On Reason

Simple Stoic Advice

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The beautiful thing about Stoic philosophy is the advice contained within it is just as applicable today as it was when it was first written all those many years ago. We can learn a great deal from interpreting the advice provided and using it to our advantage as we go throughout our own lives.

Today’s quote comes to us courtesy of Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 12.26:

Quote

“What links one human being to all humans: not blood, or birth, but mind.”

Advice

We’re different from animals as we possess conscious awareness and the ability to use reason and logic upon command.

In the book Sapians by Yuval Noah Harari, he describes how without our ability to “imagine”, nothing within civilization would exist. It is through the collective imagination of all humans and the buy-in of such creation that have transpired, that societies functions how it does. We buy into the civilizations we live in because it is a conscious understanding of terms.

Whereas certain hierarchies are formed in our chimpanzee cousins, our lives are much more complicated and layered. We’ve created language and ways to communicate with one another. We’ve created full societies. We’ve created ways to trust one another outside of the need for survival (such as money according to Harari).

We hold the ability to consciously reason and think through problems. Our reasoning helps us to reframe problems and check the judgments we are placing on a situation.

Our reasoning helps us to not only observe what is before us but also use logic to make deductions, change perspective, and come to conclusions, sometimes different than those of our neighbors.

Epictetus points out this ability stating:

“In every undertaking, examine its antecedents and their consequences, and only then proceed to the act itself. If you don’t do that, you will start enthusiastically, because you have not thought about any of the next stages; then, when difficulties appear, you will give up and be put to shame.”

Our minds are the vehicles to our emotions. Without properly understanding this, we risk losing control.

Epictetus advises the following which we should all keep in mind:

“In all circumstances keep in mind to turn in to yourself and ask what resources you have for dealing with these things.”

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