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A Thought Experiment in the Discipline of Desire

In the fourth episode of The Stoic Psychology Podcast, host Alex MacLellan shares a thought experiment that includes his commentary on the Stoic virtue of desire:

"We understand, as Stoics, that when we sense desire, we are making a judgement about the value that that thing has. Very often, psychologically speaking, that judgment is social judgement... Why would I want a new phone or new gadget? Or why would someone even want to take a photo and post it online? Why do we desire it? Well, if we really sat with ourselves and thought about it... more often than not, I come up with a particular idea: when I imagine myself having that thing, I always imagine myself as a little bit better looking and people always looking at me in an admiring sense. The friends I have might make positive comments... I think a lot of our desire is socially motivated... We are motivated to display it to other people."

I find Alex MacLellan's thought experiment illuminating, and this definitely applies to my thought processes when I desire a certain object or social reaction. One of the things I need to keep in mind is the fact that I usually think of positive reactions in relation to these things instead of the potential negative reactions to these things. For example, if the screen breaks on the new phone or if I don't get a certain amount of "likes" on one of my posts, it becomes a hindrance. Advertising and marketing does an effective job at convincing people that the item will lead to some kind of fulfillment. For me, I need to improve on seeing objects for what they truly are (which is another recommendation of the Stoics).

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