Tuesday

July 22

”NO; but talk to me about other things; for upon this I am determined." What other things? What is of greater consequence than to convince you that it is not sufficient to be determined, and to persist? This is the tension of a madman, not of one in health. “I will die if you compel me to this." Why so, man: what is the matter?—"I am determined." I have a lucky escape that you are not determined to kill me. "I take no money." Why so? "I am determined." Be assured that with that very tension which you now make use of to refuse it, you may very possibly, hereafter, have as unreasonable a propensity to take it; and again to say, "I am determined." As in a distempered and rheumatic body the humour tends sometimes to one part, sometimes to another; thus it is uncertain which way a sickly mind will incline. But if to its inclination and bent an obstinate tension be likewise added, the evil then becomes desperate and incurable.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §15. ¶2

2 comments:

  1. I have a SERIOUS aversion to determinism, for several reasons.

    1. I don't think it's true. I believe that we are free to choose, even if that faculty is stunted in many of us
    2. It's a lousy excuse for horrible behaviour. While I don't deny fate as a possiblility in some sense or as a psychological reality, I believe that so many religious fanatics use it as a crutch and excuse
    3. Even if determinism IS TRUE, I'm going to think and act AS THOUGH I'm free. No other way to live

    Anyway, that's my rant on determinism....:-)

    brett

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  2. I can agree with that (your 1-3) almost completely. I do see the physical laws of the universe --nature, complexity, evolution, DNA, individual experience, time and place --as putting real limitations on the choices we are able to make.

    BUT, there is plenty of room inside of those restrictions to build a rewarding, simple and happy life. The stoic philosophy (with a healthy consideration for modern science) is the best reasoning I have ever found for telling us what is ours to choose and what is not.

    "Life it self is but what you deem it."

    The most important thing is that YOU do the 'deeming'. :)

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