“But how petty is the superiority which we attribute to the wise man, if he is merely braver than the most craven, happier than the most dejected, more self-controlled than the most unbridled, and greater than the lowliest! Would Ladas boast his swiftness in running by comparing himself with the halt and the weak?”
For many moderns, the binary nature of Stoicism is problematic. We have the Stoic paradoxes (meaning against the popular conception) that only the Sage is wise, happy, free, sane. It is in fact this black and white nature which I think is appealing.
If the goal of our practice is worthy of it, it should be a worthy goal. Who desires to be the best of the worst? The Sage as an exemplar is necessarily above the reach of the average person, as Epictetus notes, we aspire to be the purple.
“[It] makes no difference how great the passion is; no matter what its size may be, it knows no obedience, and does not welcome advice.
This is another reason why the chipping away at the importance of virtue, wisdom, and reason is an issue with modern Stoicism. As soon as we begin to water down the doctrine to be more palatable to the masses, we lose something important.
When we start to rearrange the priorities of philosophical practice, and permitting these moderating influences, we lose the whole thing.
We are doing nothing less than training the moral will. And the little slight, the little allowance, the little lie to the self now is the seed to toxic vintage.