Friday, March 29, 2013

Translation - Interpretation Issues

Reading the Stoics creates some interesting thoughts, concepts, and mental gymnastics, considering there are multiple translations and then there are interpretations.

Consider Epictetius Enchiridion 1, which in my crude understanding, based on Penguin Classics, says we are responsible for our own judgements, impulses, desires, aversions, decisions, and mental faculties. We are not responsible for anything we do not control. Simple, while in Irving's Stoic Joy, he, a Ph D. in philosophy, attributes Epictetus of saying we have control, and then goes on to say he is not in agreement, entirely (pg 90). Irving missed the difference between responsibility and control. We can influence and grow our desires, opinions, etc, but cannot simply dictate them to ourselves.

Desire is a big issue for me, in that appetite is a desire that I must not grow, in fact, must reduce. I cannot want to eat something and want to lose weight at the same time. These are mutually exclusive.

Just as I cannot listen and follow multiple experts, I cannot have a desire to eat and lose weight. As I move from the emotional toward rational, I need to prune my desires.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Is overeating just as simple as too much desire? Musonius Rufus suggests that is the problem.
Five out of seven of the deadly sins are too much desire then. The other two are the extremeness of ego. Go figure.
Does it make any difference if it really is a desire issue? Then one must aim at reduction of the desire in general, rather than not eating. I do not know at this point. More exploring around in the world of the mind and desires.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


As a food addict, I am questioning if this whole problem is not one of OCPD, just aimed at food.  the more I explore OCPD, and it's treatment, the stoics, philosophy, the more it seems to be rolled into one brain problem, that has different symptoms and different objects of obsessive compulsive behaviours. When we take Jeffrey M Schwartz's 4 step, and overlay those onto the 12 steps, the 12 step program provides a subject for Schwartz 3 step.

It looks to me that Schwartz takes a harmful obsession-compulsion and turns that obsession onto some other target.    

Michael points out one more site to explore

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Epictetus book II, 1-26

While reading Epictetus, book II, 1, sentence 26, the though struck me that overcoming overeating compulsion, which I have suffered from my entire life, is much like a slave gaining freedom. We experience the freedom from bondage, and are elated with joy, enthusiasm, and hope, without a clue what is about to hit us. The next day or soon, we are faced with the reality of what we do not know, and realize what is about to hit us. Now we need to learn to live, free from this bondage. This is not dissimilar to what the freed slaves must have experienced after the US Civil War, where they went from fed slaves to starving freeman overnight.

I had to learn about food, what food really is, and what food is not. Society has produced the wrong information, and the media reported all wrong, untrue information. I had to learn to cook, and what to cook so that I could eat a reasonable diet, free of addictive foods, and/or appetite stimulating foods. A diet that produce satiation and satiety until the next meal is required for reasonable life.

I had to learn a new way of thinking, to avoid those society created traps that exist for us compulsive overeaters, and method to overcome the ignorance of others about the problem. It is not just ignorance, for that would be easy to deal with, but the utter disbelief of some that food is the problem.

What is a child? Ignorance and inexperience. (Epictetus II, 1, 16) With respect to food and real food issues, that is where I started, and where most people are at today.

I had to learn a new way of thinking, and stumbled across the Stoics. But what do I know?

Friday, March 8, 2013


Enthusiasm was the missing ingredient in the last few meetings. It is missing in the lives of so many. Life has become, judging from the stories, an endurance challenge, not something joyful. It is joy and enthusiasm that makes life worth living.

As Socrates stated, an unanalysed life is not worth living, but the analysis should check for enthusiasm early on in the analysis process. We humans need a goal or a direction in our life. Work is all fine, it prevents boredom, vices, and needs, but so often it is not enjoyed, only endured for the money. And then there was retirement. Plans, well not really, but a few things I wanted to try. Oh well, I now am faced with the obvious, how does one maintain enthusiasm?

The first is a direction that I feel some passion for, what ever that will look like.  Like Socrates horses, Passion and Reason, controlled by the reigns of beliefs and values, to avoid the ditches of vice and desire, down the road of Fortune on the way to Destiny.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

On No Control

The highest evolved part of humans is our ability to reason; all else just supports the organism that has this ability. That is human nature. The animal nature is emotional, violent, angry, resentful, etc.  It is reason that we should be trying to develop. The path to happiness is by letting go of desires beyond our control, and we control only our will and some of the time, a few volitions. We do not have direct control of passion and reason. We can implant new beliefs and values.  Aka "wheat is not human food, but pig food. It is only suitable for human food if adequately processed ... through a pig and converted to bacon."

"It is not the event that upsets us but the way we think about them" allows our thinking to change to eliminate whole issues. That realization ties the 12 step, stoicism, buddhism, and the like together, in one aim. The underling concept is that passion and reason are both controlled by beliefs and values. By changing our beliefs and values, we can control our passion and reason. Cravings, aka desire is an expression of appetites and volition's, are driven by passion and reason.

To rerun that, control our beliefs and values (within our control), passion and reason is controlled. Control passion and reason, our desires and cravings are controlled, aka recovery.