“We humans are unhappy in large part because we are insatiable; after working hard to get what we want, we routinely lose interest in the object of our desire. Rather than feeling satisfied, we feel a bit bored, and in response to this boredom, we go on to form even grander desires.”WILLIAM IRVINE. 1952 – PRESENT. professor of philosophy
We humans always want something. We will work extremely hard to get what we really want, and in the process, lose interest once we obtain our desire. We don’t want what we once did once we have it. We subconsciously begin to desire something bigger, and for lack of better word, better than our previous desire we have now. Most times we consciously plan how to get to our next desire. In a way, this is stoicism not because of who said the quote, but because it holds true to the stoic theory:
So how do our desires affect not only our quality of life, but our meaning of life in this moment? Do I believe the same thing about life as I did when you were 10? Of course not, because when I was 10, I was too young to understand life as I do now. I don’t believe the meaning of life is to bike around town all day, eat ice cream and pretend I’m a car. To some extent—yes, but on a grander scale, no. My experiences from the past 10 years have changed that, and I now believe I make and create my meaning of life; constantly it’s changing.
This quote also holds true to the existentialist belief that our wants and desires directly affect our meaning of life; and we have the choice to go after certain desires.
*In both philosophies, you see an agreement on the responsibility humans must have for their attitude, desires and beliefs. Ultimately a ‘happy life.’
As we tend to have many “wants” and simple needs we sometimes become apathetic to those external to us. People and things we can’t control; not in our power, we can choose to avoid. That choice borders the lines of existentialism, stoicism and nihilism. Our individual experience generally determine how apathetic or empathetic we become in our lifetime and what choices we will make in any given situation. Personally, I believe both apathy and empathy are needed to live a full-filling life.
Everything alive is constantly changing, as our desires do; it makes logical and philosophical sense. There is obviously more questions to ask about desire. Also many philosophical debates on if our desires are controlled by our conscious mind or subconsciously chosen… Though the stoic believes we have control over our desires, existentialism would argue it’s not the desire we have control over it’s the choice to pursue that desire or not. Again, I always go back to existentialism and how experience and choice is are major factors in what life means to us as individuals. Ex—If you were attacked by a dog, chances are you’ll grow up to love cats more; vice versa. This theory works with almost every situation in life. Our experience is almost our “destiny” as some say. As the ways we decide and react to things later in life are based our prior experiences, the experience itself is not always enough. The individual must learn from the experience by asking questions.
We have no destiny. Only experience.
We consciously and subconsciously create a meaning to life to keep us going. The nihilist may not know if, but if they are alive they are living through existentialism. Creating a meaning for the absurdity to live through it.
A wise man can learn more from a foolish question, than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”BRUCE LEE. 1940 – 1973. actor + martial artist
How can you learn to listen if you never ask questions?
Even if you ask a foolish question, you will learn from that experience at the very least why it was a foolish question. Better yet, you may get a foolish answer, then leading you on a quest for the truest answer. (See Quotes Part 2)
Only a fool walks the thin red line of delusional perfection. Waging a war in their own mind between what should be done and what is being done. This isn’t necessary.
Sometimes, all what is necessary is a foolish question; unlocking the door to many wise answers.
- Annas, Julia. “Ethics in Stoic Philosophy.” Phronesis 52.1 (2007): 58–87.
- Knapp, Charles. “Professor Gilbert Murray on the Stoic Philosophy (Religion).” The Classical Weekly19.13 (1926): 99–100.
- McAfee Brown, R. (ed) 1986. “The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr: Selected Essays and Addresses.” New Haven: Yale University Press.
- Pigliucci, Massimo. “How to be a Stoic:Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.” New York: Basic Books, 2017.
- —. “Stoicism.” The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- Remple, Morgan. “Stoic Philosophy and AA: The Enduring Wisdom of the Serenity Prayer.” Sobering Wisdom: Philosophical Explorations of Twelve Step Spirituality. Eds. Miller, Jerome A. and Nicholas Plants: University of Virginia Press, 2014. 205–17.
- Sellars, John. “Stoic Practical Philosophy in the Imperial Period.” Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies. Supplement.94 (2007): 115–40.