Roman Calendar

Friday, March 29, 2013

De Amore Fati (On the "Amor Fati" - the "Love of Fate") - from "The Philosophy of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy"

     In The Philosophy of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy," Donald Robertson discusses the seeming Stoic paradox of being strict mechanical determinists (who believe that all events are caused by preceding events, therefore even decisions we make are predetermined, in a sense) as well as firm believers in free will. The apparent paradox is caused mostly by misunderstanding of the terms involved and their application to the philosophy. But regardless, Robertson shows that the "sage desires only that he should do what he can to the best of his ability, no more and no less, and he accepts success or failure with equal serenity because he concerns himself only with the quality of his actions, and not their results." He quotes Seneca:

"It is in no man's power to have whatever he wants; but he has got it in his power not to wish for what he hasn't got, and cheerfully make the most of the things that do come his way."

Or, as Robertson quotes Epictetus,

"Don't ask things to happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go smoothly."

     This is the idea that Nietzche (a professor of classical languages) labeled "amor fati" - "love of one's fate." This is the idea that kept Stockdale going as a P.O.W. in Viet Nam:

"Was I a victim?Not when I became fully engaged, got into the life of unity with comrades, helping others and being encouraged by them. So many times, I would find myself whispering to myself after an exhilirating wall tap message exchange: 'I am right where I belong; I am right where I was meant to be'."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

On Attitudes To Wrongdoing (From "The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy")

" . . . [C]ontemplation of determinism, the idea that human actions are definitely caused by a complex network of multiple preceding factors, mitigates our anger toward other people and leads us closer to a healthy sense of understanding and forgiveness. We are also more enlightened regarding our practical responses and more inclined to reform than punish wrongdoers. When [the character] Socrates argued in The Republic that the sage wishes to do good even to his enemies, he meant that the sage ought to educate and enlighten others, seeing that as the highest good. That harmonious attitude is the polar opposite of the one that seeks revenge through moralizing punishment. It leads to a sense of generosity and equanimity, and resolves anger, resentment, and contempt."

     This quotation explains quite well why I have always maintained that the sage would rather turn "enemies" into "friends" than to triumph over them by force.