In a prior post, I discussed how it is one of the main differences between Christian philosophy and Greek philosophy (Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Seneca etc. inclusive) resides in the path to discovery of what it means to live right.
Much like Christian philosophy, none of the notable Greek philosophers believed in subjective morality. There always was right living (objective morality) to be discovered. But while understanding of right living requires interaction with ‘God’ in context of Christian philosophy, it can be arrived at via self discovery, equivalently via self directed searching in context of Greek philosophy.
In presence of consensus between different worldviews in respect of how to relate to some ideological concept — in this specific case objectivity of what exactly it is constitutes right living — there is possibility of hegemony of beliefs and behavior within society. The bonus being hegemony is arrived at via consensus over ideas, as opposed to imposition of authority by some dominant sub-group.
Part of the reality of human existence is, the future sometimes does not turn out quite exactly as is envisioned. ‘Till death do us part’ turns into divorce. Children do not turn out to be quite as lovable as we had envisioned either while in labor, or while squeezing the hands of our significant other, blessing God we came into the world male. Squeezing of our significant others’ hands and shouting ‘push darling, you’re almost there, head just about visible’ clearly the easier part of the birthing experience for fathers such as myself.
With respect to relationships, we grow up and wonder whether adults in our lives while we were children all were taken to Mars and replaced with clones. Leads to an extremely important truth, which is, when we are dependent on others, and they have to take care of us no matter what, the codependency relationship does not imply any true knowledge of one another.
People in co-dependency relationships (e.g. parents and children) do not necessarily know or understand one another.
By the way, don’t get me started about childhood friends. If you have any left, you’ve turned out much better than I have so far.
Consistent with differences of opinion as to the path to understanding and practice of right living, Christian philosophy differs from Stoic philosophy with respect to how exactly to prepare for possibility of unwanted adverse events in future periods.
Within context of Stoic philosophy, people are advised to envision the worst that could happen in the future, then prepare their minds for such an eventuality, with outcome that were the unforeseen negative event to arrive or transpire, they would be unmoved by it.
In context of Christian philosophy, people are to believe there always is a good outcome to be leveraged on any circumstance, as such are expected to attempt to make the most of every situation, no matter their perspective as to ranking of specific circumstances to be relatively good or bad.
The subtle difference?
Christians are advised to live in the present only, not worry about tomorrow. Stoic philosophy, on the other hand, encourages living in the present and envisioning of what potentially could go wrong in the future. The difference could be characterized as ‘staying in the present’ vis-a-vis ‘living in the present and envisioning what could go wrong in the future’.
Now you may be wondering, “are Christians not supposed to plan for the future?” “Can it ever be responsible not to envision what could go wrong in the future?” “How exactly can it be better to stay in the present, as opposed to choosing to live in the present and envisioning what could go wrong in the future?”
But then I ask, “how exactly do we best prepare for the future?” “Is whatever we apply ourselves to today not our best attempt at preparing for the future?” “Is it not what we sow today that enables a harvest of outcomes in the future?” When people choose to go to College, it is in part efforts at mitigating possibility of unforeseen financial events in future. When a farmer sows wheat seeds and sprays with fungicides, it is with a view to ensuring a rich harvest of wheat in future, a harvest not tainted by disease. The action taken today attempts to minimize possibility of arrival of an unwanted adverse event in future.
We have then that we can stay in the present, attempting to make the most of our circumstances, using decisions about how best to apply ourselves for fostering of preparation for a future fraught with some uncertainty. We also can live in the present, and apply energy to envisioning of the worst that could happen in future. Regardless of differences in approach, Stoicism is the advocated response of either of Christian or Stoic philosophy to arrival of unanticipated adverse events. Christian philosophy recommends active Stoicism, stoicism that asks how best to apply itself in light of the current situation. Again, we have that while attitudes recommended are similar, paths recommended by the two philosophies do not coincide.
It is a beautiful thing when two different philosophies recommend similar attitudes, resulting in hegemony of attitudes, yet with hegemony facilitated by choice of different paths. If the ‘what’ (Stoicism as an attitude) is identical, and the ‘how’ (paths) different, but with paths moral, ethical, hegemony of ‘what’ is Utopia.