“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
— Marcus Aurelius, philosopher
This episode, “Amor Fati”, or ‘the love of fate’ is borrowed from the Stoic Philosophers of the time period 300 BC in Athens, Greece. We talk about Stoicism and the cardinal virtues of Courage, Wisdom, Justice and Temperance and do a deep dive into what these virtues mean to us and how these can be applied in our own lives. Linkages and crossovers between the Stoic philosophy and other major religions are briefly laid out, and discussion around the similarities of the Tao Te Ching which came from China around the same time.
This encompasses the Yin-Yang symbol and we explain from the Taoist teachings what each of the elements of the symbol suggest and teach. The Tao Te Ching roughly shows the ‘way of the Tao’. Mr. Beard talks about Viktor Frankl and his method of psychiatric therapy known as Logotheraphy, but more specifically Viktor’s experience and survival of the prison camps during the second world war. Viktor’s book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ is a book that at the heart of it describes the four cardinal virtues of the Stoics and how by only focusing on controlling what is objectively and subjectively under your control e.g. your mind and your behaviours in response to objective reality leads to creating a meaningful and purposeful life. These practices are what Viktor believes gave him, and by extension a hand full of others, the strength to survive.
Amor Fati describes the idea that allowing yourself not to be beholden to the fate in life that you experience, but observe what you experience with a love for the natural way of things, and through this conscious, reflective analysis of the experience of life, make decisions that will best serve you devoid of reflexive and emotion-driven reactions to your life experiences.
For each episode, we will highlight the main topic discussed and share a video from YouTube we think is worth watching.
Check out this video on stoicism and how it can be applied to living in the modern world. Massimo Pigliucci is Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York, formerly co-host of the Rationally Speaking Podcast, and formerly the editor in chief for the online magazine Scientia Salon.
Found something interesting discussed in this episode? Chances are, we found it interesting too and we went off and did a bunch of reading online about it.
So why not dive further into the topic! Here are some handy links we think you might like.
Courage: This is the root virtue, without courage none of the other virtues matter. Have the courage to do the right thing, stand up against evil and injustice and stand up for what you believe in.
Wisdom: Quite straight-forwardly, wisdom is knowing what is good, what is bad and what is neither good nor bad. This can mean good actions, thoughts, when is appropriate to act, etc.
Justice: Rather than a legal understanding of justice, in stoic understanding ‘justice’ can be understood as morality, kindness and fairness.
Temperance: Temperance can be understood as moderation, self-discipline or keeping things/actions/thoughts in balance.
Ryan Holiday has a great video explaining the 4 cardinal virtues in more detail.
The Yin Yang symbol represents being – what you experience as a conscious creature. Order and Chaos. Experience will present you with things you do/do not understand. These are representations of the most unchanging elements of being.
Interesting symbolism in its construction: Real/Permanency (in relation to physical existence) e.g the sky, your car, your heart beating in your chest. Paisleys have dots in them. The Taoists recognise that order can rise out of chaos at any time and vice versa. Orderly predictable situation can be cast into chaotic interruption. These are in opposition and a continual dynamic interplay. The way is the line between the two. The optimal position for a human being is then in the middle of the order (too much order = totalitarian, too much chaos = fear and pain). In a word balance.
Click here for more on this fundamental symbol.
Taoism is a philosophical tradition of Chinese origin which emphasises living in harmony with the Tao or ‘the way’. The Tao is a fundamental idea in most Chinese philosophical schools; in Taoism, however, it denotes the principle that is the source, pattern and substance of everything that exists.
Taoism differs from Confucianism by not emphasising rigid rituals and social order, but is similar in the sense that it is a teaching about the various disciplines for achieving “perfection” by becoming one with the unplanned rhythms of the universe. Taoist ethics vary depending on the particular school, but in general tend to emphasise wu wei (action without intention), “naturalness”, simplicity, spontaneity, and the Three Treasures: compassion, frugality and humility.
Mr C. has recently read the book Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu and highly recommends it.
The Zone of Proximal Development refers to the difference between what a learner can do without help and what s/he can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner.
Thus, the term “proximal” refers to those skills that the learner is “close” to mastering. Check out this article from SimplyPsychology which goes into the idea in more detail.
Diogenes the Cynic, was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. He was born in Turkey in the 4th century BC. A controversial figure, his father minted coins for a living, and Diogenes was banished from Sinope when he took to debasement of currency. After being exiled, he moved to Athens and criticized many cultural conventions of the city.
Diogenes made a virtue of poverty. He begged for a living and often slept in a large ceramic jar in the marketplace. He became notorious for his philosophical stunts, such as carrying a lamp during the day, claiming to be looking for an honest man. Diogenes was captured by pirates and sold into slavery. There he passed his philosophy of Cynicism to Crates, who taught it to Zeno of Citium, who fashioned it into the school of Stoicism.
Check out this great Wikipedia article on him, which provides much more information on his life, his philosophical beliefs and many of the public stunts he performed.
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