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Friday Foolosophy

Old 01-25-18, 06:56 PM
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Friday Foolosophy



(A foolhardy but totally serious attempt to discuss philosophy, learn, and have fun…)

READ BEFORE POSTING! (Play nice, or this won’t last long!)

1. NO POLITICS AND NO RELIGION, EVER! There is plenty of room left to discuss: ethics, logic, physics or metaphysics. Go to P+R if you want to fight. Come here if you want to learn, and always show respect to others trying to learn.

2. Each Friday, an appointed moderator will post a topic for discussion. It could be a single sentence, or an entire work or school of philosophy. Classic or modern philosophers are fair game, or you could even give your own original ideas. Guide us into something useful, manageable and interesting. The rest of us should try to address the topic, but we can go wherever the discussion takes us.

3. The moderator will choose someone to be the moderator the following week. Be sure the one you pick is ready to lead; see the list below. An asterisk shows each time that person has led, so try to spread it around.

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Possible moderators: (Mention that you are willing in a post, or send a PM, and we will put you on the list.)

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Resources: (post or send a PM if you want to add something)

https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/bookshelf/57 <lots of free e-books

https://www.phil.cam.ac.uk/library/ebooks <free e-books from Cambridge

The Internet Classics Archive | Browse <free classics from MIT

https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...rse+philosophy <"Crash Course Philosophy"

https://www.youtube.com/user/gbisadler <University philosophy classes; very easy to follow
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Old 01-25-18, 06:57 PM
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Friday, 1/26/2018

Key concept from “The Enchiridion”, By Epictetus,135 A.D.

The Internet Classics Archive | The Enchiridion by Epictetus <the full work

the key concept>“Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.

The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free, and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you not be harmed...”

-----------------------------------------------------------------

My take, and more quotes from "the Enchiridion"> So, this bit above seems to be the key concept in this work, and perhaps the keystone of Stoic philosophy. It can be found in other philosophy, stated in other ways. It seems it also helps drive “cognitive behavioral therapy”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognit...sophical_roots

"...Stoic philosophers, particularly Epictetus, believed logic could be used to identify and discard false beliefs that lead to destructive emotions, which has influenced the way modern cognitive-behavioral therapists identify cognitive distortions that contribute to depression and anxiety..."

The Stoics took the concept to its logical (?) conclusion. Things outside your own control include most of the outside world, the actions and attitudes of others, illness, injury, and even death, and they should not concern you much. Epictetus even considered himself free when he was a slave.



“…Sickness is a hindrance to the body, but not to your ability to choose, unless that is your choice. Lameness is a hindrance to the leg, but not to your ability to choose. Say this to yourself with regard to everything that happens, then you will see such obstacles as hindrances to something else, but not to yourself…”

Whatever the outside world forced upon him, it could not control his attitude, his thoughts, or his decision to choose to be happy.

Your attitude drives your interpretation of events and your reactions, and this work is a call to ‘grow up’ without the fear that doing so must be dismal.



“…The condition and characteristic of a vulgar person, is, that he never expects either benefit or hurt from himself, but from externals. The condition and characteristic of a philosopher is, that he expects all hurt and benefit from himself…”

When you leave for work and hit the highway, you should know the odds that someone will cut in front of you, tailgate, or block your progress. It is not a surprise when viewed in that light, so it should not upset you. Further, you should know that the offending driver probably saw his actions differently.



“…When any person harms you, or speaks badly of you, remember that he acts or speaks from a supposition of its being his duty. Now, it is not possible that he should follow what appears right to you, but what appears so to himself. Therefore, if he judges from a wrong appearance, he is the person hurt…”

The opinions of others are also outside your control, and therefore should not distress you. Don’t bother about praise or ridicule if you know you are doing your best with an eye for justice.



“…If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by anyone who happens to verbally attack you?...”



Stoics thought virtue was sufficient for happiness. Follow the four virtues: wisdom, justice, courage, and temperance, and you should be able to “sleep the sleep of the just.” Maybe virtue really is its own reward.

“…When you do anything from a clear judgment that it ought to be done, never shun the being seen to do it, even though the world should make a wrong supposition about it; for, if you don't act right, shun the action itself; but, if you do, why are you afraid of those who censure you wrongly?...”



Don’t desire too much, but never something outside your control. Don’t attach your happiness to things outside your control, and you will not be disappointed by events.

“…You may be unconquerable, if you enter into no combat in which it is not in your own control to conquer…”



I hope I was able to capture the point and present it in an understandable way. I think it’s a rare bit of philosophy which is easily understood, seems self-evidently true, and is easy to take to heart. Those who adopt it seem destined to greatly reduce anxiety, depression, and angst in their lives. They should become a better neighbor to the rest of the world in the process, too. Imagine anyone who’s been a nuisance to you. If they took on the Stoic attitude, they would be unlikely to disturb you again. Or, should you have allowed their actions to be a burden to you in the first place?

I look forward to the thoughts of the other foolosophers.



Let’s get rolling.
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Old 01-26-18, 05:36 PM
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Not locked yet: maybe the topic does not appeal to anyone?
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Old 01-26-18, 06:41 PM
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plato sounds similar to play-doh
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Old 01-26-18, 09:07 PM
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Gott ist tot. So said Nietzsche. He may as well have thrown in, Philosophie. In the end, what does it all mean or matter? It's all just so much Fake News.

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Old 01-26-18, 09:58 PM
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I enjoyed the read! Still gotta process most of it. Can't think of any counter points yet just agreement.

A "sayism" I thought of was "Those that mind, don't matter. Those that matter, don't mind."

The author (millennia' ago) style, voice? seems to be from someone who has fought a good deal for what he has. Seeing he was a slave makes sense. This also reminds me of quips from major religions I'm familiar with. The whole analysis of ones self and place in the world remind me of buddhist ideas/writings, shedding excess and turning the other cheek to those that attempt to hurt reminds me of christian writing. Of course I've gone and violated the rules a little but I'm just pointing out this is a theme that seems prevalent throughout time/cultures that I have learned about.
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Old 01-27-18, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by GrainBrain View Post
Can't think of any counter points yet just agreement.
Well, it is not an argument based on strong evidence or logic. It's more intuitive. At best, I gave some weak inductive reasoning, based on the implication that cognitive behavioral theory works, and is powered by the Stoic mindset. There is a Vulcan subset of people that immediately discard anything without a mathematical or logical proof attached. Perhaps evidence could be offered that possessions do make people happier, for example.

I suspect the rebuttal would tend to be as intuitive as the presentation, though.


You could try to make the case that detaching yourself from the world allows tyrants to take control. Ignoring the opinions of others could make you something of a freak in the extreme, and isolate you from the benefits of society. Maybe trying to live a virtuous life means you don't get your 'fair share'.

Lots of artsy types would say it's better to be a happy freak than a miserable conformist, but they can't prove it. Stoics might 'live and let live' for the most part, though I don't think it means sitting still in the face of real injustice, like racism. I don't think the Stoics would be doormats, but they might be hermits or weirdos. Self reported happiness suffers from some strong bias, too. If I set off on a path where my goal is happiness, perhaps I am inclined to report it is working rather than admit I failed.

In short, this seems like one of those cases where you accept something without being able to prove it, which is often a dangerous slippery slope. I still agree strongly with Epictetus, and I think most people could benefit greatly from his insight, but it's not hard to argue against him.
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Old 01-27-18, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Scarbo View Post
Gott ist tot. So said Nietzsche. He may as well have thrown in, Philosophie. In the end, what does it all mean or matter? It's all just so much Fake News.
I suppose no philosophy has any power the individual does not cede to it. But, it has often defined culture and civilization in the past. Maybe its power is diminished today, or you could say we are being driven, perhaps in the wrong direction, by logic without meaning. Philosophy still appeals to those struggling to attach meaning to their lives, though.

In this particular case, Stoic ideas have shown real world benefits through cognitive behavioral therapy. Attitude does influence outcome.

Philosophy does not transfer well from one person to the other, though. If it works for you, you will probably 'get it' right off. If not, nobody is likely to convince you. It has appeal as a diversion, if nothing else.
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Old 01-29-18, 08:51 AM
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Well. it seems we were much more interesting in talking about talking about philosophy than in talking about philosophy.

We need someone to step up and lead us next week. Volunteer soon, or you might be stuck with more of my nonsense.
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Old 01-29-18, 09:13 AM
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In fairness, Friday isn't the easiest day, and it isn't at all clear what is being presented or asked about in post #2.
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Old 01-29-18, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
In fairness, Friday isn't the easiest day, and it isn't at all clear what is being presented or asked about in post #2.
I'm up to moving the day if that is the consensus; majority rules. But you can start or reply when it suits you; I posted on Thursday because I had plans for Friday.

I was afraid the topic was too easy! Let me re-state:

Much anxiety, stress and depression in the world has the root cause of faulty thinking. Unhappy people mistakenly attach their happiness to things outside their control, like possessions they want, events they wish to happen, or the opinions of other people. As these external forces are outside their control, they will inevitably be disappointed in part or in whole. This can lead to a spiral that ends in depression, as they wrongly perceive that bad things are happening to them, and they are unable to break out of the cycle.

Taking things to the other extreme can lead to a zen state of tranquility in the face of any adversity. Desire only those things which it is in your control to get, and you need never be disappointed. You need not be upset if someone speaks poorly of you, if you assume that they act from their own perception, which is not in your control. If it rains, or your football team loses, or you get cancer, these things are all predictable and outside your control. They need not upset you unless you choose to let them.

The entire work is not long at all if you want to read it and give your thoughts:

The Internet Classics Archive | The Enchiridion by Epictetus

If you'd rather I try to sum it all up in one quick shot, perhaps this:

“…The condition and characteristic of a vulgar person, is, that he never expects either benefit or hurt from himself, but from externals. The condition and characteristic of a philosopher is, that he expects all hurt and benefit from himself…”
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Old 01-29-18, 10:54 AM
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Much better formulation.

I had a choice between a pre-socratics course and one on Hegel and Heidegger, during my final year in college. I opted for the pre-socratics. It was much more enjoyable.

I'll be back ... I've got a big stack of grant proposals I am reviewing with a rapidly approaching (Friday) deadline.
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Old 01-29-18, 11:07 AM
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Plato's cave

Escape from Plato's Cave - Existential Comics
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Old 01-29-18, 04:30 PM
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Hmmm,

I'm not convinced this notion is self-evidently true, that people always are fully in control of themselves. What of obsessive behavior? What of habits you're not aware of? Would those fall into a category of "you haven't learned well enough what is you/under your control vs not"?

Also, this reminds me of the Buddhist (or is it Hindu?) notion of learning how not to desire anything, so desire cannot control you. Or is this similar in that it seeks to avoid being controlled by desire (etc) not by deciding (learning? pretending?) it's not real/actual/ultimate/meaningful, but rather by understanding it fully/properly?

It does ring true to me though, that a great way to reduce anxiety, is to stop worrying about things you can't control. I've thought that for a long time, and I'm pretty good at it.
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Old 01-29-18, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Much better formulation.
Agreed. I wasn't sure if I over or under-explained it the first time. The concepts are not tough, but my presentation could have been better.

The source is only like 10 pages if people wish to respond directly to Epictetus.
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Old 01-29-18, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg View Post
LOL "Did I mention he's a karate expert? 'Cause that's kind of important..."

I'm curious if anyone thinks they know the point Plato was trying to make, or is it open to interpretation? Does the cave simply represent the limitations of the senses, or is it supposed to symbolize religion, society, tradition, prejudice...? Does the outside world represent philosophy, science, knowledge???

Seems like enough people have been persecuted throughout history for trying to seek the truth. Sort of a hard core version of "Emperor's New Clothes"?
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Old 01-29-18, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
Hmmm,

I'm not convinced this notion is self-evidently true, that people always are fully in control of themselves. What of obsessive behavior? What of habits you're not aware of? Would those fall into a category of "you haven't learned well enough what is you/under your control vs not"?
I can't say I'm an expert, but I think it is more of a goal you continue to reach for than a destination you arrive at. You approach tranquility by keeping negative emotions in check.

https://www.stoicism.ca/2013/09/joyful-tranquility/

(edit-I should add that what I thought self-evident was that keeping negative emotions in check was a valid way to reduce anxiety and stress. Avoiding attaching your happiness to things outside your control should help you limit disappointments. I don't think it is self-evident that all of us can do it, or that anyone can do it to perfection.)
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Old 01-30-18, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
LOL "Did I mention he's a karate expert? 'Cause that's kind of important..."

I'm curious if anyone thinks they know the point Plato was trying to make, or is it open to interpretation? Does the cave simply represent the limitations of the senses, or is it supposed to symbolize religion, society, tradition, prejudice...? Does the outside world represent philosophy, science, knowledge???

Seems like enough people have been persecuted throughout history for trying to seek the truth. Sort of a hard core version of "Emperor's New Clothes"?
For me the simplest interpretation is just that people know what they've always known until they are exposed to something different.

I really like Kuhn's 'structure of scientific revolutions' so to me the 'normal paradigm' is in the cave and periodically someone breaks out of the cave, and actually convinces other people to join him/her, and then you have a paradigm shift.*

Kuhn and Plato never discuss this but, of course, the shifted paradigm is just another cave that most of the escapees are just as happy to acclimate themselves to.


*although in practice, scientific paradigms mostly shift when the old school retires/dies; a cave analogy then would be only enough people escaping to repopulate the next cave, and leaving everyone else behind to age/die. In genetic terms that would lead to a bottleneck of diversity founding the new cave population.
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Old 01-30-18, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
I can't say I'm an expert, but I think it is more of a goal you continue to reach for than a destination you arrive at. You approach tranquility by keeping negative emotions in check.

https://www.stoicism.ca/2013/09/joyful-tranquility/

(edit-I should add that what I thought self-evident was that keeping negative emotions in check was a valid way to reduce anxiety and stress. Avoiding attaching your happiness to things outside your control should help you limit disappointments. I don't think it is self-evident that all of us can do it, or that anyone can do it to perfection.)
From that link:
A sage is a stoic who has reached tranquility; not unlike a Buddhist monk that has reached Nirvana. The stoics are practical enough to recognize that reaching that state isn’t realistic for everyone, and instead use sage status as a point on the horizon to aim for and keep on course.
So there's that Buddhist similarity I was speculating about.
And if it's 'not realistic for everyone', is it 'true'? Or is it just 'useful'? (for some)
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Old 01-30-18, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
From that link:

So there's that Buddhist similarity I was speculating about.
And if it's 'not realistic for everyone', is it 'true'? Or is it just 'useful'? (for some)
Still not following the all or nothing aspect. Exercise can help you live longer, but you might get hit by a bus first. It's true that exercise is beneficial on the whole, no matter how it plays out for you, right?

You don't need to reach the highest level of Sage or Zen master to benefit from a philosophy, do you? Isn't exercise good for you, even if you are not an Olympic athlete?
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Old 01-30-18, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by GrainBrain View Post
A "sayism" I thought of was "Those that mind, don't matter. Those that matter, don't mind."
Fred Frith and Tom Cora (dba Skeleton Crew on their 1984 album of the same name) had a lovely tune called "It's Fine" which consisted almost entirely of this lyric over and over again:

"What we know we don't believe,
What we don't know we believe."
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Old 01-30-18, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
Still not following the all or nothing aspect. Exercise can help you live longer, but you might get hit by a bus first. It's true that exercise is beneficial on the whole, no matter how it plays out for you, right?

You don't need to reach the highest level of Sage or Zen master to benefit from a philosophy, do you? Isn't exercise good for you, even if you are not an Olympic athlete?
Not to be argumentative (just discussionative), I'm not convinced that it is always beneficial (that's a utilitarian metric) or correct (more related to a true/false metric) to remove negative emotions.

If a loved one dies, is grief not proper? Isn't even unhealthy not to grieve? Or when injustice is observed, isn't outrage or anger appropriate, or even necessary for society to regulate itself, and keep the unjust in line?

See also the movie Inside Out (which I thought was excellent); the main moral of which I take to be: sadness is legitimate.

Also, was Spock a stoic sage? How about Data? Or to push harder, what about a psycopath whose lack of empathy allows him to hurt people? What's the distinction between Stocism's removal of negative emotions, and the psychopath's lack of the negative emotions that should be preventing him from hurting people?

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Old 01-30-18, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
Not to be argumentative (just discussionative), I'm not convinced that it is always beneficial (that's a utilitarian metric) or correct (more related to a true/false metric) to remove negative emotions.

If a loved one dies, is grief not proper? Isn't even unhealthy not to grieve? Or when injustice is observed, isn't outrage or anger appropriate, or even necessary for society to regulate itself, and keep the unjust in line?

See also the movie Inside Out (which I thought was excellent); the main moral of which I take to be: sadness is legitimate.

Also, was Spock a stoic sage? How about Data? Or to push harder, what about a psycopath whose lack of empathy allows him to hurt people? What's the distinction between Stocism's removal of negative emotions, and the psychopath's lack of the negative emotions that should be preventing him from hurting people?
It's cool if you want to argue.

Spock sacrificed himself for the greater good, and I think Data would do the same.

Justice is one of the 4 virtues, so no Stoic sage would do anything he perceived to be unjust. He would not accept any money, goods, position or title he thought he did not earn, and he would not want to move ahead if it meant stealing something or hurting innocent people.

Stoics would have empathy without sympathy. They would understand others' feelings and they would not trample over them. But, they would not feel sorry for them or expect sympathy from anyone else. The sociopath might lack empathy or logic or both. A true Stoic should not be a threat to anyone, because he has both.
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Old 01-30-18, 05:18 PM
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"empathy without sympathy", that's interesting.

Does stoicism imply/require that the concepts of 'good' and 'bad' (or 'evil') are not actually meaningful (as I understand Buddhism to believe)? Or merely to control one's reactions to them?
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Old 01-30-18, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
"empathy without sympathy", that's interesting.

Does stoicism imply/require that the concepts of 'good' and 'bad' (or 'evil') are not actually meaningful (as I understand Buddhism to believe)? Or merely to control one's reactions to them?
Pushing the limits of my proficiency, but I'll try...

What Stoics call virtuous, others would usually call good. What they would call vice, others would usually call evil. If there was any conflict between these, the Stoic would likely say it resulted from a lack of complete understanding. You might call his act wicked because you lack his perspective, experience or judgment.

What they would never do, I think, is draw an arbitrary line without reasoning, which would no doubt be the cause of some of the conflict.

The best example I can think of is suicide. According to the Stoics, a healthy person committing suicide would be failing to fulfill his duty to contribute to the society which educated and supported him. But, they supported assisted suicide in the case of someone who was suffering greatly with no hope of recovery. The sage would not draw a hard line like a priest might, for example.

You chose a great example in Spock. He's smart, strong, brave, and always wants to do the right thing without selfishness, need for praise, etc. Other than a couple wacky writing jobs, like the Vulcan mating death match, he represents a Stoic sage, in my view (wisdom, courage, justice, temperance--that's him).

If you were beaming down to the planet, wouldn't you want him on your squad?

(although, if you are wearing a red shirt, what's the use?)

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