Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Stoic ethics in No More Parades

- Stoic ethics has roots in ancient Greece, with particular influence from Socrates.

- Follows the assumption that all human beings pursue happiness, and that to achieve happiness one must follow nature by being virtuous. “…virtue is the only thing that is good in any way, shape or form. Only what can benefit us, that is, make us happy, is good; and only virtue does that (Brennan, 35).”

- They believe in a reversal of conventions. Money and fame are not considered a good; neither are health, life, and freedom. Conversely death and poverty are not bad, the only evil is that of vice, an evil that humans inflict upon themselves.

- “The most common sense in which emotions are irrational, then, is that they are false. Most of the desires that animate people most of the time- the desires for money, sex, reputation, property, and so on- are all false, inasmuch as they claim that these things are really good when in fact they are completely indifferent (96).”

- Despite having a wealthy inheritance, Christopher does not touch any of it. During the war he elects to live off his meager earnings in the military. Christopher refuses to accept the share of his father’s money because of the way he died, through suicide because of his belief in lies about Christopher. Although it would be practical to accept the money, he does not do so, on principle.

- Sylvia criticizes Christopher, “What was incredible was that Christopher should let her go on starving in such a poverty-stricken place when he had something like the wealth of the Indies at his disposal (Ford, 424)”.

- Christopher on virtue: “If we lose, they win. If success is necessary to your idea of virtue – virtus they then provide the success instead of ourselves. But the thing is to be able to stick to the integrity of your character, whatever earthquake sets the house tumbling over your head…” (Ford, 454).


Brennan, Tad. The Stoic Life. NY: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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