Soul Share

"striving with the same soul" (Phil 1:27)

“He then who has observed with intelligence the administration of the world, and has learned that the greatest and supreme and the most comprehensive community is that which is composed of men and God -- for these only are by their nature formed to have communion with God, being by means of reason conjoined with God -- why should not such a man call himself a citizen of the world, why not a son of God, and why should he be afraid of anything which happens among men?"
Epictetus, Discourses, 1.9.3

Plutarch's Progress

These queries are based on Plutarch's work "How We May Become Aware of Our Progress in Virtue" (Quomodo quis suos in virtute sentiat profectus). You should be able to tell from the question whether your response, if you are making progress, should be "yes, and I shouldn't" or "no, and I should."

  1. Do you think you’ve been making constant and gradual progress for a while now?

  2. Do you think you’ve been making more progress recently?

  3. Do you feel a sense of loss, if you don’t engage in philosophical practices and make progress?

  4. Has living the philosophical life become easier for you?

  5. Have you responded negatively (become disturbed, irritated, disconcerted, jealous or envious) because you have given value to external social standards like being popular or famous, having wealth or property, being considered good looking, having power or a position of authority, etc.

  6. Do you feel the need to be the center of attention and to impress people with your knowledge or technical language, to wax eloquent for an audience, to be the best story-teller, the wittiest, or the most humorous?

  7. Do you find that you are paying more attention to the lessons of life wherever you might hear, see, or read them?

  8. Do you take what you learn and find a way to improve the quality of your life, or do you try to impress others with your wisdom and cleverness?

  9. When you talk with other people, do you look for ways they can help you to improve and to share your own ideas without seeking to impress them or promote yourself and do it without being contentious, angry, arrogant, or getting exasperated if you can’t convince them you are right?

  10. When you speak to groups of people, are you afraid of large groups or disappointed of small groups, and do you stress about the response of the people to what you have to say?

  11. Are you feeling a greater and deeper sense of humbleness and self-criticism but also gratitude and satisfaction for your progress in the philosophical life and less of a need for others to know the good things you do, the self-control you exercise, your disdain for reputation, and for the way you appear to others as an intellectual and moral person?

  12. Do you try to hide your own weaknesses and vices, and then become embarrassed, angry, or afraid when someone becomes aware and tries to admonish you?

  13. Do you experience dreams and fantasies that come into your mind in which you do things, desire things, or feel emotion that you would not otherwise when awake and conscious?

  14. When you compare the current strength and frequency of experiencing emotions like desire, fear, or anger with the past, do you think they are less strong and more infrequent now?

  15. Do you live the way you think a virtuous person should live, putting your words into action by imitating what you think is best and doing what you admire, while also avoiding that which you disapprove?

  16. Do you admire and eagerly emulate people who are paragons of virtue, by imagining what they would do in your situation and imitating how they would respond?

  17. Would you be embarrassed or ashamed by having someone whose opinion you valued become aware of some personal detail about your life, or would you be pleased to have the person know every detail of your life, your family, your work, and what you say and do?

  18. Do you think lightly of little vices or are you dissatisfied with even the smallest of your indiscretions and attempts to condone your bad behavior?

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