Recognize Erroneous Proclivities

“Before you can reform yourself, you must realize your error.” – Seneca, Letter 28.9

Before we can improve ourselves, we have to acknowledge our flaws. The same can be said with repairing a car engine, unless we can figure out where the problem lies, we are shit out of luck as the saying goes. Yet locating the fault is only one aspect of the matter. We also need to consider the truth of the situation in its entirety; including the various kinds of causes, which may not be apparent to the naked eye.

For instance, a new driver may point to the carburetor as being the actual source of the problem, without knowing that the quality of oil used over the years may have weakened the overall proficiency of the engine. We also have to consider the make of the car and the year in which it was constructed. The car company may have gone through a change in management and could have purchased cheaper materials in an attempt to cut spending. There are many ways to get at the problem and what may appear to be obvious could mislead us from the significant source.

Many of the issues we are faced with are much more complex than meets the eye so we need to learn and practice alternative ways to analyze and process things. Here’s one method that can help to generate fresh perspectives:

“Bring an accusation against yourself, as stringently as you can. Then conduct the investigation. Take the role of the accuser first, then the judge, and let that of the advocate come last. Offend yourself sometimes!” – Seneca, Letter 28.10

Many feel cynical about the legal system because of its tendency to give way to compromise. Justice without mercy falls short. Just as compassion without intelligence is not much more useful than feeling sorry for yourself. The key to keeping justice and mercy opened in a synergistic manner can be energized through empathy. Truly understanding the needs of others requires the sort of virtue that doesn’t compromise; i.e. betray itself by settling for less than excellence.

The compromise of virtue IS only as good as its              ? Virtue combined with virtue allows for honour; optimum effectiveness. Virtue dyed with vice brings about dishonour; mere efficiency. The judiciary is not a good in and of itself, but is made good, thus honourable, through the integrity and cohesion of preserving ethical principles (virtues) without admitting deception or any other form of viciousness (vice).

As persons under natural law, we are free to exercise good judgement so as to uphold our individual wellbeing in view to the greater good* of the whole. In order to do this we must find a way to detect our own shortcomings (shortsightedness) so as to avoid fighting battles that belittle us and bring unnecessary harm to others. Our reformation has to be built upon real principles, rather than false ideals.

* Such as keeping the air free from toxins and conserving fresh clean drinking water. From the Stoic perspective, it is not the physical things per se that hold the primary value, as it is the freedom to exercise virtue. “We say too that those things which proceed from virtue and are connected with it—that is, all the activities of virtue—are themselves goods. Still, virtue is the sole good, because there is no good without it.” – Seneca, Letter 76.16

About Philosopher Muse

An explorer of volition and soul, a song under a night sky and a dream that forever yearns to be.
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