Stoic Triage

For we ought to have these two principles in readiness: that except the will nothing is good nor badand that we ought not to lead events, but to follow them. "My brother ought not to have behaved thus to me." No; but he will see to that: and, however he may behave, I will conduct myself toward him as I ought. For this is my own business: that belongs to another; no man can prevent this, the other thing can be hindered.


 This Stoic Saturday post will be short. I usually write them early but this weekend has been about enjoying time with my wife, going to a great Amanda Palmer show and, today, brewing an American Stout.

This week I've been dwelling on principle one: Stoic morality. I think most people have run into Hamlet's version, "there's nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." There's probably a difference between the stoic will and generalized thinking, but why nitpick? The point is, I've been working on internalizing the Stoic view of the world.

In the Discourses, particularly in Book Three, Epictetus really pushes constant attention to principle one. Over and over, he asks his students to apply a simple rule to every situation, is this thing before me independent of the will, or dependent? If it's independent, he says to "throw it away." As I understand it, Epictetus is telling me to toss these things into the Indifferent category. That concept was covered well by Michael Daw in a recent post, I suggest checking it out. If something is dependent on the will, then I'm given a choice. Will I act with virtue, the only good? Or will I act out of vice, the only bad? This way of approaching situations is on the face of it, simple, and also very powerful. I find that performing stoic triage on events frees me to apply my energy towards fixable problems. I could say a lot about that, but I seriously need to start brewing. Happy Saturday, all.