Tag Archives: Ethics

Stoic Serenity 5.10: Thought Experiment 2

Well hello again. I’m going through a rough patch right now, which motivated me to re-read through the Stoic Serenity lessons here on the blog, which in turn motivated me to continue with the chapters in the book. So a year later, I’m picking up exactly where I left off: Cicero’s second thought experiment: Read more of this post

Stoic Serenity 5.9: Thought Experiment 1

Cicero, Cicero, CICERO! (sing to the tune of “The Barber of Seville,” anyone?)

After learning about the Stoic principles for living in society, today we get to test ourselves in a thought experiment!

The Roman philosopher, politician, and wearer of many more hats, Marcus Tullius Cicero, (106-43 BC; placing him somewhere on the timeline between founder Zeno of Citium and good ol’ Seneca; read about Cicero here), wrote a book called On DutiesIn it, Cicero pointed out that sometimes cases arise in which humans weigh convenience against honor. Thus here is his thought experiment: Read more of this post

Stoic Serenity 5.8: Philosophy’s Noble Purpose

Finally, a breath of fresh, living air! Seneca’s Letter 48 today, “On Quibbling as Unworthy of the Philosopher,” resonates beautifully. The first three paragraphs were a bit of a roller coaster, but hang in there. It’s worth it: Read more of this post

Stoic Serenity 5.5.4: Epictetus’ Revolutionary Idea

Yesterday we ended with Marcus’ “Ten Commandments” for dealing with difficult people. In short, he wrote that we should respond to difficult people with kindness, including gently correcting them. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. If we admonish people with hatred or spite in our own hearts, we’re being hypocritical: we’d be telling them to stop acting on their own anger while we ourselves are speaking out of anger.
  2. No one likes to be reproached anyway. Most people won’t even take kindly to constructive criticism. But there’s a much better chance at them accepting constructive criticism if it is presented out of kindness rather than out of spite.

Read more of this post

Stoic Serenity 5.5.3: Marcus’ Ten Commandments

No, this is not a picture of me smuggling my guinea pigs. I only have three. That keeps me clear away from being a weird guinea pig lady, right?

Here’s the deal. Today, my apartment complex is replacing air filters, checking smoke detector batteries, etc. And a potential tenant is coming to look at my apartment this afternoon. The problem? I have guinea pigs. Haha. Usually “maintenance day” isn’t a problem, but since someone is also coming to see my apartment to possibly rent, I couldn’t hide the pigs securely. So I spent yesterday evening disassembling their cage, and I got up this morning at 5:00 to smuggle the pigs into my car under the cover of darkness. Is it going against Virtue to smuggle guinea pigs in and out of your apartment? Probably. Oh well, this is one thing Stoicism isn’t touching. 😀 So since I”m taking the pigs for a “field trip” around town today (this is what happens when you’re waiting for your first day at your new job.—Oh by the way, I got a job 🙂  )—so since we are on a field trip today, I’m currently at a coffee shop with a backpack full of books (story of my life since I was 3). But the catch is that I only have Gregory Hays’ “A New Translation” of the Meditations with me on my Kindle. I’m not a huge fan of this translation. It’s a bit too cryptic and mysterious for me. It sounds like Zen Buddhist writings, which is fine, but it’s very different from the more literal translations. So if you’re reading this post and wondering why Marcus seems to have a personality disorder today, that’s why. Read more of this post

Stoic Serenity 5.5.2: Showing Kindness

How should we respond to people who wrong us? We’ve already discussed what we should remember, or process cognitively. But what should we actually do? In this short lesson, Marcus provides two simple options that we should act upon as Virtuous characters, and he reminds us why humans are even capable of kindness in the first place.

The human race is a family.

Human beings have come into the world for the sake of one another. So either instruct them or endure them patiently.

(Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 8.59)

Read more of this post

Stoic Serenity 5.5.1: Citizens of the World

Does someone despise me? That is his own problem. My only concern should be this: that I will never be found doing or saying something that is despicable. Does someone hate me? That is his own problem. But I will be kind and good-natured to everyone, including this person who hates me. For I must be ready to show him the nature of his error. Not in a critical spirit, of course, nor as if I were making a display of my own tolerance and self-control, but sincerely and kindheartedly, like the great politician Phocion, whose last words were instructions to his son to not hold a grudge against the Athenians for executing him. That’s how we should be within our own hearts, and present ourselves to God as someone who is neither ready to become angry nor complain. As long as you do what’s appropriate to your own nature, and accept what the Universal nature has in store—as long as you work, by one means or another, for the common benefit to be brought to fruition—what can harm you?

(Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 11.13)


Indifferent vs. Ignoring

In this final Meditation from yesterday’s lesson, Marcus pointed out that we should be “kind and good-natured to everyone, including this person who hates me. [And we] must be ready to show him the nature of his error.”

“Show him the nature of his error?” But I thought Stoics were supposed to be indifferent to other people’s bad behavior.

Yes, that’s true. But I venture to say that there is a difference between being indifferent and ignoring someone’s bad behavior. Read more of this post

Stoic Serenity 5.4: Equanimity

My apologies if this post ends up littered with mistakes… After wishing for sleep for the past four hours, I’ve decided to acknowledge that “the obstacle is the way” and utilize this time at 4:00 am to get back to the Stoicism studies, instead of becoming angry at the chronic pain that breeds insomnia. Chronic physical pain isn’t in my control anyway, right? So I’ll do what’s actually in my control and aim to publish this blog post. 🙂 Let’s see what we have scheduled for today…. Ah, a lesson regarding “The Equanimity of the Wise Person.”

equanimity – mental composure; “keeping your cool”

Read more of this post

Stoic Serenity 5.3.2: Love Your Neighbor / Stoic Forgiveness Exercise

If you didn’t read the previous post (short) about why we should love those who wrong us, you absolutely must.

If you want to read the Christian application, then you need to start with the
previous post, then read through this one.

If you don't want to read the Christian application, then you need to start with
the previous post and then skip down to the section in this post titled
"Grudges".

Today’s lesson in Stoic Serenity about accepting others who wrong us struck something in me. I was cooking lunch and thinking how Marcus gave such a simple but compelling reason about why we should love those who wrong us: because they simply don’t know any betterGoodness, if I think of it this way, then it really seems much easier to let go of the troubles caused by even my “worst enemies.” Read more of this post

Stoic Serenity 5.3: Accepting Others

A short lesson today on dealing with wrongdoers, based once more on a couple of Marcus’ Meditations:

It’s madness to pursue the impossible;
It’s impossible that people of bad character would not behave such as this.

(Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 5.17)

Other people are simply pursuing what they believe to be best. They do what they do because they think it is the best action to take. We need to learn to accept this, and therefore remain calm and unbothered when we are the target of actions of “people of bad character.” Read more of this post

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