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Cicero on Goals

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Cicero believes that it is absurd to think that the use of wisdom would bring indifference in regard to virtues. This seems like an attack to Socrates and others who claim that a life of indifference is best and that good use of wisdom would lead one to indifference (Plato, Euthydemus). For Cicero believes is no need to question the very reason we live upon and our use of natural reason. Our prudence would be destroyed if there were no grounds for choosing between those, which are contrary to nature, and those that are according to nature(on goals, 31). Further, if we abandon indifference and make use of our prudence to what happens naturally, we will live in consistent agreement with nature. To avoid absurdity, the virtue of wealth has to be considered good in and of itself. That is to say, being indifferent in whether the notion of wealth is good or bad contradicts the natural presupposition that wealth is good and also neglects our prudence to rationally acknowledge that this virtue is in fact generally good for human nature. For example, since wealth is the abundance of valuable resources, in a forest, plenty of rain would constitute a wealthy forest. Generally, an abundance of rain would constitute a healthy and wealthy forest. Conclusion: Therefore, we have to eliminate the views of indifference.

The Stoics try to avoid absurdity by claiming that we should act according to our nature (On Goals, 3.31). That is to say, human beings would be better off if we understand and recognize that things such as wealth and health are valuable to human beings. The Stoics believe these virtues are valuable, even though sometimes they don't bring about good consequences, because they are in general better for the human capacity. They argue from a preference standpoint, in that what one would naturally prefer discredits the notion that indifference is more of a rational viewpoint. The Stoics draw a distinction between what is good and what has value, claiming that things such as wealth are valuable to humans therefore should be preferred. Their justification for this is that we should prefer the things that fit more appropriately to human nature. For they believe that the preference to being healthy acts according to nature, whereas it would be counter intuitive to say that one would prefer to not have good health. Therefore, we should act in accordance with our rationality and reject indifference, since it contradicts our natural intuition.

In short, the Stoics succeed in their attempt to avoid absurdity. They succeed because the Stoics basic tenets include acting in accordance with nature, i.e. that virtuous acts are acts that are in accordance with nature. They avoid the notion of absurdity because they have recognized that indifference is of no use to the human capacity and that our prudence is the vehicle to understanding and agreeing with nature. What is natural in the world is the primary focus and the Stoics avoid absurdity by



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