Ain’t Yo Momma’s Handbook Part II

Posted by EMILY

Hope you all enjoyed Friday’s discussion.  Let’s take a step back:  even if you’re not a philosophy fan, you’ve probably heard of the Stoics before in common use.  Hey, look at that guy not saying anything- he’s so brooding and hot!  How Stoic of him to keep all his feelings inside!  Sorry to let you down, ladies, that guy is not Stoic (Sorry, Oz). 


Well, probably not.  If he were, you’d probably not want him anymore.  See, a true Stoic doesn’t have those emotions.  They’d be too destructive to his being.  And here’s the big thing- a true Stoic doesn’t have to ACT Stoic.  The misconception comes from Epictetus’s instructions on how to carry one’s self.  His suggestions are, at all times, to speak little, when necessary.  Don’t indulge in luxuries- they’re really not that important.  Don’t even laugh, if you can help it.  He even asks that you give up the f bombs.  This isn’t such a bad idea when you think about it- speak little, but speak well.  Try not to discuss about the unimportant stuff.   To me, it is evident that this is not the main point of “The Handbook.”  Epictetus cares MUCH less about the external world (e.g. how you act and are perceived) than the internal being (e.g. how you actually feel).  Thus, when involving the sexy brooding, our usage of it is COMPLETELY off the mark.  Though it might seem to be the same externally, it isn’t- you shouldn’t be masking those emotions, you just shouldn’t have them at all.Though it might seem to be the same externally, it isn’t- you shouldn’t be masking those emotions, you just shouldn’t have them at all.

In Part III, you’re going to see how this affects a Stoic during times of grief, a time where emotions run the highest.  How does a Stoic, the utter emblem of detachment, deal with death?  I’m sure the suspense will be killing you, but hang on for Part III!

Published in: on May 17, 2009 at 1:56 PM  Comments (3)  

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  1. […] promised, we’ll pick up where Part II left off:  Stoicism and Grief.  Perhaps the most famous words from Epictetus were his instructions on […]

  2. F., I gotta disagree with you about Oz. I think Oz is a stoic. Angel is the sexy brooder, not Oz. Oz really does let most emotional concerns roll off him and really does react rationally almost all the time. Also, think of that time Willow tried to apologize to him for slightly cheating and he said something like, “You’re apologizing to make yourself feel better and that’s not my problem.” Sounds like a pretty stoic reaction. Devastating also.

    Sure there’s occasionally that moment when Oz’s emotions get the better of him. But adhering to a philosophy doesn’t necessarily mean you embody that philosophy at all times. We’re people, not Platonic ideals. Adhering to a philosophy just means ATTEMPTING to live your life by a set of ideals, ASPIRING to completely embody them even though it’s impossible to be totally successful. If a “true Stoic” is someone who never feels an emotion, then there has never been one. Even Spock gets emotional sometimes.

    • I can see where you are coming from about Oz- but I have to disagree. Just because he was able to say to Willow something logical and true doesn’t make it Stoic- this is where the difference lies. A Stoic by Epictetus’s standards might have LET her apologize, perhaps comforted her, but INWARDLY felt nothing. It wouldn’t bother him- the break up wouldn’t bother him. It is a mere relationship (high school at that)- Stoics don’t get caught up in such things. I don’t think the example you gave is Stoic- I think it’s logical.

      As for the second part of your response, I agree with your interpretation of maybe how Stoicism should be applied- As my post says, diluted, it has some good ideas. But that’s NOT what Epictetus is saying about Stoics. He doesn’t say “try not to moan inwardly”, he says very strongly, “Do not moan inwardly.” And yes, there may never have been nor may there ever be a true Stoic, but that doesn’t mean that Epictetus isn’t advocating a shut down of emotion. Epictetus would argue that it’s NOT impossible. I, on the otherhand, would argue that it is. Oz and Spock may be Stoic by our standards- but it still doesn’t make them Stoic by Epictetus’s.

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