Delight Springs

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ancient therapy

It's Cynics, Skeptics, Epicureans, & Stoics today in CoPhi.

Cynics weren't so cynical as many of us have become. Diogenes "had an ardent passion for 'virtue' but little interest in material wealth or the standard conventions and "amenities of civilization." He did not value the common script that people called honor, wisdom, and happiness. Like Thoreau, he considered himself rich in the extent of all he could afford to let alone. He and his friends were, says our walking guide Gros, the only authentic peripatetics. He so loved dogs that he decided to live like one.

Pyrrho the skeptic cultivated indifference and neutrality, with respect to belief and conduct. Timon the skeptic acknowledged appearances but withheld all assent to their reality.

Epicurus disdained luxury, sought tranquility, and said neither death nor the gods are anything to fear. Sex for him (despite his movement's spurious reputation) was overrated, friendship underrated. His priority was the avoidance of pain, not the voracious chase for pleasure. He died like a Stoic.

Seneca died like a Stoic's Stoic, either heroically or foolishly depending on how much you value consistency and fatalism. Like Diogenes he inverted the conventional view of riches, preferring "the example of a virtuous life." 

"It is remarkable that Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius," slave and emperor respectively, "are completely at one on all philosophical questions." Epictetus said, and all of the philosophical therapists we're seeing today, Aurelius to Zeno, agreed: "I am a citizen of the universe." In that highest allegiance they all felt "safe," and at home. Their civic sense, I say, is far superior to the Spartan chauvinism that inspired Plato's vision of republican perfection.

5:30/6:31, 69/90/67, 6:54

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