The Daily Stoic for October 8th, “A Higher Pleasure”.
“Yes, getting your wish would have been so nice. But isn’t that exactly why pleasure trips us up? Instead, see if these things might be even nicer—a great soul, freedom, honesty, kindness, saintliness. For there is nothing so pleasing as wisdom itself, when you consider how sure-footed and effortless the works of understanding and knowledge are.”—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 5.9
Recently, I was discussing with my father about my recent illness, and how it has been a real challenge for me at so many levels. Specially, emotionally and intellectually. It has shaken everything I have learned from Stoicism in almost a year.
When explaining that to my father, he mentioned: “Once you decide to adopt a philosophy of life, it puts you to the test.
When he said that, I couldn’t help but thinking: “Damn! I should have chosen hedonism instead!”. 🙂
A Higher Pleasure
Jokes aside, I cannot agree with today’s stoic teaching. Why? Because it keeps on separating human traits into “good” and “bad” ones.
Yes, hedonism is not the answer. Merely looking for pleasure completely misses the point and, in my opinion, turns us into animals. But the other end of the spectrum is also wrong. We are not completely rational beings.
Thus, I cannot agree with this kind of statements:
“The dopamine rush that comes from sex is momentary. So is the pride of an accomplishment or the hearty applause of a crowd. These pleasures are powerful, but they wear off and leave us wanting more. What lasts longer (and remains more within our circle of control)? Wisdom, good character, sobriety, and kindness.”
Well, wisdom is important, so is good character, sobriety and kindness. But also emotions, sex, passion, love, lust and pleasure. That is part of what makes us human. If being stoic means disregarding them, it’s not for me.
Woody Allen famously said: “Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go its pretty damn good”. I definitely agree with him. I am usually wise, calm and kind. Sometimes, I just fucking need to feel something. It’s ok to use your reason to control your emotions, but not to supress them. Don’t you agree?
I can’t agree with today’s Daily Stoic, “A Higher Pleasure”. Disregarding emotions is, in my view, one of the main problems of the stoic philosophy.