Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Emotion: The Terminology of Stoisicm
Folllowing Needleman and Piazza's notes in The Essential Marcus Aurelius, another term we should know is the word translated as "emotion" - the Greek is pathos. The root means "to move," "Therefore, emotions are conceived of as things that move us and are somewhat out of our control. The task of philosophy, then, is to train our emotional reactions so that we are not ruled by these 'movers'." I think Needleman and Piazza are accurate as far as they go. But while the ordinary Greek (and later Roman) conception of emotion as an outside force pushing us around may be accurate, the Stoics did not much approve of this dissociation of emotion and the person feeling it. To a great extend, the Stoics saw them as internal things that are, or ought to be, under our control - that trying to claim they were external was just making excuses. But I certainly agree that the "passions" or "emotions" were conceived as things that would "move" you around if you let them - you should control them, not the other way around!