To Live Consistently
Epistle 5. Posted on 2019-03-05. Edited on 2019-03-18.
What do these have in common?
Anger: He wronged me and is unpunished, and I desire he is punished.
Anxiety: Something bad is present, and I desire that would not be present.
Envy: I do not prosper while they do, and I desire to prosper.
Greed: I do not possess something and I desire to possess that thing.
Grief: A loved one died and I desire that loved one had not died.
Jealousy: I share something with another and I desire not to share it.
Longing: Someone is not present and I desire they are present.
Timidity: Something bad approaches, and I desire it does not approach.
Worry: Something bad might occur, and I desire it will not occur.
Contradiction: p and not p.
The answer is contradiction — please see this blog article if you have not.
If we regard thoughts that involve a contradiction as “bad” thoughts, here’s what we know:
Every error involves a contradiction.
Every “bad” thought is in error.
Every “good” thought (acceptance, awe, contentment, gratitude, joy, love, wonder, and so on) about nature is error-free.
Consistency is against contradiction.
The conclusion is straightforward: endeavor to live consistently. This is the motto of Zeno of Citium (c.334 BCE – c.262 BCE), the founder of Stoicism.
Note that logic is necessary to identify and consciously avoid contradictions. Without logic, you cannot see the forest through the trees. None of it is difficult to absorb, but merely involves learning how to reason properly.
It may sound easy to apply, but introspect — study your thoughts when you can; you will be amazed at how often a contradiction is involved. To put it in perspective, I opine that some of our best intellectuals have thousands of thoughts every day that involve contradictions. In short, there is plenty of room for self-improvement, and plenty of work to do to become reasonable.
I hope you will join me in a quest toward reason.
Vale (pronounced WAH-lay is Latin for “Farewell”),