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Values of the Aggressive 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, 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).

  1. Virtue is the only thing genuinely good (see K. Seddon), and vice is the only thing genuinely bad.

  2. The only things in our power are our beliefs and will.

  3. Virtue and vice are types of acts of will.

  4. Ergo, virtue and vice are in our power.

  5. Ergo, things not in our power are neither good nor bad.

The following seem to be the core value beliefs of the Aggressive 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.


  1. Being in charge is good. Power, authority, and responsibility are good.

    But we are never in complete control of anything external to our own moral characters. Power, authority, and responsibility are not in our power. They are not good.

  2. A traditional power structure, where everyone knows his or her place and the lines of authority are clear is good.

    But a power structure is not in our power. It is not good.

  3. Being self-disciplined is good. Having those in one's charge not follow the rules one has imposed is bad.

    But discipline is not in our power. It is not good. Whether or not those in our charge follow the rules imposed on them is not in our power. It is neither good norr bad.

  4. A practical, pragmatic approach to accomplishing objectives is good.

    But accomplishing objectives is not in our power. It is not good.

  5. Accomplishing goals is good. Allowing anything to distract one from accomplishing one's goals is bad.

    But accomplishing goals is not in our power. It is not good. Distractions are not in our power. They are not bad

  6. Action, adventure, competition and being aggressive and physically assertive are good.

    But activity, adventure, competition, and being aggressive and physically assertive are not within the purview of moral character. They are not good.


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 Sadistic 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 Aggressive 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.





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Key to the Stoic Philosophy of Epictetus