Enchiridion V


Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of things. Thus death is nothing terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death, that it is terrible. When, therefore, we are hindered or disturbed, or grieved, let us never impute it to others, but to ourselves—that is, to our own views. It is the action of an uninstructed person to reproach others for his own misfortunes; of one entering upon instruction, to reproach himself; and one perfectly instructed, to reproach neither others nor himself.

This is an excellent section, challenging and complex in just a few words. There is a great deal to wrestle with here.  


douglas said...

So, I'll poke at this a little. Yes, death is a thing that is, that happens, and there is no escaping it in total. The idea that it is terrible is only within us, that is true. But then all ideas about what is "pleasant" and what is "terrible" are within us. Even the ideas of what is "good" or "evil" are really only within us (in this universe at least). Should we not value that which we manifest, and do we not think that ideas of good and evil are worthwhile and of value even if they may be terrible to experience?

Grim said...

This is related to James’ point about the shortest verse in the Bible. Obviously Jesus’ death was highly traumatic; his experience of execution was far worse than Socrates’. A believing Christian wouldn’t want to say that Jesus got it wrong. One could reason that the incarnation shows that it is proper to suffer in death.

Yet I think the same answer applies: it was proper for Jesus as part of a divine drama that could assume the punishment for the sins of the world. That does not entail that it is right for anyone else. Socrates’ ability to face death with philosophy and courage could still be a better model for we mortals.

Tom said...

Reminds me of Hamlet: "... there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

ymarsakar said...

Now if only no longer human slaves can personally achieve that instead of comprehending it intellectually.