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Values of the Self-Confident 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 Self-Confident 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. Achievement and talents are good. Personal importance is good.

    But achievement, talent, and personal importance are not in our power. They are not good.

  2. Success, power, brilliance, beauty, and ideal love are good.

    But success, power, brilliance, beauty, and ideal love are not in our power. They are not good.

  3. Being "special" and unique are good. Having association with other special or high-status people (or institutions) is good.

    But being thought to be "special" and unique is not in our power. It is not good. Being unique is not in our power. It is not good. "Special" or high-status people or institutions are not in our power. They are not good. Association with such individuals or institutions is not in our power. It is not good.

  4. Being the object of admiration is good.

    But being the object of admiration is not in our power. It is not good.

  5. Favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations is good.

    But favorable treatment and compliance with our expectations are not in our power. They are not good.

  6. Others are good when they can be used to achieve his or her own ends.

    But others are not in our power no matter of what use they are to us. They are not good.

  7. Empathy is bad. The feelings and needs of others are bad.

    But the feelings and needs of others are not in our power. They are not good.

  8. Being envied by others is good.

    But the envy others have of us is not in our power. It is not good or bad.

  9. Importance, status, and prestige are good.

    But importance, status, and prestige are not in our power. 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 Narcissistic 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 Self-Confident 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. 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