Who has authority?

Suppose he had passed his judgement upon a hypothetical proposition, and declared, ‘I judge the proposition, “if it be day, there is light,” to be false,’ what would have happened to the proposition? Who is being judged here? Who has been condemned? The proposition, or he who is utterly mistaken about it? So who on Earth is this man who has authority to pass such judgement on you?

~ Epictetus

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Skepticism and cynicism

The result of this kind of influence is twofold: one is a skepticism and cynicism towards everything which is said or printed, while the other is a childish belief in anything that a person is told with authority. This combination of cynicism and naïveté is very typical of the modern individual. Its essential result is to discourage him from doing his own thinking and deciding.

~ Erich Fromm from, https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/erich-fromm-think-originally-in-the-modern-age/

Philosophical Skepticism, “is a family of philosophical views that question the possibility of knowledge.” (That’s a quote from the Wikipedia entry. If you want to go deeper, try the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s entry for Skepticism.)

As far as I understand it—your mileage may vary—Fromm, in that quote, wasn’t condemning philosophical skepticism. Rather, and I agree, let’s all condemn the little-s-skepticism; the naivete driven, disbelieve everything, skepticism that turns away from anything it doesn’t understand.

I prefer to turn towards just about anything I don’t yet understand. (See: “Oh. That’s interesting…”) I’m am frequently asking myself: “What is true, and how do I know it’s true?”

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Avoiding unrighteousness

The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; For that runs faster than death. I am old and move slowly, and the slower runner has overtaken me, and my accusers are keen and quick, and the faster runner, who is unrighteousness, has overtaken them. And now I depart hence condemned by you to suffer the penalty of death, and they too go their ways condemned by the truth to suffer the penalty of villainy and wrong; And I must abide by my award—let them abide by theirs.

~ Socrates

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The mind is a fortress

Remember that when it withdraws into itself and finds contentment there, the mind is invulnerable. It does nothing against its will, even if its resistance is irrational. And if its judgement is deliberate and grounded in logic…? The mind without passions is a fortress. No place is more secure. Once we take refuge there we are safe forever. Not to see this is ignorance. To See it and not seek safety means misery.

~ Marcus Aurelius

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Only the present

Don’t let your imagination be crushed by life as a whole. Don’t try to picture everything bad that could possibly happen. Stick with the situation at hand, and ask, “Why is this so unbearable? Why can’t I endure it?” You’ll be embarrassed to answer. Then remind yourself that past and future have no power over you. Only the present—and even that can be minimized. Just mark off its limits. And if your mind tries to claim that it can’t hold out against that… well, then, heap shame upon it.

~ Marcus Aurelius

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The art of living

Philosophy does not promise to secure anything external for man, otherwise it would be admitting something that lies beyond its proper subject-matter. For as the material of the carpenter is wood, and that of statuary bronze, so the subject-matter of the art of living is each person’s own life.

~ Epictetus

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