1.30.2005

If the question is wrong, the answer doesn't matter

Saturday's Thus Spoke Epictetus quote:

“‘What good do I get from following your teachings?’ What greater good do you look for than this? You were shameless and shall be self-respecting, untrustworthy and you shall be trusted, dissolute and you shall be self-controlled. If you look for greater things than these, go on doing as you do now: not even a god can save you.” -Epictetus, Discourses 4.9.17 [Matheson Trans.]


Armchair philosophers and pundits have rightfully decried those who focus their life energies on leisure activities and pleasures. Hedonism, even of the enlightened variety, is seen as a construct to justify man's baser nature.

Those who are seeking out the "big score" or the "right job" receive less criticism. Ambition is lauded in our modern society; it's admirable to want to be the biggest and the best.

As Epictetus points out, neither extreme is the correct goal. What good is the search for leisure or accomplishment if one has not virtue? And if one masters one's own passions, how much healthier will the enjoyment of pleasure or the attainment of accomplishment be, by being grounded in a personal framework of morals and ethics?

And thus, I will continue to work on being self-respecting, trustworthy, and self-controlled.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...live well...

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