Discussion Question

I’m working on a English question and need guidance to help me study.

Whenever you suffer pain, keep in mind that it’s nothing to be ashamed of and that it can’t degrade your guiding intelligence, nor keep it from acting rationally and for the common good. And in most cases you should be helped by the saying of Epicurus, that pain is never unbearable or unending, so you can remember these limits and not add to them in your imagination. Remember too that many common annoyances are pain in disguise, such as sleepiness, fever and loss of appetite. When they start to get you down, tell yourself you are giving in to pain.” — Marcus Aurelius

Explain what he means – write a paragraph about each sentence individually. Explain it, evaluate it. Is it a valid thought or do you think he is wrong about that idea? Lastly, write a paragraph evaluating his argument as a whole.

  • Do you think he is right when he tells himself about that suffering – his own suffering – need not pervert his ability to think, reason, and control his own suffering from within himself?
  • For Marcus Aurelius, what is the PURPOSE or function of reason?
  • How will telling himself that “pain is never unbearable or unending” help him? Why does he resort to reading philosophy (Epicurus was another Stoic) to help him with his pain? Does reading, and the focus of the mind on ideas, help us with our pain?

  • That focus of the mind must be on PARTICULAR ideas, namely uplifting ones that locate a person’s power in himself/herself and his/her own responsibility to life.
  • He tells himself that if he loses sight of the limits of pain, he will add to his pain through his imagination. What does he mean by that? Is our pain significantly made of our own imagination? What does he mean by that? He does not mean we invent real pain and suffering, by the way he draws a distinction between suffering and how we make it worse. He also says that what we think is NOT pain is pain and we should pay attention to it (name it, if you will) and then we can control it through the strength of our character and reasoning mind.