Values of the Serious Type
Why do people do the things they do? What people believe will benefit them, they judge to be good. What they believe will harm them, they judge to be bad. Their beliefs about what is good and bad constrain them to act as they do (Seddon, 2007, pg. 88).
The Stoic doctrine that things not in our power are neither good nor bad can be deduced from a number of other core Stoic beliefs. (see G. Sterling).
- Virtue is the only thing genuinely good (see K. Seddon), and vice is the only thing genuinely bad.
- The only things in our power are our beliefs and will.
- Virtue and vice are types of acts of will.
- Ergo, virtue and vice are in our power.
- Ergo, things not in our power are neither good nor bad.
The following seem to be the core value beliefs of the Serious type. These beliefs give primary value to external things, things not 'in our power' (2005, pg. 219). Therefore, they are false judgments of what is good and bad.
Generally, the Serious type makes negative false value-judgments of the self, current experience, and the future.
- Things are bad.
But things, specifically circumstances, situations, and events, are not in our power. They are not bad.
- The self is bad.
But the self outside of the will is not in our power. It is not evil.
- His or her lack of talent, ability, qualities, etc. are bad.
But lack of talent, ability, or non-moral qualities is not in our power. It is not bad.
- Current experience and future prospects are bad.
But current experiences and future prospects are not in our power. They are not bad.
- Others, and the behavior of others, are bad.
But others and their behavior are not in our power. They are not bad.
- The future looks bad.
But the future is not in our power. It is not bad.
- Things that they did before are bad.
Things which we did before may have been bad. But things we did before are not now in our power. They are not bad
What we judge to be good, we desire; and what we judge to be bad we fear, or desire to avoid. What we desire, we pursue; and what we fear, we try to avoid. The repeated pursuit of objects of desire and avoidance of objects of fear form vices of character, or dispositions to make particular false value-judgments. The habitual false value-judgments listed above constitute the vices that I believe lie at the core of Depressive personality, or character, disorder.
Making proper use of impressions, which is the core of what could be called Epictetus' self-therapy, consists of detecting our false value-judgments/passions and immediately correcting them. This requires an awareness of what is in our power and what is not in our power (Seddon, 2007, pg. 190).
Needs of the Serious Type
John M. Oldham and Lois B. Morris (1995).
The New Personality Self-Portrait: Why You Think, Work, Love, and Act the
Way You Do.
Rev. ed. New York: Bantam.
Keith Seddon (2005). Epictetus' Handbook and the Tablet of Cebes: Guides to Stoic Living. New York: Routledge.
_________ (2007).Stoic Serenity: A Practical Course on Finding Inner Peace. United Kingdom: Lulu.com.
_________ (2009). Socrates on Virtue and its Sufficiency for Happiness. International Stoic Forum.
Grant Sterling (2005). "Core Stoicism." International Stoic Forum.