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Values of the Idiosyncratic 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).

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 Idiosyncratic 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. Self-direction and independence are good. Close relationships are bad.

    But self-direction and independence are not in our power. They are not good. Relationships are not in our power. They are not bad.

  2. Convention is bad. An interesting, unusual, and eccentric lifestyle is good.

    But convention is not in our power. It is not evil. Our lifestyle is not in our power. An eccentric lifestyle is not good.

  3. Anything of the occult, extrasensory, or supernatural is good.

    But the occult, the extrasensory, and the supernatural are not in our power. They are not good.

  4. One's own feelings and belief systems are good.

    But a particular world view or approach to life is not in our power. It is not good.

  5. Abstract and speculative thinking are good.

    But matters outside the purview of moral character are neither good nor bad.

  6. Being the object of attention of others is bad. The reactions of others to them are good or bad.

    But others' attention to us is up to them. It is not in our power. It is not evil. The reactions of others are not in our power. They are neither good nor evil.


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 Schizotypal 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 Idiosyncratic 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