Tag Archives: desire

The Discipline of Desire: Quit Counting on Telekinesis

Today we venture into the three fields of Stoic study, or topoi.

There are three areas of study in which a student of philosophy must be trained. The first is desire and aversion, so that the student will always obtain what he desires and will never fall into what he would prefer to avoid. The second is the impulse to act and not to act, and general appropriate behavior; so that the student may act in an orderly manner after careful thought, and not carelessly. The third is concerned with freedom from deception and hasty judgement, and in general, whatever is related to assent.

(Epictetus, Discourses 3.2)

  1. Desire (and aversion) – so we can always get what we want and avoid what we don’t want
  2. Impulse to Act (and not act) – so we can behave appropriately after thinking through the situation carefully
  3. Accurate judgement (and deception) – so we can learn what things we should give our assent to

The Stoics saw these fields as necessary in order to create and life a happy life. Let’s take a look at what each field is exactly. In an effort to avoid a lengthy post, we’ll break each area up separately, starting with Desire.

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