Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On the Co-Emergence of Virtue and Happiness

“Virtue, until its very recent revival, has sounded old-fashioned or even prissy to our modern ears. Epictetus’s teachings on virtue had nothing to do with being a goody-goody or a doormat. Virtue, happiness and tranquility are not separate experiences but co-emergent states.
“While he advocated being good for its own sake, his practical observation was that a virtuous life leads to inner coherence and outward harmony. There is great relief in being morally consistent: The soul relaxes, and we can thus efficiently move forward in our endeavors, as Epictetus would say, ‘without hindrance.’
“Inner confusion and evil itself spring from ambiguity. Epictetus coaches us to call forth the best we have by making our personal moral code explicit to ourselves. Freedom, ease and confidence are won as our outward actions gradually conform to this code.” —  Sharon Lebell in “The Art of Living: Epictetus”

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