The Daily Stoic: January 10, 2021

Filed in PhilosophyTags: Clarity, Daily Stoic, Epictetus, Perception

Reflections on The Daily Stoic:

  • The Discipline of Perception
  • January's Theme: Clarity
  • Topic: If You Want to be Steady
  • Stoic: Epictetus

Today's quote:

The essence of good is a certain kind of reasoned choice; just as the essence of evil is another kind. What about externals, then? They are only the raw material for our reasoned choice, which finds its own good or evil in working with them. How will it find the good? Not by marveling at the material! For if judgments about the material are straight that makes our choices good, but if those judgments are twisted, our choices turn bad.

- Discourses, 1.29.1-3

The stoics considered good and bad to be attributes only of one's internal thoughts, choices, and actions - regardless of any benevolent or ill intent of external forces that lead to our exercise of internal control. To the stoics, assessing thoughts, choices, and actions as either good or bad was based on the application of reason and judgment to our reaction to those external forces, with the objective of achieving, as The Daily Stoic describes, "steadiness, stability, and tranquility."

As Christians, our reason and judgment are informed by the word of God, by our understanding of the nature of God, and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. "Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you." (Psalm 119:89-91) "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." (Psalm 119:105) "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (II Timothy 3:16-17) "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth... But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:16-17, 26)

Thus, we find steadiness, stability, and tranquility in a world full of anything but, by standing firm in our faith - an active choice and conscious response, based on reason and judgment, to the external forces over which we have no control.