March 7, 2017 – Don’t Trust The Senses

“Heraclitus called self-deception an awful disease and eyesight a lying sense.” – Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, 9.7

Diogenes Laertius was a biographer of philosophers. One who recorded was Diogenes of Sinope (don’t ever confuse your Diogeneses). The latter, the story is told, walked around Athens during daylight holding a lamp, and looking for an honest man.

Heraclitus was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. While he believed that all things were a product of fire, he also held the opinion that all things are in flux. As Plato writes:

Heraclitus, I believe, says that all things pass and nothing stays, and comparing existing things to the flow of a river, he says you could not step twice into the same river. (Plato Cratylus 402a = A6)

This played into Heraclitus’ position on knowledge. Due to the flux of the experiential world. He does not claim that we cannot know, but he does claim that most don’t learn what they should be learning. His words ring true today, that people are focused more on gathering information than understanding it.

Knowledge of self is no different. If we spend our time experiencing without understanding the experiences what good are we? As our senses are that which gives us an experience we must ensure mental awareness of these experiences. Everything we consume defines who we are, and if everything is in flux then we must be aware of these changes to the outside world and ourselves.

February 14, 2017 – Think Before You Act

“For to be wise is only one thing – to fix our attention on our intelligence, which guides all things everywhere.” – Heraclitus, quoted in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, 9.1

Fidelity is a big deal in Stoic thought. When speaking of an adulterer, Epictetus reminded us that such an act does not occur in a vacuum. Beyond the spouse who has been transgressed, the adulterer is also impacting the relationships with neighbors, friends and fellow citizens. His claim is that humans are “born for fidelity”. This faithfulness allows us to exist in relationships that satisfy our higher calling as an extension of the natural world.

In order to be faithful to anything, we must be thinking beings. If we are working to achieve happiness through right thinking we cannot abstain from the act of thinking. Being that this meditation is the Valentine’s Day meditation, we can leverage times when our lack of thinking led to the disappointment of those who expected a representation of love. We are all intertwined as social animals. We should want to ensure our actions are guided by reason, and not by passion.