Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sooner or Later It All Comes Down to Fate

Lary Wallace:

The Stoics themselves believed in gods, but ultimately those resistant to religious belief can take their Stoicism the way they take their Buddhism, even if they can’t buy into such concepts as karma or reincarnation. What the whole thing comes down to, distilled to its briefest essence, is making the choice that choice is really all we have, and that all else is not worth considering. ‘Who [...] is the invincible human being?’ Epictetus once asked, before answering the question himself: ‘One who can be disconcerted by nothing that lies outside the sphere of choice.’

A couple weeks ago, while reading a book on the history of aphorisms, I came across one from Seneca: "There is nothing the wise man does reluctantly. He escapes necessity because he wills what necessity is going to force on him."

Sounds slightly disingenuous when put that way. But it also sounds like someone whose famously critical words for the Stoics Wallace mentions in the essay, namely, Nietzsche and his concept of amor fati. It occurs to me that if one wanted to be a little bit mischievous and sarcastic, one could sum it up like:

Shorter Nietzsche and the Stoics: I meant to do that!