“In all areas, whether large and public or small and domestic, behave in accordance with the laws of nature. Putting your will in harmony with nature should be your greatest ideal. Where do you practice this ideal? In the peculiarities of his own daily life with his unique personal tasks and duties. The word, conventionally translated as “nature,” actually begins with the Greek term “physis.” The physical is not only an object, as in the natural world, nor a state, as in its natural color of a leaf. The physical is a process, it describes how things are supposed to change and grow by nature. So our first clarification would rephrase the statement as “Live according to how things should change and grow.” We all have our inclinations and weaknesses. One way to counter character defects, Epictetus argues, is to counter them with opposite habits. If you are too devoted to physical pleasure or have an irrational fear of pain, practice the opposite extreme. The Stoics defined good as “that which, according to nature, is complete for a rational being as well as a rational being” (Cicero Fin. III.33). As explained above, the perfect nature of a rational being is precisely the perfection of reason, and the perfection of reason is virtue. The Stoics asserted, quite controversial among the old ethical thoughts, that the only thing that still contributes to happiness, as a necessary and sufficient condition, is virtue. Conversely, the only thing that demands misery and is “bad” or “bad” is the corruption of reason, namely vice.
All other things were judged neither good nor bad, but fell into the class of “indifferent”. They were called “indifferent” because the Stoics believed that these things in themselves did not contribute to or divert attention from a happy life. Indifferent people do not benefit from them and do not harm, because they can be used well and badly. The extent of actions, from malicious to virtuous, can be presented as follows: (1) actions performed “against the corresponding action”, which include neglecting parents, not treating friends with kindness, not behaving patriotically and wasting one`s wealth in bad circumstances; (2) Appropriate intermediate actions in which the agent`s disposition is not reasonably consistent and would therefore not be considered virtuous, even if the act itself approximates good conduct. Examples include honoring parents, siblings, and the country, socializing with friends, and sacrificing wealth under the right circumstances; (3) The “perfect actions” performed in the right way by the agent with an absolutely rational, coherent and formally perfect disposition. This perfect layout is virtue. Stoicism is known as Eudaimonist theory, which means that the culmination of human aspiration or “end” (telos) is eudaimonia, which very roughly means “happiness” or “fulfillment.” The Stoics defined this goal as “living in accordance with nature.” “Nature” is a complex and multivalent concept for the Stoics, and therefore their definition of the final goal or end of human effort is very rich. The purpose of life is to live in harmony with nature. Once a person has developed reason, their function is to perform “appropriate actions” or “appropriate functions.” The Stoics defined an appropriate action as “one that persuades someone to do” or “one where, when done, permits reasonable justification.” As an example, the preservation of health is mentioned.
Since health in itself is neither good nor bad, but can be used well or badly, the decision to maintain health, for example, by walking, must be consistent with all other actions of the agent. Similarly, sacrificing one`s property is an example of an action that is only appropriate in certain circumstances. The execution of appropriate actions is only a necessary and not sufficient condition for virtuous action. Indeed, the agent must have the right understanding of the actions he performs. In particular, its selections and rejections must form a continuous series of actions consistent with all virtues at the same time. Each act represents the totality and harmony of its moral integrity. The vast majority of people are not virtuous because, for example, although they correctly follow reason in honoring their parents, they do not adapt to the “laws of life as a whole” by acting appropriately in relation to all other virtues. A man in harmony with himself pursues limited natural desires.
Greed, the desire for more, which is not a natural desire, cannot be satisfied. If you look for things that are out of your control – wealth, reputation or physical pleasure – you will end up frustrated. As Seneca points out, wealth and poverty are relative concepts. And if the elements themselves suffer nothing from their continuous conversion from one to the other, from this dissolution and change so common to all, why should this be feared by anyone? Doesn`t this correspond to nature? But nothing that corresponds to nature can be bad. Prepare for this moment by imagining that you are dead. Memento Mori. Stop clinging to the trivialities of life, abandon them and let them sink into nothingness. Let go of this world. Now that you have ceased to exist, death can no longer touch you.
To live like this – as already dead, indifferent to oneself – is to live invinciblely behind the walls of an indomitable fortress. By embracing adversity as opportunities to practice spiritual discipline, we turn it into opportunities. As the great philosopher Nietzsche said in one of his stoic moments: “What doesn`t kill me makes me stronger. Living in harmony with the natural world is part of what I mean. But there is, in my opinion, a greater nature that we do not know. It is our inner nature, what makes us good and virtuous, the incredible potential we are endowed with. This is reflected both in our behavior and in our sense of fear and gratitude. Seneca once thought about the magnitude of natural phenomena and how it led him to a sense of fear.
In my opinion, the understanding of the natural world of which we are part and the virtuous life that reigns in it are one and the same thing. Thank you for your reply. « If you consider your last day not as a punishment, but as a law of nature, the breast from which you have banished the fear of death will not dare to enter into fear. » Living in harmony with nature starts with accepting our natural limits – inherent and cumbersome. As Epictetus notes, the early Stoics liked intransigent dichotomies – all those who are not wise are fools, all those who are not free are slaves, all those who are not virtuous are evil, etc. The last Stoics distinguished within the class of fools between those who made progress and those who were not. Although the wise or wise man has been called rarer than the phoenix, it is useful to see the concept of the wise man as a prescribed ideal that everyone can aim for. This ideal is therefore not an incredibly high goal, its pursuit is pure futility. On the contrary, all those who are not wise have the rational resources to endure their journey to this ideal. Stoic teachers could use this sublime image as an educational tool to urge their students to constantly strive to improve and not fall into complacency. The Stoics were convinced that as one approached this goal, one came closer to true and sure happiness. “Desire and aversion, while powerful, are only habits.
And we can train ourselves to have better habits. Keep the habit of being pushed away by all the things that are out of your control and instead focus on fighting the things in your power that are not good for you. “Human nature” refers to the state of a person who expresses the best in his development, which is his ultimate “best self”. They grow and change to achieve the ultimate goal of a human being. The Stoics developed a sophisticated psychological theory to explain how the advent of reason fundamentally changes people`s worldview as they mature. This is the theory of “appropriation” or oikeiôsis, a technical term that researchers have also translated differently as “orientation”, “familiarity”, “affinity” or “belonging”. The word means the recognition of something as one`s own, as belonging to oneself. The opposite of oikeiôsis is allotriôsis, which translates perfectly as “alienation”. According to the stoic theory of appropriation, there are two different stages of development. In the first phase, the innate initial impulse of a living organism, plant or animal is self-love and not pleasure, as rival epicureans claim. The organism is aware of its own constitution, although this consciousness of plants is more primitive than that of animals. This awareness implies the immediate recognition of one`s own body as “belonging to oneself”.
The creature is thus oriented towards maintaining its constitution in its own state, that is, natural. As a result, the body is made to maintain itself by pursuing things that promote its own well-being and avoiding things that harm it. Pleasure is only a by-product of success in this business. In the case of a human infant, for example, appropriation explains why the baby is looking for its mother`s milk. But as the child matures, his constitution develops. The child continues to love himself, but as he matures in puberty, his capacity for reason is revealed and what he recognizes as his constitution or self is changed decisively. .