Saturday, July 26, 2008

Marcus Aurelius regarding remorse ...

"Remorse is annoyance at yourself for having passed up something that's to your benefit. But if it's to your benefit it must be good - something a truly good person would be concerned about. But no truly good person would feel remorse at passing up pleasure. So it cannot be to your benefit, or good." - Meditations VIII.10.

There is a lot in here that I should post on the wall as a reminder to myself, but this particular passage was just wrong. I don't feel remorse because I passed up a 5 star feast to chew on some stale Cheetos. I feel remorse when I indulge my pleasures and someone else gets hurt - sometimes completely out of proportion to the little pleasure that I indulged. That is remorse. The Stoics emphasize focusing on the issues of the day and not being agitated about one thing or another. This is good, but we still are left with guilt from earlier actions. Even if we vow to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them, remorse is a genuine feeling from our conscience that cannot be addressed in the manner that the Stoics are attempting. It is only through Jesus Christ that we have a solution to this.

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