Stoic News

By Dave Kelly

Friday, March 28, 2003

Stoic position on the war

I think that the correct position for Stoics on the war is that we should be neither for nor against it.

As we have seen, this kind of event produces a great deal of passion and disharmony. A conscious attitude of indifference and detachment is required to avoid being caught up in events. It was for something like this reason that Epictetus said:

"Do not demand that things should happen just as you wish, but wish them to happen just as they do, and all will be well" (Handbook, #8, trans. Seddon).

It's natural to try to come to moral judgments on the behavior others. The Islamic opposition calls America "The Great Satan." The U.S. President calls Saddam "evil." Opponents of the war call Bush "evil." But this isn't what *we* should be doing. Our moral responsibility pertains to things within our power. Things not in our power are things that are just happening.

We can be unaware of our own passion by recognizing passion in ourselves only as great emotion. But compulsive attachment to particular points of view is also passion and the source of wrong doing. When we fix our attention on the good or bad behavior of others or on the morality of events we remove ourselves from attention to our own
passion. Yet, "...passions can always be avoided by deciding to withhold our assent to the effect that anything really good or really bad is happening..." (Seddon).


Post a Comment

<< Home