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Values of the Vigilant 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 Vigilant 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 exploited, harmed, or deceived by others is bad.

    But the actions of others are not in our power. Being exploited, 'harmed', or deceived by others is up to those others. The only real harm we can suffer is to our moral characters and that would be completely up to us. Being exploited, deceived, or having something of ours external to our moral characters harmed, is not bad.

  2. The disloyalty or untrustworthiness of friends or associates is bad. Loyalty is good.

    But the disloyalty or untrustworthiness of others toward us are not in our power. They are not bad. The loyalty of others to us is not in our power. It is not good.

  3. Having information which was confided to others maliciously used against us is bad.

    But the actions of others are not in our power. Information confided to others and used against us is not in our power. Its use against us is not up to us. It is not bad.

  4. Demeaning or threatening remarks or events are bad.

    But demeaning or threatening remarks or events are not in our power. They are not evil.

  5. Insults, injuries, or slights are bad. Attacks on our character or reputation are bad.

    But insults and slights directed at us and injuries to us by others are not in our power. They are not bad. Attacks on our character or reputation are not in our power. They are not bad.

  6. Infidelity by our spouse or sexual partner is bad.

    But the infidelity of our spouse or partner is not in our power. It is 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 Paranoid 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 Vigilant 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