Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sanity Can Be Learned

"Return us to sanity."  but  but ... were we ever sane? The stoics describe a thought system based entirely on logic, reason, but there are no text books any more. There is an order that we must learn this information in, so that it can make sense. Some of the statements made are just totally foreign to modern thought, they do not seem rational, until we realize that the words did not mean quite the same things in modern times as they did a mere 80 years ago, when some of this was translated. English has changed that fast. How can we keep up?

Sanity can be learned. It is a learned skill, a collection of arbitrary knowledge, behaviors, actions, that are time and situation dependent, as defined by our culture, and now the mass media. There main objective is to sell product. There main message is buy, buy, buy. But what if we stop listening to them? And occupy our mind, our directing mind, with understanding this eating / food/ excess desire problem?  What happens to desire? Well, it is within our control, or partly so. Cuing, tempting, baiting may not be, but we have the power of assent or rejection of the mob intelligence, or the action of the masses. It is a learned skill.

The stoics tell us there are things within our power, and some things are not. Within our power (control, responsibility) are our judgements, our desires, our impulses, our interpretation of the input from our senses (judgements), our opinions, our understand of what is right and what is not, (our belief and value system) and from there we can build all the compound beliefs, value, principals, and the like. Start with the simplest form of judgement, assent or rejection of a propitiation, and we have control from there, as we build on that thoughts, concepts, ideas.

Suppose we receive joy from doing something right. Then if we always do right, because it is right to do right, we can live in a state of joy. We need to string those moments of present time into history. Virtue is always right, and if we always do right we should always be in a state of joy. If our thoughts are always virtuous, we should be able to stay in a state of joy. Virtue alone is necessary and sufficient to experience joy, one thought at a time, strung together in a non ending stream to produce tranquility and sanity. Philosophy is a full time undertaking, and thus a way of life.  Sanity can be learned.     

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Stoic Clippings

A Sage will find himself “sick and yet happy, in peril and yet happy, dying and yet happy, in exile and happy, in disgrace and happy.” — Epictetus

Serenity and tranquility have costs; the soul training required.  Happiness is the benefit. Life is a performance art. How good is my current performance? Am I happy happy happy yet?

When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love.

We’re not affected by events, but rather our understanding of events. Once you realize this you realize you have control over by what and how you are affected.

The only good is moral good, or virtue, and the only evil is moral evil, or vice.

Happiness is found exclusively in ethical excellence, or virtue, and in doing what is right.

External things are neither excellence nor evil, they are indifferents.

The only things in our control are inner events such as our judgements, values, beliefs; these in turn direct desires, impulses, emotions; these in turn direct the art of living well.

Emotions arise from false beliefs that externals have value or judgements that I have been wronged, or that I should care about your ignorance.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Training of the human animial mind

The human animal mind is often untamed and untrained in many areas. We, as a culture, often do not want to tamper with the beliefs of others, for what ever reasons. Some of us needed tampering, or training, which is sadly not available. Once we realize this, and seek suitable help, it can be found, but it is not readily available. The Stoics once had such a system, but the christians and god concepts ended that. But it is back.

Training of desire control and impulse control is one such area. In relation to food....

It is not a event or object that effect us but rather what we think of that event.

Our mind, or soul, or self, are all equal concepts of the same thing. The Greeks and modern authors do not like to repeat words, so they have several for the same thing, so ye got a dozen words for one concept. Duh.

Nothing can enter the soul, what our senses report cannot heart us. Senses here may include our mind. We first form an impression, and to that, the untrained mind adds judgements. If we stop before those judgements, that is to say withhold judgement, long enough to analyze what our senses have observed, and consider our values, our reaction to the situation can change. We have control, complete control, over our judgements. We can chose our reaction through our judgements. We can change our values, thereby gain complete control over our opinions, our desires, and our impulses.

Once we realize that there is the space between the impression and a judgement, we can use our values to control our desires and impulses. It is a learned process, a teachable process, and the key to tranquility, virtue, joy, caution, and utility. In Stoic logic, utility trumps pretty.  

Some thing are up to us and some things are not. Up to us are our judgements, our desires, our impulses, and away we go. Until we can recognize the space between event and judgements, we are untrained human animals.  Those few seconds, and the time to relearn correct actions can produce tranquility, all else flows from that.

There is not reason to get mad at things or ignorant people. What ever they did or did not do, be, or whatever is not there fault. They do not know better, or are too distracted to care. We can extend this to unthinking human action, for they are untrained human animals, at least unskilled in that specific area of life. Food science, human food requirements, social responsibility, normal food environments, driving, parking, auto safety, traffic safety are big areas where much public work need to be done to teach the population to a much high skill level for public safety.

More later.      

Friday, March 7, 2014

a belief system based on logic?

Stoicism is a logic based belief system based on logic and reason from first principals more or less. So what are the principles it is based on?

1. Humans are social animals, but not herd like. Each individual is an individual rational or has a rational part, but we are dependent on the remainder of our community for survival. Division of labor, and complexity of the necessary trades, for complex survival, make this essentially true. The insurance company depends on the criminal, as do the police, lawyers, and the court and prison system. It not criminal, the improper actions of others, violation of arbitrary safety rules, or revenue generation rules (eg. slow speed limits on main street, Beaumont, with the ever present photo radar).

To make this work, we all must get along through a unwritten social contract. But then comes traffic, and at aggressive drivers, psychopathic, and sociopaths... 1/2 SD of the population, 1 in 7. Now what?

2. The ultimate human goal is happiness, tranquility and no mental suffering; not fame, fortune, or some other ego thing. This is up one on Buddhism, there is a thought system to end suffering. When we are through all this, we have covered all the ground Buddhism covers, but have not need to meditate to reach the same conclusions that you may reach through meditation. If you which to meditate on this, please do so. These can be reached through a belief system, living in a virtuous manner, living in concordance with nature, human nature, and our personal nature, and adopting a ration process to our thinking process.

In effect we go from being a wild untrained human to a trained human, trained to think in a logical systematic manner in respect to thinking, feeling, behaving, or if you prefer, social, philosophically, psychologically, emotionally, and physically. Ever move, decision, judgement, desire, impulse, opinion will need to be reviewed, going forward knowing that we are right.

It yields such a freedom and power, yet is humble, wise, appropriate and liberating.

More later.    


Monday, March 3, 2014

Stoicism - a potential solution to desire

Quote form Stoicism by John Sellars

"We have built up a large number of bad habits that we must overcome if we are to make genuine philosophical progress. That is why we can acknowledge one course of action to be the best, and yet follow another. The task for this second stage, then, is to habituate the soul so that one's consciously chosen philosophical beliefs can shape one's unconscious habits, and so determine one's everyday behavior. This process is often presented in terms of habituation and digestion."

This is the process of dyeing the soul a new color. We must come to desire what is correct. I must come to desire to not eat beyond plan.

Sunday, March 2, 2014