“When it comes to money, where we feel our clear interest, we have an entire art where the tester uses many means to discover the worth… just as we give great attention to judging things that might steer us badly. But when it comes to our own ruling principle, we yawn and doze off, accepting any appearance that flashes by without counting the cost.”EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 1.20.8; 11
Today’s quote from The Daily Stoic highlights a particular irony — that we spend a lot of time assessing whether things like money or possessions are authentic and valuable and worth their cost… but we don’t spend that same amount of time assessing our assumptions and our logic. We often just accept our reasoning without a second thought, despite it being astoundingly more important than whether that new iPhone is worth the gasp-inducing price tag.
Of course, as we know, there’s a huge risk in thinking that we’ve figured everything out. That sort of “arrogance of opinion” leads to major mistakes. Instead, we should test everything in the same way that we test products we’re thinking of buying — and that includes our reasoning and our assumptions.
You have to put your first impression to the test. But also your second impression, and your eleventh impression. You have to challenge your logic, and ask yourself some hard questions. Taking a critical eye toward every part of our thought process is what helps keep us honest.
To be a philosopher means that you are always challenging established opinion and thought, including your own! You must accept nothing as established and permanent fact — and test everything instead.