The Hard Part Of Stoicism. What Determines Whether You’re A Slave Or A Free Man

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You will ever remain a slave as long as you do not disentangle your relationship with the externals (stuff that you cannot control).

The only thing that you can really control is your choices.

The externals are many, basically everything. Your health, your wealth, the health of the people you love, the death of your loved ones, the way the world is being managed at the moment, natural disasters, your beauty, your success.

You are able to influence all of these, of course, but not ultimately control them.

You cannot get mad when you throw a die and you get a 4 instead of a 6. It’s irrational to be mad at chance.

The only thing that you can control is your volition/will. This is where the all-famous Stoic “freedom” lies.

Human life the Stoics appear to have considered as a game of great skill; in which, however, there was a mixture of chance, or of what is vulgarly under- stood to be chance. . . . If we placed our happiness in winning the stake, we placed it in what depended upon causes beyond our power, and out of our direction.

We necessarily exposed ourselves to perpetual fear and uneasiness,and frequently to grievous and mortifying disappointments.

If we placed it in playing well, in playing fairly, in playing wisely and skillfully; in the propriety of our own conduct in short; we placed it in what, by proper discipline, education, and attention, might be altogether in our own power, and under our own direction. Our happiness was perfectly secure, and beyond the reach of fortune.

Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Freedom, in a way, brings a sort of contentment and tranquility, for you are able to decide how you will act, and you are no longer encumbered and worried about things that are not in your control anyway.

Slavery is the state of not being able to act one way or another because of an external force, adding to that, you are forced to work in a way that you’d rather not.

One example could be getting angry about someone calling you a stupid bastard. Being called a stupid bastard is clearly an external…

Ricardo Guaderrama Caraveo

Mountaineer, writer, Stoic, Gryffindor.