Thursday, March 09, 2023

Stoics and empathy

Epictetus’s answer [to a question about grieving] eliminates true empathy as a possibility within the philosophical life. The Sage's inner security must not falter in the face of that which might disturb him (tarassein).

This does not mean, however, that the Sage cannot appreciate the gifts Providence brings his way, or exhibit affection toward wife or children; indeed, Socrates himself quite clearly “loved his own children.” Yet he loved them as a “free man who remember[ed] that it is first necessary to be a friend to the gods”—which is to say that Socrates’ “love” was free of pathos; it was an affection shaped by reasonable judgments about the mortality of his offspring (Disc. 3.24.59–60).—One True Life: The Stoics and Early Christians as Rival Traditions, 55

<idle musing>
Sounds pretty depressing to me. You can't truly love if you hold your emotions that tightly in check. Part of love is sharing in the joys and griefs of those you love, which includes grieving with those who grieve—but I'm coming at it from a Christian viewpoint, which just highlights the point that Rowe is making: You can't truly understand a different philosophical tradition without becoming part of it.
</idle musing>

No comments: