We contemporary Stoics really overthink this stuff...
Oh, and maybe this factoid is of interest to some. A. A. (Tony) Long is my favorite philosopher and scholar of Stoicism. But when his outstanding book on Epictetus came out years ago, I asked him whether he identified himself as a Stoic. He said 'no.' The lesson here? Read anything and everything Tony Long has ever written about Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Stoicism to enhance your understanding of this ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. But applying the Stoics' wisdom to your daily life is up to you, no matter how you wish to identify yourself or your philosophical allegiance. Being a good person counts the most, right?
Tanner's "Just 8 Things" piece is really excellent. He explains clearly how walking the talk, while understanding both the talking and the walking, is necessary and sufficient for living in the way Stoics would commend. Thank you, Tanner, for this very illuminating, helpful essay.
One thing that came to my mind reading Tanner's fine piece of writing is a nuance regarding what is not up to us, but is also not exactly an indifferent. Namely, in the _Discourses_ he says that once you have a child (become a parent), it is no longer up to you NOT to love that child. Sure, choosing to engage in sex with a consenting partner is up to you. But the female partner becoming pregnant is NOT up to her. Choosing to carry the fetus to term is partly up to her, but also partly NOT up to her, since she could have a miscarriage, whether resulting from an accident or from other biological factors. But Epictetus believes that once the child is born, it is not up to either the mother or the father NOT to love that child. The Greek word is "philostorgia", meaning parental affection, which other mammals and birds have for their offspring.
Is this feeling of love for your child an indifferent? I don't think Epictetus would say so, because this parental love is a good, admirable feeling which is ratified by LOGOS. It is good that parents love and so want to care for and protect their offspring. So, this philostorgia is virtuous, admirable, and, I think Epictetus believes, according to nature's norm. So, although this parental love is not up to the parent not to have, it is not an indifferent because it is tightly tied to her virtue.
Thank you, Tanner, for helping me think through this important text in Epictetus!
Hey Tanner, I seem to remember you took issue when I quoted Marcus 'Just be one' 😊 You said it really wasn't that simple...well, maybe it is...
Thank you so much for this Tanner! I’m personally sick and tired of the compulsion people have these days for deciding there’s a “right” and “wrong” to everything, and that even people are to be dismissed if they fall into the “wrong” category: the “us” vs. “them” mentality. Everyone has value, no matter where they are on their journey, if it is an honest and sincere effort, especially in Stoicism. Thank you as well for giving the simplest of explanations for the 8 tenets. You’re the OG.
There seems to be a problematic thread running through society: everyone seems desperate to identify as something – to be part of a tribe.
It’s not long before people are then deciding who are, and who aren’t, the “real” tribe members.
This is something we ought to avoid, as in the case of stoicism, it detracts from doing the actual stoicism. We ought to be thinking about the challenges of the philosophy without worrying too much about where the boundaries are.
I don’t even call myself a stoic, even though I’m very interested in it. It’s something I do, not an immutable and innate part of who I am.
Such a great reminder! One thing I learned during my Masters in Theatre is that theory without practice is just theory. Theory integrated with practice is praxis. That idea has helped guide me through learning and practicing Stoicism.
Great reminder Tanner! It's easy to get lost in the discussions around Stoicism from an academic perspective. Let's face it, it's a downright interesting topic sometimes. But yes, that can absolutely get in the way of implementation if we aren't careful. I've noticed your 7th point is seriously misunderstood or ignored oftentimes.
Прекрасная концентрация сути учения. Ведь философия и существует для того, чтобы объяснять сложные вещи простым языком. Но это только после того, как человек всё усложнит для себя и дойдя до пика знаний- сможет резюмировать учение в простых словах, но уже на другом, сверх уровне понимания сути учения. Автор Таннер Кэмпбелл уже на том уровне. С удовольствием читаю ваши статьи.
When our actions are in line with our words. To “walk the walk”. To be authentic. To lead by example. To be open to the lessons in our day-to-day and apply them. To pay attention and be intentional.
The hardest part for me is fighting the urge to point the finger at everyone else. It’s so darn easy!
Hello Tanner! Just discovered you, great stuff. Looking forward to reading more.