So, after going back and reflecting on the last week of contemplations, I’m seeing the ideas, as well as the overall conversation, getting more and more nuanced.
While exploring the subtlety of Mind, Epictetus offers his opinion on what he considers the “proper work” of the mind, and on what clogs the mind’s proper functioning (Discourses, 4.11.6-7).
According to Epictetus, the mind’s “proper work” is the exercise of the following seven functions (definitions my own):
Choice - the mind’s power of differentiation, discernment, and ultimately the informing quality of doing and thinking with Virtue.
Refusal - the mental ability to say NO, and to know WHEN to say no.
Yearning - the mind’s hunger to grow and be better.
Repulsion - the mental skill of being able to turn away from that which negatively affects us, be they circumstances or people, and mental response when faced with falsehoods.
Preparation - the mind’s efficacy in preparing for what does, or what could lie ahead, as well as whatever may be happening in the moment. (Stoic practices like *Memento Mori*, *Premeditatio Malorum*, and *Amor Fati* are at the heart of preparation and response/reaction).
Purpose - the mental competency of holding a guiding principle, ethos, or set of Virtues, as well as the adeptness knowing and of locking on to our highest priority.
Assent - the term for a mind that seeks to be free of the deception of control (what is inside and outside of our control and influence), and of one that is prepared to accept what ISN’T in it’s control.
… and what about the clogging substance and pollution of the mind? Epictetus says it's due to “Nothing but its own corrupt decisions.” (citation above)
We know of many things that our body is capable of doing, and some of us even know what potential and promise our spirits have (that is, those who believe in “the spirit” and other such things), but not many folx can tell us what Mind’s doing functions are (and the answer isn’t simply: TO THINK).
… but just like in a physical discipline, there is training, failure, success, more training, more preparation… like a fighter preparing to step into the ring, if we don’t train, we really shouldn’t expect much.
I suppose what I’m left with is this: in order to know what we COULD do, we must first know what we CAN do.
(See y’all tomorrow)