6
   

External Events, Other People, and the Self

 
 
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 08:34 am
One of Epictetus' main prescriptions in his Enchiridion is the proper attitude towards external events. Epictetus writes that "When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude towards it; you can either accept it or resent it." He then goes on to explain why external events often cause discord in our lives arguing that "What frightens and dismays us is not the external events themselves, but the way in which we think about them. It is not things that disturb us, but our interpretation of the significance."

What this means is that in order that people can assess external events properly, we must have the proper attitude to do so. Otherwise, they open themselves up to unnecessary discord in their lives. Thus, individuals suffer more than they should, live less fulfilling lives, and reduce their potential for personal happiness.

Epictetus then goes on to command that it is time to "Stop scaring yourself with impetuous notions, with your reactive impressions of the way things are! Things and people are not what we wish them nor what they seem to be. They are what they are."

In other words, people have a right to be who they are, and no one can force them to change. The consequences they face are their own and a result of their choices and circumstances. And things in our lives are the same, resultants of our choices and circumstances. There is no point in wishing these things to be different because that just cannot be so.

  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 6 • Views: 2,393 • Replies: 14
No top replies

 
Jebediah
 
  2  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 08:39 am
My instinct would be that this is very good advice in general, but has exceptions to the rule.
salima
 
  2  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 08:40 am
absolutely-attitude is everything.
we can accept people as they are and not expect them to be what they are not, and at the same time we can behave towards them in constructive ways. it doesnt follow that we will tolerate abuse, which is one of the arguments i have heard in the past. it goes much deeper and takes a lot of analysis to really see the implications. and the proof is in putting it into practice.
0 Replies
 
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 08:55 am
@Jebediah,
Of course there are exceptions. This is where Kantian ethics becomes kind of strange, because of its attempt to eliminate exceptions. But of course, by looking to find the exceptions in order to discredit good advice fails to take notice of the good advice.

Exceptions to the rule often come into play with family, friends, and loved ones, but the argument can be made that these actually become a piece of the self, and to a point, their well-being is also one's own well-being. So in these cases, letting things and people be as they are still requires one's own interaction, otherwise, these relationships are terminated and the other no longer is a part of the self.
HexHammer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 08:55 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus wrote:
Things and people are not what we wish them nor what they seem to be. They are what they are."

In other words, people have a right to be who they are, and no one can force them to change. The consequences they face are their own and a result of their choices and circumstances. And things in our lives are the same, resultants of our choices and circumstances. There is no point in wishing these things to be different because that just cannot be so.
I must have ...eh not lived under a rock for a very long time.

That reality which I reside, there are laws against psycotic behaviour, such as violence, greed and selfness where they will commit fraud and scams. There are laws against molesting other humans ..and even laws against molesting animals.

We need laws, morals and ethics to change our selfish ways, because without these guide lines of life, we inflict immense harm on eachother.

..but maybe not in your reality, there people are behaving perfect, and does not need any regulative rules.
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 09:02 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus wrote:

Of course there are exceptions. This is where Kantian ethics becomes kind of strange, because of its attempt to eliminate exceptions. But of course, by looking to find the exceptions in order to discredit good advice fails to take notice of the good advice.


Yes, and yet people do that all the time, I don't get it.

Quote:
Exceptions to the rule often come into play with family, friends, and loved ones, but the argument can be made that these actually become a piece of the self, and to a point, their well-being is also one's own well-being. So in these cases, letting things and people be as they are still requires one's own interaction, otherwise, these relationships are terminated and the other no longer is a part of the self.


This makes an interesting contrast with the Donne quote that was being discussed in another thread ("No man is an island").
0 Replies
 
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 09:08 am
@HexHammer,
Thanks Hex for pointing that out. I actually deleted a line that addressed the idea of laws, but I thought that was such a given that it did not make the cut for the post. Next time, I will state the obvious to avoid any confusion.
0 Replies
 
GoshisDead
 
  2  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 10:04 am
I have always had a soft spot for the Stoics, my Dad, I swear quoted Seneca every other day. In a strange way stoicism in the fashion of the OP has made me a much happier person than I would otherwise be. Unlike a lot of philosophical traditions, it is not just a point of view or analysis of supposed truth, it advocates a manner of living life. The passivity of other school, even classical ones, in regards to practical life bettering application just doesn't appeal as much
0 Replies
 
Arjuna
 
  2  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 12:16 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus wrote:

One of Epictetus' main prescriptions in his Enchiridion is the proper attitude towards external events. Epictetus writes that "When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude towards it; you can either accept it or resent it." He then goes on to explain why external events often cause discord in our lives arguing that "What frightens and dismays us is not the external events themselves, but the way in which we think about them. It is not things that disturb us, but our interpretation of the significance."

What this means is that in order that people can assess external events properly, we must have the proper attitude to do so. Otherwise, they open themselves up to unnecessary discord in their lives. Thus, individuals suffer more than they should, live less fulfilling lives, and reduce their potential for personal happiness.
Like the woman who said her life was filled with disasters, most of which never happened.

Yea. There was a management education fad back in the 80's that centered on the teachings of a guy named Steven Covey. His big thing was: you're choosing your attitude. I eventually realized: yes, up to a point. The trick is to realize that pain is simply a message. Killing the messenger isn't going to eliminate the crap that it's coming from.

So I learned not to imagine that changing my attitude was a method for defeating stuff I didn't want or know how to deal with. Sometimes you gotta step up and face it. If you don't, the messenger will come back... with a vengeance.
0 Replies
 
jgweed
 
  2  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 03:22 pm
While there is much to admire in Epictetus and the Stoics, especially in understanding one's attitude often colours events, the other side of the coin is that it attempts to subdue all passion and can become a philosophy of quietism and isolation from Others which leads to a refusal to be engaged in any attempt to change the world for the better. Equanimity in the face of tyranny or senseless violence may make one safe and happy, but seems unlikely to cause one to act to prevent either for one's own life or for that of the Other.
salima
 
  2  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 06:58 pm
@jgweed,
i think that's where the fatalism comes in...i must be a nondeterministic stoical utopian or something like that.

come to think of it, the Serenity Prayer is an example of a good attitude:
Grant me the peace (might have misremembered the term)to accept the things i cannot change,
the courage to change what i can change,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
jimrich
 
  0  
Reply Mon 25 Oct, 2010 01:12 pm
re :we must have the proper attitude
... That's what I am just learning. And my current 'proper attitude' is deciding and choosing to have a happy - not unhappy attitude all the time and about everything. I see now that when I come from a happy attitude, most if not all situations are manageable or better than with my previous unhappy, frightened, angry, depressed, attitudes and defenses.
I choose to be happy now - not unhappy as my old attitude was.
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Oct, 2010 01:25 pm
@salima,
What you can change is changed, given you really really can, and nature allows it...if you don´t, then circumstantially you could n´t, even if in different set of local circumstances the possibility were to be there...same is to say that if it is true that you will chose A instead of B then A it is true already...

note that you say ...grant me (someone/something) the courage...grant me one of the ESSENTIAL conditions for the cause...and that such is something else then yourself to grant it...may it be "Life", "Universe", "God", Etc Etc...
0 Replies
 
jimrich
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Sep, 2012 01:14 am
@Theaetetus,
IMO, we would have to begin by examining our selves and our early childhood to understand where our attitudes come from and why we have them. Many 0f my attitudes were programed into me as a little, defenseless kid (just as they were into my parents and their parents, etc.) and it has helped me to change my attitudes by first examining the ones I habitually use and deciding which ones I will keep and which ones I will DUMP from now on. It's interesting to notice how difficult it is to dump unwanted attitudes and behaviors that were installed in me years ago and that I have unwittingly obeyed all these years. I'd guess most ppl never question their automatic behaviors/feelings and just go with what they were taught (programed) in childhood. Once these automatic/scripted attitudes are examined, we might be able to employ "proper attitudes towards external events." As Epictetus recommends. Owing to my very dysfunctional family background, I find that most of my attitudes are not good and so I am constantly trying to undo past mental damages and adopt better attitudes - once I learn them!
IMO, the problem with simplistic recipes like Epictetus offers is that they do not include significant elements such as early childhood conditioning and ramble on and on as if everyone is perfectly healthy and well suited to adopt his simplistic concepts. Well, maybe if someone tries to use "proper attitudes", they might realize that they will FIRST need to repair the wrong/bad attitudes they already have from childhood and start over again.
All of human behavior needs to be examined from the ground up (early childhood influences) before someone can offer these simplistic recipes for good behavior. If you had unhealthy beginnings, you are most likely NOT going to be able to summon up "proper" attitudes in any situation.
0 Replies
 
imans
 
  0  
Reply Sun 9 Sep, 2012 02:17 am
what matter there is not what one or another think while having to b or to react, ur thoughts dont matter at all
what really matter is ur right of being, being is by definition relative thing so nothing to everything and to anything real, while for the being it is all the exclusive fact really there
keeping meaning being from gods or from what universe look like or from wills and excitements run for life, is ur choice if that is ur existence being like, but u cant force every being to that nor deny the reality of being itself right
this is a real issue while it seems nothing but it is the true issue that would make the truth move for, only truth freedom in what it is present existence is the one concerned there to defend efficiently beings rights

how whatever u say clearly belonging to smthg else elsewhere and more someone else elsewhere is more existing right then me here when it is only about my right of what i look like the most so nothing to any else

it is crazy the extent of that absurdity, how so much different ones and so much different powers on things are against what exist really and for taking advantage of existence facts to increase their own existence assets as their way of being themselves or smthg
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

is there a fundamental value that we all share? - Discussion by existential potential
The ethics of killing the dead - Discussion by joefromchicago
Theoretical Question About Extra Terrestrials - Discussion by failures art
The Watchmen Dilemma - Discussion by Sentience
What is your fundamental moral compass? - Discussion by Robert Gentel
morals and ethics, how are they different? - Question by existential potential
The Trolley Problem - Discussion by joefromchicago
Keep a $900 Computer I Didn't Buy? - Question by NathanCooperJones
Killing through a dungeon - Question by satyesu
 
  1. Forums
  2. » External Events, Other People, and the Self
Copyright © 2020 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 08/11/2020 at 01:12:16