In this synthesis of ancient wisdom, Macaro reframes the 'good life', and gets us to see the world as it really is and to question the value of the things we desire. The goal is more than happiness: living ethically and placing value on the right things in life.
|Publisher:||Icon Books, Ltd. UK|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
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Whether or not we agree with the Stoic assessment of what is truly good or bad, it cannot be denied that we do often make the mistake of giving too much importance to things that are of little or no value. To avoid this error, we could adopt the method Chrysippus recommended for testing appearances, which involved asking two questions:
1. Is there good or bad at hand?2. Is it appropriate to react?
You start feeling angry about someone being rude to you, for instance. You ask yourself Chrysippus' first question. For a Stoic, the answer to that would be no, because nothing external to us is truly good or bad. It then follows that the answer to the second question would also be no, it is not appropriate to react.
Challenging our perceptions of good and bad is hard. It’s particularly difficult to embrace the view that things like health, life and loved ones should all be indifferents, albeit 'preferred' ones. Some might find it impossible to agree that poverty is not an evil. An advantage of Chrysippus' exercise is that those who are struggling to let go of ‘irrational’ ideas about good and bad can concentrate on the second question. Even if their views are still flawed, they can begin to make progress by moving away from destructive behaviours that are not conducive to virtue. But, for the Stoics, in time we should move on to confronting our incorrect views of good and bad.
If we want to try out Chrysippus' exercise, then we must first question the value of what we’re getting distressed, or excited, about. Sometimes we’ll readily come to see that the issue is trivial. But even if we don’t, we could do with examining our reactions. Often we get carried away by negative emotions that lead us to react in unskilful ways. Even if on reflection we conclude that a response is in order, it’s best to consider calmly how to deal with the situation.