Guys, I need assistance! I'm utterly lost and confused. I don't know what to do.
For the past few weeks, I did nothing except scrolling through here at the stoic forum and reading about stoicism, and trying to learn. I'm frustrated and as I seem to go back to my older ways of comparing myself to others as a means of motivation to work. But I do realize that is not the best way to live, Please help me through this.
Here's what I think I understand about stoicism:
Some things are in our control and some are out of our control. Things in our control are our opinions, our actions, our intentions, etc. Other things such as health, wealth, and reputation are not in our control.
Virtue is the only good and vice is the only bad.
Things outside our control are classified into preferred indifferent and dispreferred indifferently. Preferred indifference includes health, wealth, reputation, pleasure, etc. Dispreferred indifferent a are poverty, disease, pain, etc.
Indifference is neither good nor bad, virtue is the only good and vice is the only bad.
We can choose preferred indifference over dispreferred indifference if we can be virtuous in doing so.
Now my unanswered questions are:
If health, wealth, reputation and pleasure are all preferred indifference, why do people here encourage working towards health and wealth but discourage pursuing pleasure and reputation? How should I choose between preferred indifference?
I have enough money to feed myself throughout my life and I own a house( but nothing more than that, I can not afford to get married and have kids but since marriage is an "indifference" ) why should I work?
I can virtuously watch movies for hours everyday, why should I choose to work towards wealth ( why should I choose one preferred indifferent over other)?
Why fame shouldn't be a motivating factor? ( As pursuing it is usually discouraged here) I can understand fame is out of my control but so are wealth and health.
I'm completely open to any criticism, the only thing I want is a better understanding of stoicism to help me live a good life.
My answers in the same order as your questions above:
You should work towards virtue by choosing virtuous values, goals, etc, and making them happen in your life. If you should end up famous or rich along the way: Lucky you. If not: You didn't miss a thing.
If you do not need to work for a living and there is no virtue in your line of work, there is indeed no point in continuing that line of work. You should however find a way to spend your time with the pursuit of virtue, e.g. a work that gives you the opportunity to live according to your virtuous values or to help others to free themselves of a life full of vice.
Why spend your day pursuing a preferrable indifferent (pleasure) if you can spend it pursuing virtue? The question is not "how to decide between indifferent?" It is, "How to put virtue above those indifferent?"
In my opinion fame and wealth, but especially fame leads to becoming more and more dependent on the opinion of other people, which is completely out of our control. Therefore, by pursuing fame you surrender control over your life to others. This is true for most indifferent, but I think fame is the most prominent example of this mechanism.
Hope this helps, looking forward to discussion and criticism.
A1. Yes. Yes. No. Your actions dictate all of those things. If you don't work you don't make money, if you don't take care of your body you die, if you do bad things you get a bad reputation. The things out of your control are only the things that someone else has in theirs, that means if it effects you, you gave them the power to effect you.
A2. Virtues and vices are the same thing as good and evil, they are subjective. You can praise a man I would deem vile for tge same reasons. But you should only pursue the things you find Virtuous, and moderate your vices.
A3. Stop reading the flowery shit, look at it in its simplest. Marcus told you to burn meditations at the beginning if you thought it made you smart. Stop quoting, start examining because to me you don't understand square one so I recommend taking a step back and trying from a different point of attack.
A4. You're repeating yourself, also good and bad are words not facts.
A5. Ya, we can choose to do things we don't like for good reasons, like if you're starving and choose to sell plasma over your shirt.
Q1. If they are telling you what to do or think then you shouldn't be listening to them. If you value a good reputation then be the virtuous man you wish others to see you as, whatever that means. But there is no harm in caring for your health, or having money to support yourself.
Q2. You can afford to get married, it's not expensive. It's the idea of tge wedding in your head that is expensive, you don't need that. If you want find a partner who wants to be with you and meshes with your vibe. Q2.1. Why should you work, because letting yourself rot isn't something that most people see as a virtuous ideal, and struggle to tell you how to move when you want direction not guidance.
Q3. Because one allows you to obtain status that can be seen as a beneficial lateral movement up the social ladder, while the other is repressed and seen as a hindrance to even common society.
Q4. Because wanting to be famous is not the same as having earned your reputation. Also I will say this as many times as you say that lie. You can have control over your health, maybe not stopping every disease, or injury but you can control it. You can control your money, as you choose how to earn it.
The meaning you want in your life is not in chasing pleasure. Meaning comes from taking responsibility for our lives. Stoicism is not magical thinking like some new-age silliness, it's a plan of action. You are supposed to DO Stoicism not just think about it. You build virtue by acting virtuously when you encounter difficulties in life. If you are not encountering difficulties, then you are not really living. It sounds like you have enough of a grounding in the philosophy to start implementing it. Sitting around watching porn is meaningless. It is not what you were meant to do. It sounds like you have the freedom to pursue whatever you want to do. That is a great luxury. At the end of your life and you look back over it, you will have wanted your life to have meant something. Live until you die, don't just exist until you die.
No one can tell you what will give your life meaning, that is your first adventure, to determine that purpose. Start your adventure today. Write down at least 3 things you can do to improve yourself as an ethical person. Then do them. They may be big things or they may be small things, but whatever they are, just do them. Rinse and repeat this. Put yourself in order, then put your immediate surroundings in order, then expand from there. Pay attention to what excites you or gives you a sense of satisfaction. That will be your purpose.
I think you need to think more about your motivations. Why do you want fame? What will that get you?
Preferred indifferents are better described as nice to haves, but not need to haves. You don't need fame to be content and virtuous. You can be destitute with a terminal illness having never known physical love and still be a virtuous, happy person.
But Stoicism is also not about just yourself. A central tenet is about cosmopolitanism, the concept that you are no more important and of no lesser or greater value than anyone else in the universe. A virtuous person takes that knowledge and recognizes that living in service to others is both in your own interest and in the interest of the common good. It is virtuous in its own right.
A better goal, then, might be to pursue public service or become a philanthropist or start a charity or work for a nonprofit with a good mission. Then, if fame comes, great. But if not, you've still done good, earned a living, and pursued virtue, rather than fame for its own sake.
This is a fair question. Many preferred indifferents, while not necessary to a good life, make living a good (i.e. virtuous) life easier. Think about it from the perspective of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. A person struggling to afford food, water, and shelter are much more likely to turn to non-virtuous means to secure those indifferents. Being in a struggle or survival state just makes it harder to be virtuous. By lifting these people out of poverty, you're presenting them the opportunity to grow into more virtuous individuals who can then contribute to society in their own virtuous ways.
We should pursue indifferents only to lay a better foundation for living a virtuous life. While it's technically possible to be a good Stoic while impoverished or in some other dispreferred state of being, it is difficult.