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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

philosophy as therapy

At first glance, in fact, one might wonder if the conceptions of wisdom were really all that different among the schools. All Hellenistic schools seemed to define it in approximately the same terms: first and foremost, as a state of perfect peace of mind. From this viewpoint, philosophy appears as a remedy for human worries, anguish, and misery brought about, for the Cynics, by social constraints and conventions; for the Epicureans, by the quest for false pleasures; for the Stoics, by the pursuit of pleasure and egoistic self interest; and for the Skeptics, by false opinions. Whether or not they laid claim to the Socratic heritage, all Hellenistic philosophers agreed with Socrates that human beings are plunged in misery, anguish, and evil because they exist in ignorance. Evil is to be found not within things, but in the value judgments which people bring to bear upon things. People can therefore be cured of their ills only if they are persuaded to change their value judgments, and in this sense, all these philosophies wanted to be therapeutic. In order to change our value judgments, however, we must make a radical choice to change our entire way of thinking and way of being. This choice is the choice of philosophy, and it is thanks to it that we may obtain inner tranquility and peace of mind.

Pierre Hadot "What is Ancient Philosophy" p. 102
I like this quote in conjunction with this Nietzschean pluralism I posted a while ago.
Being philosophically minded. -- We usually endeavour to acquire a single deportment of feeling, a single attitude of mind towards all the events and situations of life - that above all is what is called being philosophically minded. But for the enrichment of knowledge it may be of more value not to reduce oneself to uniformity in this way, but to listen instead to the gentle voice of each of life's different situations; these will suggest the attitude of mind appropriate to them. Through thus ceasing to treat oneself as a single rigid and unchanging individuum one takes an intelligent interest in the life and being of many others. (HAH, I, 618)
What I really want to say though is this --

Whatever you are after, head straight for it. Don't get caught up in distractions. (false religion/false philosophy/etc.)

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