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Values of the Devoted 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, pg. 88).

For the Stoics, most people have no knowledge of good and bad (pg. 87). People value as good, things which they believe will benefit them; and they value as bad, things which they believe will harm them. They pursue what they believe will benefit them and and try to avoid what they believe will harm them. But they look mostly to external things for benefit and harm, instead of to themselves. They rely on externals for their happiness, instead of on what is 'up to them', 'belongs to them', is 'in their control' or 'in their power'.

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.

For Stoics, happiness comes through concerning oneself with the things that 'depend on us'. But for individuals of the Devoted type, their happiness literally depends on others, or so they believe.

The following seem to be the core value beliefs of the Devoted 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. Having to make everyday decisions is bad. Having to rely solely on your own judgment is bad. Advice and reassurance from others is good.

    That we have decisions to make is not in our power. It is not bad. Making decisions is in our power. So, having to rely on our own judgment is not bad. The judgments and opinions of other people are not in our power. They are not good. Having others available to make decisions for us is not good. Advice and reassurance are not in our power. They are not good.

  2. Having others assume responsibility for major areas of your life is good. Having to be responsible for oneself is bad.

    But what others do for us is not in our power. It is not good. We are responsible for our own lives. This responsibility is not bad. Trying to transfer resonsibility for ourselves to others is bad.

  3. Losing the support or approval of others is bad.

    But support and approval are not in our power. Losing support and approval is not bad.

  4. Having to initiate projects or do things on your own is bad.

    But our projects and things to be done are not in our power. They are not bad. Fear of initiating projects and doing things on one's own is in our power. It is bad.

  5. Nurturance and support from others is good.

    But nurturance and support from others are not in our power. They are not good.

  6. Being alone is bad.

    But feeling uncomfortable and helpless when alone is in our power. It is bad. Fear of being unable to take care of oneself is in our power. It is bad.

  7. Relationships are good. Care and support from others are good.

    But relationships are not in our power. They are not good. Loss of a relationship is not bad. Care and suppport are not in our power. They are not good. Loss of care and support is not bad.

  8. Being left to take care of yourself is bad. Being without advice, reassurance and support is bad.

    But taking care of ourselves is up to us. Fear of being left to to take care of oneself is in our power. It is bad. Advice, reassurance, and support are not in our power. Being left without them is not bad.

  9. Criticism and disapproval by others is bad.

    But criticism and disapproval are not in our power. They are not bad. Being hurt by criticism or disapproval is in our power. It is bad


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 Dependent 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 Devoted 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