“Reason, however, is nothing else than a portion of the divine spirit set in a human body. If reason is divine, and the good in no case lacks reason, then the good in every case is divine. And furthermore, there is no distinction between things divine; hence there is none between goods, either.”
Every once in a while, I think I’m starting to get a handle on what Stoic virtue is. Of course, I know the pat definitions… but really understanding it? No, not yet.
I was thinking the other day on progress, and how if we Stoics had a conception of heretical doctrines, I subscribe to two of them. The one is essay-fodder for a later date, but the other is the idea of progress.
I wrote about it yesterday, making a case for progress in Stoicism. but this morning I was thinking about it, and I realized that this is not a position I can reasonably disagree with yet. I might not like it, but I don’t have grounds to disagree with it.
I’ve read that’s probable that the folks of the Early Stoa (Zeno, Cleanthes, Chryssipus) likely believed themselves to be Sages, but sometime between then and the Late, Roman Stoa, the idea of of the Sage had changed somewhat, and our sources seem to no longer believe themselves (and probably not the Early Stoa as well) to be Sages. We see that in the comments that say we have not yet seen a Sage.
My suspicion i that the Early Stoa, still being heavily influenced by Zeno’s Cynicism, saw a more practical virtue. Cynic virtue seems easier to attain than the Stoic conception of it.
Which brings me back to my disagreement on progress. I don’t like the idea of no progress, the true binary and “road to Damascus”-style conversion to wisdom.
But I haven’t been there. Without having been there, how can I saw the path looks different than others have said it does? I’ll have to suspend judgment on the issue of progress for the time being.
Maybe sometime in the few weeks we’ll look at the other “Stoic heresy” that I favor. (;