching Stoic eudaimonia is impossible as you claim now you are stating that the Stoic end is not actually achievable.

       

      My ‘fairly’ certain was toned down to allow you the one out of intuition.  A third party can never be certain about that.  By any other means you statement is false.

       

      Live well,

      Steve

    • eriugena47
      ... acquisition of virtue is also an education of the emotions. We should not rid ourselves of fear, anger, resentment or whatever. We should train ourselves
      Message 2 of 24 , Feb 1, 2009
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        --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, "gich2" <gich2@...> wrote:
        >
        > "Since virtues are dispositions to act from a certain motive, the
        acquisition of virtue is also an education of the emotions. We should
        not rid ourselves of fear, anger, resentment or whatever. We should
        train ourselves to feel the right amount of anger, towards the right
        person, on the right occasion, and for the right reason." [Scruton (on
        Aristotle), Modern Philosophy â€" An Introduction and Survey]

        This is one of the commonest errors. Seneca explains the problem this
        way:

        "In the first place, it is easier to exclude harmful passions than to
        rule them, and to deny them admittance than, after they have been
        admitted, to control them; for when they have established themselves
        in possession, they are stronger than their ruler and do not permit
        themselves to be restrained or reduced."

        Or, to put it more simply:

        "the passions are as bad subordinates as they are leaders."

        http://www.molloy.edu/sophia/seneca/anger.htm
      • jan.garrett
        Right about the first point, Fred, if it is suitably qualified. The premise in the second sentence doesn t fit Aristotle s view very well. Contemplative
        Message 3 of 24 , Feb 1, 2009
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          Right about the first point, Fred, if it is suitably qualified.
           
          The premise in the second sentence doesn't fit Aristotle's view very well. Contemplative activity or theoria (as Aristotle understands it) especially involves thinking about what one KNOWS in a very special sense of "know." This sort of knowledge is episteme, which is knowledge of universals, i.e., general truths that match up to the general structure of reality.  Euclidean geometry is an example of episteme that the classical Greeks were familiar with. Aristotle seems also to have thought that astronomy was capable of being known by way of episteme (think of astronomy as a mathematical science of solid objects in regular motion).
           
          Theoria is a self-contained activity; we do not contemplate in  order to achieve anything except contemplation--in this way it is unlike social/moral/political action. Inquiry  related to knowledge and contemplation is a process aiming at truth.
           
          Inquiry concerning what should be done is deliberation. Its results, according to Aristotle, lack the stability of the results of theoretical inquiry.  "Contemplation" of moral conclusions is also less pleasant than contemplation of truth.
           
          "Good" has multiple meanings, according to Aristotle, not all of them central to philosophy. But discussion of the good comes up chiefly in the ethical writings, where "the good" is the name for the human end or happiness. Other things, such as good character, can be considered good in so far as it contributes to that.  
           
          Wise theoretical activity is good according to Aristotle because it lies at the heart of the best form of happiness, as explained in Nic. Eth. X. It is also, he claims, the human activity most similar to the activity of the gods. (Of course, relatively few humans will have enough episteme to do much contemplating in the Aristotelian sense.)
           
           
           
          ----- Original Message -----
          Sent: Saturday, January 31, 2009 9:21 PM
          Subject: [stoics] Re: Stoics are...

          According to Aristotle, the highest form of happiness is contemplation.
          Since contemplation involves thinking about the good and the bad,
          would we not be happier just thinking about the good?

          fred

          --- In stoics@yahoogroups. com, "jan.garrett" <jan.garrett@ ...> wrote:
          >
          > On my reading, the unity of the virtues doctrine in Aristotle applies to the moral virtues
          and the intellectual virtue of practical wisdom. Eudaimonia of the morally and politically
          active life requires that, but Aristotle recognizes another sort of eudaimonia, based on
          sophia (philosophical or theoretical wisdom) which includes knowledge and nous (grasp of
          the first principles of knowledge). Those who have it have a type of happiness analogous
          to that of the gods. For this distinction, see Nicomachean Ethics book X.
          >
          > ----- Original Message -----
          > From: Grant Sterling
          > To: stoics@yahoogroups. com
          > Sent: Saturday, January 31, 2009 4:35 PM
          > Subject: Re: [stoics] Re: Stoics are...
          >
          >
          > > Gich
          > > [a happy Aristotelian sage! :)) ]
          >
          > Actually, Gich, there are passage in Aristotle
          > that suggest he would insist on the "unity of
          > the virtues", meaning that you cannot have one
          > virtue unless you have all of them. By the same
          > token, eudaimonia for A. requires the possession
          > of the virtues (not merely doing one or several
          > virtuous things) in a "complete life", not just
          > a short period of time.
          > In other words...it's not at all clear that
          > attaining eudaimonia is significantly easier
          > for A. than for the Stoics.
          >
          > Regards,
          > Grant
          >

        • rick.bamford
          Gich writes: However, although all Stoic students are trying to make progress towards virtue and eudaimonia; it s nevertheless the case that, in classical
          Message 4 of 24 , Feb 1, 2009
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            Gich writes: "However, although all Stoic students are trying to
            make 'progress' towards virtue and eudaimonia; it's nevertheless the
            case that, in classical Stoicism, no mortal person ever gets there!"

            Has anyone here ever seen the 1993 film "Fearless" starring Jeff
            Bridges? A quick synopsis is that Bridge's character is (nearly) the
            sole survivor of a horrific plane crash and as a result loses all fear
            of everything. As a result, he becomes totally honest in everything
            he says and does, since he no longer fears embarrassing himself or
            others. Is this perhaps a close approximation of a Stoic sage?

            -R
          • Grant Sterling
            ... True, but A. thinks that, since humans are essentially social creatures, no human being can live a life of constant contemplation. (We also need sleep,
            Message 5 of 24 , Feb 1, 2009
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              ----- jan.garrett <jan.garrett@...> wrote:
              > On my reading, the unity of the virtues doctrine in Aristotle applies to the moral virtues and the intellectual virtue of practical wisdom. Eudaimonia of the morally and politically active life requires that, but Aristotle recognizes another sort of eudaimonia, based on sophia (philosophical or theoretical wisdom) which includes knowledge and nous (grasp of the first principles of knowledge). Those who have it have a type of happiness analogous to that of the gods. For this distinction, see Nicomachean Ethics book X.

              True, but A. thinks that, since humans are essentially
              social creatures, no human being can live a life of
              constant contemplation. (We also need sleep, etc.,
              and so cannot contemplate at all times for that reason,
              but that's not important here.)
              What this means is that even the philosopher, who seeks
              the life of contemplation, will be repeatedly placed in
              situations where he must respond to others in ways that
              require him to exercise the moral virtues. A. nowhere
              suggests, and I think by implication clearly rejects,
              the idea that we could truly have eudaimonia based on
              intellectual contemplation _without_ having the moral
              virtues.
              To make things even more complicated, to truly flourish
              for an Aristotelian requires external goods also, and so
              complete happiness for A. requires _more_ than for the
              Stoics!

              Regards,
              Grant
            • Grant Sterling
              ... So can I. I think it is unlikely that anyone has actually _attained it_, though, at least in its pure form. ... Then you don t actually understand
              Message 6 of 24 , Feb 1, 2009
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                > Now I (Gich) can picture going through life trying to acquire 'appropriate dispositions' and so I can visualize the process by which one might 'progress' towards Aristotelian eudaimonia.

                So can I. I think it is unlikely that
                anyone has actually _attained it_, though,
                at least in its pure form.

                > I'm not so optimistic concerning Stoic eudaimonia, which requires the complete elimination of the emotions and also the ability to live an 'error free' life. I don't think the complete elimination of the emotions is a desirable aim and I don't know what an 'error free' life might be.

                Then you don't actually understand Aristotle,
                either, since complete eudaimonia for A. would
                also require an error-free life.
                While I understand your view that elimination
                of emotions is undesirable, I think it is obvious
                that _complete rational control of emotions_ is
                more difficult. So attaining Stoic eudaimonia
                would be _easier_ than for A.

                > "Since virtues are dispositions to act from a certain motive, the acquisition of virtue is also an education of the emotions. We should not rid ourselves of fear, anger, resentment or whatever. We should train ourselves to feel the right amount of anger, towards the right person, on the right occasion, and for the right reason." [Scruton (on Aristotle), Modern Philosophy — An Introduction and Survey]

                The Stoics at least explain how they think emotions can
                be controlled by reason. A. gives us no explanation, other
                than "keep practicing this and after a while you might be
                able to do it naturally".

                > "... Some neuroscientists think that emotional states, which appear to be subserved by neural mechanisms in certain areas of the brain, bias or 'colour' certain of our memories, experiences and thoughts by 'marking' them with degrees of urgency and calm, which have the effect of driving certain thoughts into our attention and pushing others away. Emotions may be the wheels of thought, allowing us to concentrate on important things without being swamped with too much ultimately irrelevant information. ..." [OU course, Minds and Mental Phenomena]

                And some other neuroscientists disagree. But even for these
                ns's, this is compatible with the idea that emotions are
                necessarily connected to value judgments, and that it is the
                value judgments that do the coloring. Since even the Stoic Sage
                makes value judgments, this problem is easily superseded.

                > Peace
                > Gich
                >
                > If I ask the question 'why do a?', then a justifying reason may be found, by showing that a is the means to b, and that b is something desired. But then 'why do you want b'. Again, if we

                This is a modern, post-Humean distortion of
                A's view. he would say that you justify it by
                showing that a is a means to b, and that b is _good_.

                relate b to something desired we answer the question. But does the series come to an end? Is there a 'final end'? Aristotle says 'yes'. The final end is happiness (eudaimonia), this is final in that it does not make sense to ask, 'why aim at happiness?' Happiness means the general condition of fulfilment or 'success'. It is absurd to ask why we should pursue it, since success or fulfilment is what every activity intends.

                Again, this isn't A's view. His view is that eudaimonia
                is the highest _good_.

                > The resulting morality differs in one striking respect from those of Kant, and of most modern philosophers. It does not lay down principles or laws. It says that the right thing to choose is the thing that the virtuous man would choose. But how he would choose depends on matters that a mere philosopher cannot foresee.

                No, that's not his point at all. His point is that
                moral reasoning is _complex_ in a way that mathematics
                is not, and so exceptionless rules simply wouldn't be
                _true_. Some dangers should be faced--some should be
                avoided. Sometimes we should indulge in pleasure,
                sometimes not. The problem is not that "mere" [????]
                philosophers can't foresee how the virtuous man
                would act, the problem is that in different situations
                the virtuous man will act in different ways. This
                is no different than what Bentham (or the Stoics)
                might say. Other than Kant (and that's a complex matter),
                very few philosophers, modern or otherwise, lay down
                principles or laws for morality.

                Regards,
                Grant
              • Grant Sterling
                ... In that respect, perhaps. Does he behave with perfect virtue and rationality? Regards, GCS
                Message 7 of 24 , Feb 1, 2009
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                  ----- rick.bamford <rick.bamford@...> wrote:
                  > Gich writes: "However, although all Stoic students are trying to
                  > make 'progress' towards virtue and eudaimonia; it's nevertheless the
                  > case that, in classical Stoicism, no mortal person ever gets there!"
                  >
                  > Has anyone here ever seen the 1993 film "Fearless" starring Jeff
                  > Bridges? A quick synopsis is that Bridge's character is (nearly) the
                  > sole survivor of a horrific plane crash and as a result loses all fear
                  > of everything. As a result, he becomes totally honest in everything
                  > he says and does, since he no longer fears embarrassing himself or
                  > others. Is this perhaps a close approximation of a Stoic sage?
                  >
                  > -R

                  In that respect, perhaps. Does he behave with perfect
                  virtue and rationality?

                  Regards,
                  GCS
                • kevin11_c
                  ... potentiality, although it presupposes our natural capacity for virtue or vice or in-between states. Nor is a disposition the same thing as activity, it is,
                  Message 8 of 24 , Feb 1, 2009
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                    Gich wrote:

                    > And on 'dispositions' the following from Jan Garrett (e-post) is
                    useful:
                    >
                    > "... A disposition is acquired by practice; it's not an inborn
                    potentiality, although it presupposes our natural capacity for virtue or
                    vice or in-between states. Nor is a disposition the same thing as
                    activity, it is, rather, the 'basis' on which we feel and choose, and
                    therefore act, when we do feel or choose (and act)."
                    >
                    > Now I (Gich) can picture going through life trying to acquire
                    'appropriate dispositions' and so I can visualize the process by which
                    one might 'progress' towards Aristotelian eudaimonia.
                    >
                    > I'm not so optimistic concerning Stoic eudaimonia, which requires the
                    complete elimination of the emotions and also the ability to live an
                    'error free' life. I don't think the complete elimination of the
                    emotions is a desirable aim and I don't know what an 'error free' life
                    might be.
                    >
                    > "Since virtues are dispositions to act from a certain motive, the
                    acquisition of virtue is also an education of the emotions. We should
                    not rid ourselves of fear, anger, resentment or whatever. We should
                    train ourselves to feel the right amount of anger, towards the right
                    person, on the right occasion, and for the right reason." [Scruton (on
                    Aristotle), Modern Philosophy â€" An Introduction and Survey]
                    >

                    Kevin:

                    Gich, if I may, the Stoics believed that Virtue was a disposition:

                    Seneca, Letters 113.2 (svf 3.307, part)

                    Virtue is nothing other than a mind disposed in a certain way.

                    Regards

                    Kevin
                  • Grant Sterling
                    ... There are significant differences between A. and the Stoics, but I m not sure that there are significant differences in this particular regard. A. thinks
                    Message 9 of 24 , Feb 2, 2009
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                      At 09:25 AM 2/2/2009, gich2 wrote:
                      >
                      > >>>Then you don't actually understand
                      > Aristotle, either, since complete eudaimonia
                      > for A. would also require an error-free life.<<<
                      >
                      >OK.
                      >
                      >But is an Aristotelian 'error free life' the
                      >_same thing_ as a Stoic 'error free life'?
                      >I thought there were significantly differences.

                      There are significant differences between A. and the Stoics, but I'm
                      not sure that there are significant differences in this particular regard. A.
                      thinks that there's a right or rational action (and feeling) for each and every
                      situation, and its not clear that this differs from the Stoic view. (He and
                      the Stoics disagree on _what_ feeling is rational in some situations, and
                      there might be cases where they disagree on the correct action {though
                      I don't know of any examples off the top of my head}, but with regards to
                      being error-free I see little difference.

                      >Peace
                      >Gich

                      Regards,
                      Grant
                    • rick.bamford
                      Grant said: In that respect, perhaps. Does he behave with perfect virtue and rationality? Can t say for sure. Many years since I ve seen it, so the details
                      Message 10 of 24 , Feb 2, 2009
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                        Grant said: "In that respect, perhaps. Does he behave with perfect
                        virtue and rationality?"

                        Can't say for sure. Many years since I've seen it, so the details
                        are foggy. Perhaps not, because I recall scenes in which he did
                        dangerous but unnecessary things, such as standing at the precipices
                        of skyscrapers, to demonstrate his fearlessness (mostly to himself,
                        I think). I suppose that is not rational. and if I recall, he
                        offended family and friends with his brute honesty about his past
                        actions, and also about his feelings and opinions about people. I
                        suppose that would qualify as being tactless and rude, but not sure
                        if that is un-virtuous behavior. I guess a virtuous person would
                        never lie, but would be polite and withhold the truth if it did harm
                        but little or no good.

                        -R


                        --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, Grant Sterling <gcsterling@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > ----- rick.bamford <rick.bamford@...> wrote:
                        > > Gich writes: "However, although all Stoic students are trying to
                        > > make 'progress' towards virtue and eudaimonia; it's nevertheless
                        the
                        > > case that, in classical Stoicism, no mortal person ever gets
                        there!"
                        > >
                        > > Has anyone here ever seen the 1993 film "Fearless" starring Jeff
                        > > Bridges? A quick synopsis is that Bridge's character is
                        (nearly) the
                        > > sole survivor of a horrific plane crash and as a result loses
                        all fear
                        > > of everything. As a result, he becomes totally honest in
                        everything
                        > > he says and does, since he no longer fears embarrassing himself
                        or
                        > > others. Is this perhaps a close approximation of a Stoic sage?
                        > >
                        > > -R
                        >
                        > In that respect, perhaps. Does he behave with perfect
                        > virtue and rationality?
                        >
                        > Regards,
                        > GCS
                        >
                      • Grant Sterling
                        ... I don t understand your distinction. Please explain. ... Do you mean to suggest that A. holds that there is one and only one correct choice in any
                        Message 11 of 24 , Feb 3, 2009
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                          At 05:19 AM 2/3/2009, gich2 wrote:
                          > >>> A. thinks that there's a right or rational action (and feeling)
                          > for each and every situation, <<< [1]
                          >
                          >This sounds fine to me.
                          >I understand this as meaning 'the right choice' [of action] for the
                          >individual concerned at the time in question.
                          >
                          >But this says nothing about whether a particular choice is the (for
                          >certain) correct choice in each and every situation, which is the
                          >goal of classical Stoicism.

                          I don't understand your distinction. Please explain.

                          > >>> and its not clear that this differs from the Stoic view. (He
                          > and the Stoics disagree on _what_ feeling is rational in some
                          > situations, and there might be cases where they disagree on the
                          > correct action {though I don't know of any examples off the top of
                          > my head}, but with regards to being error-free I see little difference.<<<
                          >
                          >This is where I have difficulty. Statement [1] says nothing about
                          >whether a particular chosen action is the (for certain) correct thing to do.
                          >And as I understand the Stoic version of an 'error free life', it
                          >would require _always_ choosing the (for certain) correct thing to
                          >do in every conceivable situation that crops up in day-to-day life.

                          Do you mean to suggest that A. holds that there is one and only
                          one correct choice in any situation, and if we do not choose it we will
                          not be virtuous, and hence we will not be happy...but we can't know
                          for certain which choice that is? A. says very little about the cognitive
                          experience of the Aristotelian Sage (the person who fully possesses
                          all the moral virtues), so he doesn't discuss the matter of certainty,
                          but I suspect he would have affirmed it. {He discusses the uncertainity
                          of the person who doesn't yet possess virtue--that's the whole point of
                          the so often misunderstood "Doctrine of the Mean".}
                          But had he denied it, then he would produce a view on which
                          Eudaimonia is surely impossible. If I must get the choice right every
                          time, but I can never know which choice is the right one, then I am
                          surely doomed to get things wrong. Such a view would certainly not
                          be preferable to Stoicism, and certainly not a view on which Sagedom
                          makes more sense.

                          >I confess my knowledge of Aristotle is limited, but nothing I've
                          >read points to _this_ type of 'error free life' as being a part of
                          >his philosophy.
                          >
                          >Peace
                          >Gich
                          >[short of time]

                          Regards,
                          Grant
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