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Virtue and desire

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Virtue and desire

Postby Episcopus » Tue Sep 27, 2005 2:17 pm

evening all,

i am at present working on an essay based on the letters of the Stoic Seneca (minor), and was wondering what you might make of certain issues.

1. the divine fire is god, and absolute reason, then the entire world has purpose. we therefore act upon natural necessity, so why should we try to suppress desires to seek pleasure, a human instinct, as we are negating our natural purpose. Aristotle said that the essential nature of humans is reason. this is bollocks. humans are animals, just a bit more intelligent; a man without sex is like Martial without a little boy.

2. and, if we all have a purpose to do what is necessary, why is Seneca advising his friend Lucilius so much? why doesn't he just let him get on with it? if Lucilius wishes to become swole then Seneca should let him do what he has to do. or is it the purpose, the natural duty, of Seneca to dissuade his friend?

3. virtue according to Stoicism is good. vice is bad. pleasure/pain and other pairs are neither good nor bad. there is no degree of virtue, nor of vice. therefore, if you kiss your girlfriend and are a little bit randy, that is bad. but if you not only kiss her but also make residence in her uterus then that is of equal evil?

4. if the soul is to the body as god is to the earth, and Seneca advises us not to bodybuild, then why build on earth? we should all lie down and rub the earth/praise god, to become healthier in spirit! but wait a minute, health is neither good nor bad so who cares! Seneca says "hanc [animi] valetudinem cura" - why should we care about any health if only virtue is good. virtue is life according to reason, the only good, but one must have a healthy, clean soul to be virtuous. once again the digital style ONvirtue OFFvice, everything in the middle = nothing idea seems silly. I would prefer a more analogue philosophy.

5. if some one commits suicide, he does nothing wrong, as life is of no value. you can just picture Seneca jumping about with his walking stick having murdered every man child and woman in the ancient world then saying "Quid mali?" :shock:

gah, the pursuit of truth continues.

~E
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Postby Deudeditus » Tue Sep 27, 2005 4:50 pm

1. the divine fire is god, and absolute reason, then the entire world has purpose. we therefore act upon natural necessity, so why should we try to suppress desires to seek pleasure, a human instinct, as we are negating our natural purpose. Aristotle said that the essential nature of humans is reason. this is bollocks. humans are animals, just a bit more intelligent; a man without sex is like Martial without a little boy.

Maybe the world has purpose, but that doesn't mean that we act because of necessity... Did I really need to reply to this post? Maybe our real necessity is in fact "to suppress desires to seek pleasure". Also, have you ever wondered at the fact that the X commandments tell us not to do the things we want to do?
3. virtue according to Stoicism is good. vice is bad. pleasure/pain and other pairs are neither good nor bad. there is no degree of virtue, nor of vice. therefore, if you kiss your girlfriend and are a little bit randy, that is bad. but if you not only kiss her but also make residence in her uterus then that is of equal evil?
I think what they're trying to say is that, if you kiss your girlfriend, you should make temporary residence in her sheathe. If you leave your gladius in open air, that is the crime.
age quae cupis, I am told and indeed agam quae cupio. non agere quae cupis est solum vitium.
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Postby Episcopus » Tue Sep 27, 2005 9:02 pm

Please, I am trying to be virtuous here! That is now two people to-day who have told me to follow willical whims.
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Postby Deudeditus » Tue Sep 27, 2005 11:26 pm

virtue is living with reason? One Mr. Dahmer could probably reason out his various sceleres. Hitler on many occasions reasoned out genocide... quid mali? :shock: I'd say that both examples were evil... but I'm not Seneca.
well, my second comment was a bit light-hearted, but my first one doesn't suggest that you follow your "willical whims". Sorry. I hereby recant my puerile and flippant answer.
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Postby Episcopus » Wed Sep 28, 2005 3:17 pm

by no means was I scorning you, D. your first post was indeed valid. and your point regarding hitler an interesting one. it brings us to the question, what is reason? it has no set value and seems therefore undefined. hitler could indeed give plausible reasons as to why he would want to eliminate an entire race in such an unspeakable manner, but most would not see this as virtuous. reason and subsequently virtue needs to be defined more accurately, but perhaps this is impossible. N.B. i enjoy puerile retorts, as long as the rest of the post is of some substance.

re: mentula/gladius/veru/hasta/harundo/pilum/ramus/remus/lignum nefandum/quercus/formica, I think that a great example of virtue is a boy resisting the urges of his [insert from above] in order to return gloriously to his latinate roots without distractions of [you can write words for fanny(british), it's a bit too rude for me]. Most however would say that this is stupid, the inverse of reason, and consequently the inverse of virtue. To deny natural urges, it is to lie to ourselves? Or is the set purpose of the world meant to contain those who resist temptations set by the divine fire?
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Postby Deudeditus » Wed Sep 28, 2005 5:12 pm

Some would believe that the resisting of one's natural, animal urges is indeed what makes us humans different, and what allows us to rise above the instinctual actions of our furrier friends. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, sexual intercourse and thought is usually at the height of the debate, as most "animals" do not steal for the sake of stealing or kill out of hate/rage/"evil"(in it's common description)... they do not copulate for the sake of copulation either. rather, they seem to regard the act as necessary for the procreation of the species, which "animals" apparently instincually figure out. But humans do steal for stealing's sake, we do kill out of hate, we do engage in intercourse for pleasure, among other things. If the resistance of nature's urges is indeed "virtuous", then, if the whole of mankind were to suddenly become "virtuous" we would cease to exist as a species in the time of one generation... but that is hardly plausible. Some cultures (I would hazard to guess all cultures, but this is merely a guess...) do make exceptions for denying entirely the three "animal" urges listed above (theft, killing, and sex) by supplying conditions in which hi appetitus nostri can be sated (theft when one is starving, killing in self-defence or for one's country, sex in marriage, etc.)
I'll finish later.... class...
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Postby Episcopus » Wed Sep 28, 2005 5:24 pm

evening again D,

do you really think however that a buffalo thinks "ooh, must reproduce lest my species become extinct"? immo, he would probably do it because his natural urge is to perducere a female buffalodis fossam.

humans in general remind me of a silly girl trying to be intelligent, spelling "experiance", proclaiming "but" to be a modal verb, only being skilled veruum artis. some might call me cynical. humans are animals trying to kid themselves. a girl will not go out with a fat smelly boy whether he is a fluent speaker of all languages in the world.

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Re: Virtue and desire

Postby Emma_85 » Wed Sep 28, 2005 9:39 pm

Episcopus wrote:evening all,

i am at present working on an essay based on the letters of the Stoic Seneca (minor), and was wondering what you might make of certain issues.

1. the divine fire is god, and absolute reason, then the entire world has purpose. we therefore act upon natural necessity, so why should we try to suppress desires to seek pleasure, a human instinct, as we are negating our natural purpose. Aristotle said that the essential nature of humans is reason. this is bollocks. humans are animals, just a bit more intelligent; a man without sex is like Martial without a little boy.

2. and, if we all have a purpose to do what is necessary, why is Seneca advising his friend Lucilius so much? why doesn't he just let him get on with it? if Lucilius wishes to become swole then Seneca should let him do what he has to do. or is it the purpose, the natural duty, of Seneca to dissuade his friend?

3. virtue according to Stoicism is good. vice is bad. pleasure/pain and other pairs are neither good nor bad. there is no degree of virtue, nor of vice. therefore, if you kiss your girlfriend and are a little bit randy, that is bad. but if you not only kiss her but also make residence in her uterus then that is of equal evil?

4. if the soul is to the body as god is to the earth, and Seneca advises us not to bodybuild, then why build on earth? we should all lie down and rub the earth/praise god, to become healthier in spirit! but wait a minute, health is neither good nor bad so who cares! Seneca says "hanc [animi] valetudinem cura" - why should we care about any health if only virtue is good. virtue is life according to reason, the only good, but one must have a healthy, clean soul to be virtuous. once again the digital style ONvirtue OFFvice, everything in the middle = nothing idea seems silly. I would prefer a more analogue philosophy.

5. if some one commits suicide, he does nothing wrong, as life is of no value. you can just picture Seneca jumping about with his walking stick having murdered every man child and woman in the ancient world then saying "Quid mali?" :shock:

gah, the pursuit of truth continues.

~E


of course it's bollocks, but it's not about agreeing with this guy's philosophy, as long as you can understand where he's coming from and what it was all about, that's the important bit. They didn't know about evolution back in those days you see... :lol:
in these letters Seneca is just explaining Stoicism really for people to read them and understand what this philosophy is all about. It's basically a way to try and guarantee human's happieness, as strange as it may sound at first, when he says all emotion is to be erradicated and such like. But basically it's like this: we can't guarantee that we will always be healthy - some virus can come and make us sick at any time, especially so in his days, when medicine was not so advanced. If we take pride in the fact that we are so healthy, we'd be really sad if we then fell ill and could never walk again for example. Same with basically everything else... you can't be sure that tomorrow you will still have a job, a house, a family, friends etc., so best not to get too attached to anything and try to tell yourself that it's not in your power to make sure nothing terrible ever happens to your girlfriend, so if she dies in an accident, to make sure you won't fall down and cry with grief, you have to harden yourself off.
If you actually managed to be so emotionless you wouldn't be much a human and not live much of a life in my opinion. So you know, their attempt to make happieness independent of outside influence sort of proves that well... happieness is dependent on ourside influences really... well, I think so at least...
If my memory isn't playing tricks on me, isn't it in those letters that Seneca also says that you should not go and try to teach stoicism to everyone, just a select few? He's basically saying that it's not something for everyone to follow anyway and that you should stay away from loads of humans as they'd corrupt you and make you human again :wink: (well, he doesn't put it quite like that, but sort of). So yeah, you've got to try and surpress being 'normal' and isolate yourself and think of nothing else for this to even have a chance to work, he admitts that himself :lol: .

I think when it comes to suicide he doesn't really say that we should all go and kill ourselves, he says though that's nothing to be afraid of and that if life holds nothing more for us, it's ok to kill ourselves (been a while since I read that text mind you). That's a view that was generally held in ancient times, suicide was often held in high regard, if you did it under such circumstances. I think under normal circumstances though, Seneca would say that it would be unreasonable to kill oneself as then you could no longer do anything virtuous if you're dead. As long as you can still live a life that is worth living, you should go and living it.

As for living with reason being the most important virtue... he does have a point here... well, not sure about this virtue business, but reason is one of the few things that makes us humans different from animals really. We can think things through with the help of words and logic. It's the one thing that makes up human, so if we want to be really human our brain is the one thing we should use :wink:
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Postby Deudeditus » Thu Sep 29, 2005 2:53 pm

Why would anyone try to get rid of emotion? Is it really that bad? Sadness is just another part of life. It's maybe not the best part, but it lets us know we're here.

It's basically a way to try and guarantee human's happieness, as strange as it may sound at first, when he says all emotion is to be erradicated and such like

If all emotion is to be done away with, how can we be happy at all?

Have y'all seen the movie Equilibrium? It kinda ties in with the whole "no emotion" thing. Basically, this one group of people invent a drug which has the effect of rendering inactive all emotion in the person who takes said drug. And they also make feeling emotion a crime, I think they call it a "sense crime". At the cost of no happiness, there is no sadness, hate, and all the bad stuff that comes from them.
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Postby Episcopus » Thu Sep 29, 2005 3:57 pm

happiness and sadness are all natural emotions given to us. if there were a purpose in this world to be emotionless, the divine fire would have made us so. sadness merely makes a person stronger and, provided that it is conquered, renders one more virtuous. are stoics perhaps in denial lest they experience pain? i have experienced sadness but this has not made me paranoid and i still wish to take risks to seek more happiness.
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