Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Chance Of Living

There you are mistaken: a man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong - acting the part of a good man or of a bad.

Wherefore, O judges, be of good cheer about death, and know this of a truth - that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death. He and his are not neglected by the gods; nor has my own approaching end happened by mere chance. But I see clearly that to die and be released was better for me; and therefore the oracle gave no sign. For which reason also, I am not angry with my accusers, or my condemners; they have done me no harm, although neither of them meant to do me any good; and for this I may gently blame them.

A little taste of Plato's Apology before my next Stoicism post.  It's not explicitly a Stoic text, but if you (mis)read it in the context of Epictetus and other Stoics you can explain some of the more difficult bits.  Here's the thing in full - it's genuine philosophical heroism and, on the off-chance you haven't read it, well worth a look.


  1. By contrast, here's Plato as well:

    "'I was once present when the poet was asked by someone, "Sophocles, how are you with sex? Can you still have intercourse with a woman?' 'Silence, man,' he said. 'Most joyfully did I escape it, as though I had run away from a sort of frenzied and savage master.' I thought at the time that he had spoken well and I still do.'" Plato, The Republic, Book 1 at 329c

    Uh, so here's the moral choice: which is better: standing around with one's pals talking about the virtues of not being wedded to an earthly existence or getting laid?

    Speaking from my most philosophical perspective, I'd choose getting laid any day!

  2. No fair! You can't put the level happiness of Stoicism in a comparison with only the good parts of non-Stoicism. Sure, getting laid is better than meditation, but meditation is a whole lot better than breaking up.

    You're talking like non-Stoics are going around getting laid constantly and not much else - hey, if that was the other option, I might abandon my Stoicism myself.

  3. You've made a good point here and I'll concede it.

    I just couldn't resist offering that particular passage from The Republic, which is my favorite quotation from Plato.