I'm at Minecon in Las Vegas. Minecon is a celebration of a single game, Minecraft, which allows you to shape a private world and then lose your works to exploding monsters. This in itself requires a stoic outlook! The convention is also a testbed of all the sage advice I've written about on Stoic Saturdays past. 5000 attendees plus the rest of Vegas makes for many um...social situations that need to be navigated.
I hope to write a longer post about this weekend's adventures. Today I'm limited by time and the phone on which I'm typing this. All I can say is, stoicism has shaped this event into something fun, lively, and instructive. Also, Minecraft nerds rule.
Today I have got out of all trouble, or rather I have cast out all trouble, for it was not outside, but within and in my opinions.-Marcus Aurelius
My emotions are indifferent when they are not coupled with my opinions. This is completely my own thought, I can't back it up with Stoic quotes and such (maybe I'll be able to in the future). Still, look at this Aurelius quote: Today I have got out of all trouble, or rather I have cast out all trouble, for it was not outside, but within and in my opinions. Opinions come up a lot in Stoicism. This makes sense, opinions are formed by all the aspects of our mind that Stoics find important, like the will and reason. So the question becomes, where do my emotions meet my opinions?
For we ought to have these two principles in readiness: that except the will nothing is good nor bad; and 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.
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.
...we can't afford to simply indulge the passion of our differences. Not anymore.
- Lawrence Lessig