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Re: Interdependence

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  • Steve Marquis
    Jan wrote: __________________ Without what Steve calls goals or ends (requiring a certain degree of attachment to projects of the sort that others are engaged
    Message 1 of 5 , Jan 1, 2003
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      Jan wrote:
      __________________

      Without what Steve calls goals or ends (requiring a certain degree of
      attachment to projects of the sort that others are engaged in), Stoics
      would not be engaged in the world at all. The important thing, I think, is
      that Stoics judge all these projects at a second level. This requires a
      continuous sort of monitoring of the first-level involvements that we share
      with others. Is this or that project or action of mine compatible with
      wisdom and virtue all things considered?
      __________________

      Jan, If I remember right you posted an essay way back at the beginning of
      this forum (2+ years ago) concerning paying attention and critical thinking
      in day-to-day living. That would fit nicely with what you are saying here,
      but I can't find it.

      I certainly agree with Daniel that a major part of our task is habit
      control. Virtue is habituated through practice, and character is the
      summation of our habits, for good or ill.

      I still think the distinction between goals and process has value. Maybe
      replacing 'goals' with 'outcomes' will help. The Stoic distinction between
      virtue and indifferents is a difference in kind, not just importance. No
      amount of preferred indifferents equals even the smallest amount of virtue.
      Outcomes are indifferents, and giving them value in the same manner as
      others do would be a false judgement. This follows from the fact that no
      outcome is completely within our control, though things 'going our way' for
      a long time may seduce us into believing we are 'in control'. Complete
      detachment from outcome seems to me to be the classical Stoic position.

      The Stoic's commitment is to process. To an observer this would appear as
      'full' engagement in whatever activity the Stoic agent is undertaking, even
      to the point of (oh no;)) being labeled passionate. To an outside
      observer, a commitment to process or outcome is indistinguishable.

      One of my favorite illustrations is that of an artist who discards each
      painting as she finishes it. Her 'passion' is in the activity of painting,
      the product of the activity is trivial.

      Jan:
      ___________________

      In the classical philosophical literature, the term end (telos, finis) was
      understood broadly enough that it could include the actualized condition of
      the wise/virtuous/happy person.
      ___________________

      True. But this 'end' is an activity, not an outcome. Or, in other words,
      it is a verb, not a noun. Living is a verb. It is not possible to
      withdraw from life. Nor is it possible to be 'passive' in the strict
      sense. As long as we are alive we continue to make choices, which is the
      process of rational life. We can choose to go along with the cart
      (accepting our fate as rational beings), or we can be dragged (the false
      judgement that we can withdraw).

      My main purpose in raising this issue was to address the appearance that
      Stoicism is 'passive'. With accepting things as they are, detachment from
      externals, cultivating apatheia, and the assumption that all is good from
      the universal viewpoint, one could naïvely build a case that Stoics plainly
      intend to be detached from life. The question was raised on this forum not
      too long ago. I heard it again in the new Teaching Co course 'Practical
      Philosophy: The Greco-Roman Moralists'.

      The same criticism has been used against Taoism. A friend of a friend
      would argue for his lethargy and to continue his depression by appealing to
      wu wei, or 'no action'. He did not what to entertain other interpretations
      such as 'no (wasted) action', or, in a positive sense, 'efficient action'.
      I would argue that the layperson, full of passion and desensitized to the
      point of noticing only gross changes in her environment, would see both the
      Taoist and Stoic sage as passive and withdrawn. The effectiveness of both
      would go completely unnoticed. Assent to the appearance of passivity is
      within the perceivers power. The thing perceived is what it is, not what
      it appears to be based on false judgement.

      The Stoic's emotive energy is consciously directed into full engagement in
      whatever activity the agent is currently involved in. If the external
      situation changes, the agent redirects her energy. This 'full engagement'
      is duty. There is no try, half measures, resentment, or desiring to be
      elsewhere. The ability to redirect one's focus with grace can only be
      accomplished by seeing specific outcomes as indifferents. This harmony
      with reality requires that we be light on our feet. Our virtue is not
      dependent on any single outcome.

      A 'smooth flow of life' does say it well.

      Steve
    • Mr Geoffrey Howard
      ... this post reminded me of a Zen drawing tablet I saw for sale at some internet site. i m not sure how it is accomplished, but whatever is drawn fades away
      Message 2 of 5 , Jan 5, 2003
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        --- Steve Marquis <marquis@...> wrote:
        >
        > One of my favorite illustrations is that of an
        > artist who discards each
        > painting as she finishes it. Her 'passion' is in
        > the activity of painting,
        > the product of the activity is trivial.
        >

        this post reminded me of a Zen drawing tablet I saw
        for sale at some internet site.

        i'm not sure how it is accomplished, but whatever is
        drawn fades away after only a few minutes, so that the
        artist is truly left with only the process of drawing
        as a reward.

        pretty stoic, eh?

        =====
        Geoffrey Howard
        Asst. Professor of Theatre
        Missouri Valley College
        http://www.moval.edu
        Personal Homepage: http://www.geocities.com/howardgfh

        __________________________________________________
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