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comment by ooli
ooli  ·  116 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: How to be happy? Most people have it backwards.

I like how anti-"fun" he is :

    California because they think of the weather and fail to take account of other things, such as the fact that California is full of tedious hippies.

and

    In other words, last night’s party was never as good as you think it was.

Seriously, it's a shame that mindfulness is more mainstream than CBT. I guess coming from antique Asia, is the recipe to success in the west. Cant wait when everyone start ingesting mercury like Qin Shi Huang





kleinbl00  ·  116 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I am impressed that he managed to bring up the word "eudimonia" without once mentioning the Stoics. Fundamentally, this whole piece is Seneca without Seneca.

buteos  ·  116 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I like how anti-"fun" he is :

Is he though? If he was "anti-fun" I don't think he'd have made this statement.

    I used to be part of the Territorial Army (now known as the ‘Army Reserve’) and spent most of my weekends in cold, muddy puddles getting shouted at. When I looked back on the weekends, I’d somehow convinced myself that I’d had a great time playing soldiers. So I put this to the test and one weekend I decided to write down how I felt as it happened. I realised I hated it. That was my last weekend with the Army.

Dude is all over the map, actually. It's not his fault, happiness is a complex concept (it's no wonder people struggle to achieve it). He seems to jump back and forth between the concept of happiness as approached by pursuing pleasure and contentment as approached by detachment, discipline, and self understanding. Not surprisingly, he finds arguments that validates and invalidates both. The whole conversation is unfocused, which is understandable, because it looks more like it was an interview instead of a thought out, planned, and focused essay. Even if it was, I don't think the concept of happiness, pleasure, fulfillment, contentment, suffering, and struggles could be tackled in so few words.

kleinbl00  ·  116 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The problem is that he's trying very hard to put forth the notion that classical greek Stoicism is "happiness" when what the Stoics were really going for was closer to "contentment" or "satisfaction." I suspect he does this because the Jordan Peterson Army has co-opted Stoicism but it doesn't change the fact that he's basically using a lot of "I thinks" and "I feels" and unreferenced mad-libs examples to plagiarize Meditations in pithy self-help column format.

buteos  ·  116 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I did not know that Stoicism has been given a bad name recently, which is a shame. There's a lot of things in there that I find agreeable, such as the need to place emphasis on deeds over words and how a healthy outlook approach to detachment can help us focus on what is right and important over what is desired.

"Meditations" makes for a pretty good read, from what I've thumbed through. Dala bought two translations. I think she got the Gregory Hays translation with herself in mind, as it's written in modern English and is therefore easier to follow, and she got the Martin Hammond translation for me, cause it's a little more poetic, and she knows how much I love poetry with my religion/philosophy.

nil  ·  116 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Stoicism shares a lot of parallels with Buddhism in its approach to detachment and focus on so-called virtuous behaviour. The problem lies in whether or not self-restraint and possibly self-denial is appropriate in all contexts, and to what degree. Rules for life.

My issue with Stoicism is it quickly becomes bent into a kind of tough guy, cold, emotionally detached approach to reality. The notion that "pure judgments" of situations can exist is a stretch. Personal judgments will always cloud reality. The illusion is in the "rational" approach not just being another personal judgment.

The other problem is it is very difficult to truly know what it is or isn't in one's control. I could spend the rest of today writing a song, call a random drummer in a Facebook group, work like a dog, and have a music video out by next Friday that will propel me to international stardom. Is that likely? It's possible. I would argue to desire anything seriously requires a degree of attachment, and potential disappointment and unhappiness. That doesn't mean you shouldn't still do it.

buteos  ·  116 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Stoicism shares a lot of parallels with Buddhism in its approach to detachment and focus on so-called virtuous behaviour.

    . . .

    My issue with Stoicism is it quickly becomes bent into a kind of tough guy, cold, emotionally detached approach to reality.

But isn't that missing three core concepts of Stoicism then? That one, concepts like compassion and generosity are in and of themselves virtuous behavior. That two, detachment isn't about separating one from reality but a way to live with it. That three, deeds matter?

    The problem lies in whether or not self-restraint and possibly self-denial is appropriate in all contexts, and to what degree.

Detachment isn't about self restraint or self denial though. Detachment is about the ability to let go and to not be moved by undue influences. For example, I love my car but if I crash it and total it, I need to learn to be okay with that or else the love of my car will harm me. Or I love and adore my country, but I need to exercise that love and adoration with detachment so that I am able to see its flaws and protect myself from falling into a jingoistic mindset. Detachment doesn't mean I can't own a car or love my country or hope for good things, detachment means I need to keep those things from corrupting me, harming me, or cause me to harm others.

    The other problem is it is very difficult to truly know what it is or isn't in one's control. I could spend the rest of today writing a song, call a random drummer in a Facebook group, work like a dog, and have a music video out by next Friday that will propel me to international stardom. Is that likely? It's possible. I would argue to desire anything seriously requires a degree of attachment, and potential disappointment and unhappiness. That doesn't mean you shouldn't still do it.

Once again, detachment empowers you to do your best, hope for the best, expect great things, but be at peace with the results if they're less than stellar or if they are stellar, keep the results from going to your head.

Edit: I'm not trying to be argumentative or combative here. I'm just trying to sound things out loud because the way you're talking about stoicism and the way I understand it feel really different.

nil  ·  115 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Nah, you're good. Don't worry about it.

    That one, concepts like compassion and generosity are in and of themselves virtuous behavior. That two, detachment isn't about separating one from reality but a way to live with it. That three, deeds matter?

You'll find me hard-pressed to disagree here. Stoicism is often presented as a very "practical" philosophy, the problem is in practice everyone has their own idea of "compassion," "generosity," "virtuous behaviour." And in the modern era "Stoic" has turned into a kind of adjective describing someone indifferent to pain and pleasure, kind of not caring, which you're right, isn't what Stoicism is all about.

In order to not be moved by undue influences one would have to exercise self-restraint though, unless you had no urge whatsoever to curse at the person who cut you off in traffic. That is the main goal of insight meditation - develop the mind such that you won't engage in unskillful activity. What you wrote actually reminded me of the David Foster Wallace. There is detachment from simply not caring and there's detachment from deep, penetrating awareness, which can take quite a bit of effort.

The problem is always, what do you do? Would yelling at the person who cut you off maybe help them? Would you honk the horn? Maybe they would think twice, like oh jeez I need to be more careful driving or I could cause an accident? Or would it merely aggravate them and potentially escalate the situation? So in practice all actions have the potential to either be virtuous or cause suffering, and sometimes other people's mindset can affect that. We have a general idea of what is good and bad, but not always. Reading the room is a complex art. As for generosity:

Should you drop everything and dedicate your whole life to the alleviation of suffering? Should you abandon personal ambition and a career to help others? Work in the prisons? That was something I struggled with mightily as a Buddhist. The key statement you make is this.

    Or I love and adore my country, but I need to exercise that love and adoration with detachment so that I am able to see its flaws and protect myself from falling into a jingoistic mindset.

Desiring not to be a jingoist or loving a country is a personal judgment in itself. What flaws you might find where you live might be different from which flaws somebody else finds. American exceptionalism, for example, might be good for the economy. Would you go to war to defend your country? One could argue the most compassionate response is to refrain from killing, always, and not to expose yourself to situations that could get you killed. Another might call you a coward who's okay with fascism spreading.

    Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions; the philosophy holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to understand the universal reason (logos).

I don't disagree clear thinking and rationality are possible and desirable, but it becomes difficult outside of formal logic and mathematics. One of my issues studying economics were a lot of my professors would treat their research as absolute, scientific truth, rather than essentially a political argument backed up by data. One study involved arguing government-funded childcare was a disaster as its recipients performed worse on developmental metrics. Rational, correct, but completely ignoring certain "emotional" assumptions being made.

Also,

    The Stoic ethic espouses a deterministic perspective; in regard to those who lack Stoic virtue, Cleanthes once opined that the wicked man is "like a dog tied to a cart, and compelled to go wherever it goes".

Unless Donald Trump gets impaled by a series of micrometeroids I'm not sure fate is working to balance the scales. The emphasis on deterministic fate reminds me of the Greeks, their idea even the Gods couldn't escape the fates, which I disagree with.

buteos  ·  115 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I think part of the issue you're running into with this is that you're kind of taking an "all or nothing approach" and if we're to approach this with Buddhism in mind (I'm gonna switch to that cause I'm a bit more familiar but the parallels with Stoicism are still there), there's the whole "middle path" and "avoiding of extremes." With traffic in mind, who's to say being cut off warrants any response more than knowing that it frustrated you, appreciate the fact that you can still be frustrated, and let go of the moment. I'm not necessarily saying "no harm, no foul" but sometimes it's better to just not act at all. Now say on the other hand, you're being mistreated by a co-worker and they're creating a hostile work environment for you and your other co-workers, that's a situation that requires a thoughtful reaction.

Similarly for generosity, it's not an all or nothing approach. It's important to give, but it's also important to not give so much that you burn yourself out, put yourself in financially, emotionally, psychologically precarious positions.

    Desiring not to be a jingoist or loving a country is a personal judgment in itself. What flaws you might find where you live might be different from which flaws somebody else finds. American exceptionalism, for example, might be good for the economy. Would you go to war to defend your country? One could argue the most compassionate response is to refrain from killing, always, and not to expose yourself to situations that could get you killed. Another might call you a coward who's okay with fascism spreading.

I feel like I could answer this from a Baha'i perspective, but since that's not the philosophy discussed here and I'm starting to doubt what I understand of Stoicism, I don't have a good answer for this. I think the best answer would to circle back to Stoicism's emphasis on personal, independent thought and say "you gotta analyze the situation and come up with your own answers."

    I don't disagree clear thinking and rationality are possible and desirable, but it becomes difficult outside of formal logic and mathematics.

It isn't, but you gotta factor in concepts of what is compassionate, what is just, etc. With that in mind, to the quote you selected . . .

    Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions; the philosophy holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to understand the universal reason (logos).

Overcoming destructive emotions doesn't mean not feeling them, it means knowing that they're there, that they make you vulnerable, that they can cause harm, etc. It means empowering you to make the right choices not because they're absent, but because you can handle their presence.

Determinism is partially nonsense in my opinion. It's a good way to fall in an apathetic or fatalist mindset.

Dala  ·  114 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Overcoming destructive emotions doesn't mean not feeling them, it means knowing that they're there, that they make you vulnerable, that they can cause harm, etc. It means empowering you to make the right choices not because they're absent, but because you can handle their presence.

I don’t know, it seems like you have a pretty good grasp on what a Stoic is supposed to be like. This reminds me a bit of one of Marcus Aurelius’ writings (don’t have my books handy so I can’t give a verbatim quote, but here’s the essentials of what I remember) about “It’s unfortunate that this happened. No, it’s fortunate that this happened and that I remained unharmed by it. It could have been anyone, but not everyone could have remained unharmed. Does what’s happened keep you from acting justly and with self control, honesty, and all the other qualities that allow one’s nature to fulfill itself? Then remember this principle when something threatens you: the thing itself is no misfortune, to endure and prevail is great fortune.”

I am fairly certain I am missing a bunch of that passage but really, the only quote out of that book we all need right now (not really) is this:

    Waste no more time arguing what a good man is like. Be one.
buteos  ·  114 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Waste no more time arguing what a good man is like. Be one.

That's a keeper right there.

buteos  ·  116 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    The notion that "pure judgments" of situations can exist is a stretch. Personal judgments will always cloud reality. The illusion is in the "rational" approach not just being another personal judgment.

And I agree with you there, by the way. Like I said elsewhere when quoting Marcus Aurelius . . .

    I don't agree with that whole statement, because I think it leaves room for people to be tempted by their own egos and idle fancies
kleinbl00  ·  116 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Every "thought movement" wraps themselves in the Stoics for the same reason every government building puts Doric columns on the portico.

buteos  ·  116 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Because it's as aesthetically pleasing as it is functional or because our familiarity with its themes offers an air of authority and legitimacy?

I dunno. This is news to me. Honestly. I kind of find it hard to see how a philosophy with a core tenant of "think for yourself" can, if taken seriously, be married to "thought movements" or "philosophical trends."

Maybe I misunderstand stoicism.

Edit:

    Judge yourself entitled to any word or action which is in accord with nature, and do not let any subsequent criticism or persuasion talk you out of it. No, if it was a good thing to say or do, do not revoke your entitlement. Those others are guided by their own minds and pursue their own impulses. Do not be distracted by any of this, but continue straight ahead, following your own nature and universal nature: these two have one and the same path.

Meditations 5:3

I mean, I don't agree with that whole statement, because I think it leaves room for people to be tempted by their own egos and idle fancies, but it's definitely a call for independence. Maybe I don't understand Stoicism, but maybe others don't as well . . .

kleinbl00  ·  115 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The issue is not that you misunderstand stoicism, it's that you misunderstand "thought movements." I mean, Trump was railing against fascism yesterday. "that which you do" and "that which you say you do" need not be aligned in the slightest.

buteos  ·  115 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    "that which you do" and "that which you say you do" need not be aligned in the slightest.

I don't understand. They totally do.

Edit: Wait, I get it. You mean in regards to thought movements, not Stoicism.