Thursday, May 26, 2016

More Correction of the Stoics

 This is a work in progress.  I finished the paper I told you fine folks about and may post it here at a later date.  It honestly isn't something I'm proud of though, and wrote it solely for class credit.  A class where a single paper was at-least half of our grade but we spent most of our time reading hundred page assignments for five point reading quizzes.  But the professor was nice so I guess that excuses everything.

Decided my philosophy is a synthesis of The Cynics and Hume with some Schopenhauer thrown in.  The Cynics are more hard core anyway.  And the Stoics focus a tad too much on the internal.  Enjoy.

Despite the wisdom contained in both the Cynics and the Stoics, of the two the Cynics are of greater pragmatism for they understand the causal nature of things.  The Stoics understand the power of the human will to affect or cause one’s state-of-mind, but do not give externalities their proper credit.  The Cynics acknowledge that unpleasant passions come about from valuing that which is lacking in value or is not good or true according to “Nature” or our own nature.  However, in X, Y entails reasons why one should not eat rich foods, and one of the reasons is that these foods must be shipped from around the world and such commerce creates suffering.  The realization of social factors in suffering makes us realize here a divide.  The Stoics would say to those working in disastrous conditions so others can eat fine meals, that any suffering that is brought about is from their own weakness of character or ignorance.  They fails to see the Universal Logos of God and for this they suffer.  But the Cynics ascribe the reasoning behind the suffering to the action or causation of things rather than solely the slaves’ or workers’ frame of mind.  Now, in some situations, what the Stoics claim is closer to the truth (suffering is created by one’s own judgements and impressions) and in other cases someone who focuses on externalities (like Marx or Bakunin) would be correct.
The wisdom of the Cynics is they understand both sides of the coin through their pragmatism and their dislike of the norms of society.  These impressions and values were forced unto others and whether they accept them is in some sense out of their control.  However, with help (or without help, though help certainly helps) one can (if so fated) remove themselves from the state of mind they had assumingly in agreement with the norms of their society and adopt different attitudes and values hopefully in agreement with “Nature” (or what is reasonable and true and not merely said so by society).
Humans are determined by their perceptions of value but also other things which are immune to “Stoic reasoning.”  Epictetus gives the example of a wife that harms her children to spite her husband.  If she could see proper reason, he argues, she would have no desire to do this.  What they fail to see is that provided by Spinoza and Hume, rather that reason is guided by the passions rather than the other way ‘round.  Though (despite what Spinoza says) reason has some efficacy depending on the individual and situation, ultimately the passions dominate the mind because the passions in a sense are that person at that particular moment while reason is merely a filter where there thoughts are guided through.  Reason can be at-times a strainer, removing the unwanted passions and leaving only the serene state of being at the bottom of the basin, but ultimately it is that state of being, that dispassionate state, that we become, not the reasoning that brought us to that state.  Also one could argue there would have to be some “passion” or motivation within our minds to bring us to use reason as a strainer.  Those who have no interest in listening to reason will not, and even if they are told the most valuable truth from the wisest man on this Earth, if they do not listen they will not hear and it will be like the sound of wind to them.
The Stoics believe that we suffer not from bad befalling us, but through having a bad will.  And even if this is in some sense true, since the will is connected to our lives (unless we are complete dualists) through causality we do suffer through what befalls us, for what befell us caused us to have a bad will, and since we do not have complete control over our thoughts and state of being (despite what the Stoics believe) we always suffer ultimately, yes, by having a bad mental state (for we are nothing but our minds and can only suffer “directly” in this way) but causally the source comes from without or outside us, and therefore this is the source of our misery and what we must direct our attention to.  There are situations in life where it is the external that deserves almost the entirety of our attention (political problems for example); there are situations where we must focus on our own mental constitution instead (in personal relations to others for example).  The difference being the source of the ill.  Tax cuts for corporations and raising taxes on the poor harms the citizenry.  It is not the citizenry that harms themselves.  However, over-valuing or having an incorrect perception about a friend can cause harm, so even if they betray you the majority of the pain is created by your own perception of them whether or not said perception was justified or not.

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