“Just as what is considered rational or irrational differs for each person, in the same way what is good or evil and useful or useless differs for each person. This is why we need education, so that we might learn how to adjust our preconceived notions of the rational and irrational in harmony with nature. In sorting this out, we don’t simply rely on our estimate of the value of external things, but also apply the rule of what is in keeping with one’s character.”EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 1.2.5-7
Some people are seeking a set of universal truths and rules which apply to everyone and can guide all people in the same way. But they’re never going to find those over-arching morals in The Daily Stoic book, because that’s not how stoicism works.
Stoic philosophers instead focused on the importance of understanding what applies to you specifically. Any interest in what’s right and good for other people is misguided and a waste of time. What other folks do is none of your business, and it’s outside of your control anyway. The only thing worth understanding is whether something is the right action for yourself and your own life.
To that end, the best thing you can do is focus on your own education, and your own understanding of your character, so that you might understand what is rational for your situation. No two situations are alike — what’s right for someone else doesn’t apply to you, at all. It needs to align with who you are. Your character guides your truth.
We must test everything. Any fact presented to us as an ‘absolute truth’ or ‘always right’ should be subjected to rigorous examination and scrutiny. It doesn’t mean it’s automatically wrong. But we need to determine if it’s right for us.
And the only way to do that is to always be learning — about yourself, about your place in this world — which will help you determine that good and virtuous behavior which aligns with your character.