The Daily Stoic for September 30th, “You Can’t Touch Me”.

“If you lay violent hands on me, you’ll have my body, but my mind will remain with Stilpo.”

ZENO, QUOTED IN DIOGENES LAERTIUS, LIVES OF THE EMINENT PHILOSOPHERS, 7.1.24

“Sticks and stones may break my bones…” I wrote on “Protecting Our Inner Fortress From Fear“, to question whether this dichotomy between mind and body, that stoics also defend, was valid for me.

I doubted back at the time, and I still do. In the most obvious, “Disney”-ish sense of the word, it’s very easy to agree: “Yeah, you know, I’m not Marty McFly,  I don’t care what others say about me”…

You Can’t Touch Me

But it’s not just that. I’m surprised that, having such a naturalist approach to philosophy as they did, stoics put such a strong division between mind and body.

Today’s stoic meditation showcases the example of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter who, wrongly convicted of homicide, spent 20 years in prison.

“…the prison literally existed, and he was physically inside it. But he refused to let his mind be contained by it.”

Even considering that could be true, even during 20 years, when he got out, someday, sooner or later, he is going to realize that he has spent 20 years of his life in prison. 20 years. Our time is the most precious asset

Obviously, at the most superficial level, we can say: “I don’t care about my body, the mind is all that matters”. But Stephen Hopkins, of the most brilliant minds of our time, even if he bravely found a way of keep on communicating, was hampered by his terrible illness and died way sooner than he should have.

Some people may use him as an example of how the mind is superior to the body, and how a mind can blossom even when confined under terrible limitations. But I can’t agree. In a way, his illness deprived us of his knowledge. It prevented his brilliant mind from expressing his genius in his full splendor.

Imagine if, instead of having to type with one finger or pointing with his eyes, he was able to write at full speed, travel the world regularly, and share his knowledge without the problems he had to face…

I still believe that our mind is one of our most important assets, but we are part of a whole… And our body is as important as the rest. Take care of it, because you only have one… And it’s going to be with you until the day you die.

Conclusion

Today’s Daily Stoic, “You Can’t Touch Me”, discusses again the dichotomy between body and mind, affirming that if the mind is all ours, the rest (especially the body) does not matter. I still can’t agree with this view of the world.

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