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Values of the Sensitive 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 Sensitive 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. Significant interpersonal contact is bad. Criticism, disapproval, and rejection are bad.

    But our experiences are not in our power. Interpersonal contact is not bad. Criticism, disapproval, and rejection depend not on us, but on others. They are not bad.

  2. Being liked is good. Being disliked is bad.

    But being liked and disliked depend on others. They are not in our power. They are not good and bad.

  3. Being shamed and being ridiculed are bad.

    But ridicule directed at us or attempts to shame us are not in our power. They are not evil.

  4. New interpersonal situations are bad.

    But the situations and circumstances we find ourselves in are not in our power. They are not evil.

  5. Being socially adept and personally appealing are good.

    But being socially adept and personally appealing are not in our power. They are not good.

  6. New activities and taking personal risks are bad.

    But activities and situations that present danger are not in our power. They are not bad.

  7. Being criticized or rejected in social situations is bad.

    But criticism and rejection are not in our power. They are not 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 Avoidant 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 Sensitive 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