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Bad passions vs good passions

Cicero on the Stoic idea of bad passions vs good passions  (he calls them "emotions" and "consistencies"):

"This, then, is Zeno’s definition of an emotion (which he calls a pathos): “a movement of mind contrary to nature and turned away from right reason.” Others say, more briefly, that an emotion is “a too-vigorous impulse,” where “too vigorous” means “having deviated too far from the consistency of nature.” The different classes of emotions, they say, arise from two kinds of things thought to be good and two thought to be evil. Thus there are four possibilities: those arising from goods are desire and gladness, gladness being directed at present goods and desire at future goods; while those arising from evils are fear and distress, fear being directed at future evils and distress at present ones. For the things we fear when they are in prospect are the very things that bring distress when they are upon us. Gladness and desire, on the other hand, are concerned with beliefs about what things are good: desire catches fire from its attraction toward what seems good, while gladness is wildly excited at having obtained some longed-for object.

The Three Consistencies and Their Objects
By nature, all people pursue those things which they think to be good and avoid their opposites. Therefore, as soon as a person receives an impression of some thing which he thinks is good, nature itself urges him to reach out after it. When this is done prudently and in accordance with consistency, it is the sort of reaching which the Stoics call a boulesis, and which I shall term a “volition.” They think that a volition, which they define as “a wish for some object in accordance with reason,” is found only in the wise person. But the sort of reaching which is aroused too vigorously and in a manner opposed to reason is called “desire” or “unbridled longing,” and this is what is found in all who are foolish. Similarly there are two ways we may be moved as by the presence of something good. When the mind is moved quietly and consistently, in accordance with reason, this is termed “joy”; but when it pours forth with a hollow sort of uplift, that is called “wild or excessive gladness,” which they define as “an unreasoning elevation of mind.” And just as it is by nature that we reach out after the good, so also it is by nature that we withdraw from the bad. A withdrawing which is in accordance with reason is termed “caution,” and this, as they understand it, is found only in the wise person; while the name “fear” is applied to a withdrawing that is apart from reason and that involves a lowly and effeminate swooning. Thus fear is caution that has turned away from reason. For present evil the wise person has no affective response, but the foolish person responds with distress. For those who do not obey reason lower and contract their minds in circumstances which they believe to be evil. Hence the first definition for distress is this: “a contraction of mind contrary to reason.” Thus there are four emotions, but three consistencies, since there is no consistency which corresponds to distress."

- Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, 4.11-14

Quoted from Margret Graver's Cicero on the Emotions, University of Chicago Press, 2008, p. 41-42. 


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