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Cohesion of the Whole

On all U.S. money, the phrase e pluribus unum appears. In Latin, the phrase means "out of many, one." This is an insightful message to how we see our ideal society. Of course, there is still a long way to go in order to reach this exemplary state. In The Inner Citadel, Pierre Hadot believes that the universe already exists as the perfect ideal at this very moment; we just need to accept it. When discussing the second of three disciplines, Hadot writes:


"The discipline of desire therefore consists in replacing each event within the perspective of the Whole, and this is why it corresponds to the physical part of philosophy. To replace each event within the perspective of the Whole means to understand two things simultaneously: that I am encountering it, or that it is present to me, because it was destined for me by the Whole, but also that the Whole is present within it... It is the Whole which, through and by me, loves itself, and it is up to me not to destroy the cohesion of the Whole, by refusing to accept such-and-such event" (142-143).


This passage is especially profound because it allows the Stoic to choose peace by accepting the current version of the universe. All we have to do is accept the events provided to us. Of course, this acceptance is easier said than done. Many times, life's distractions can take our attention away from the realization that we are playing a very crucial role in the universe. If we play our role well, the condition of the Whole is better satisfied.


The Stoics talk a lot about accepting fate. In Stoic circles, the phrase amor fati, which was coined by Nietzsche, is mentioned a lot. It is easy to complain about where we are in life, but the Stoics emphasized that our role, whatever it might be, is critical. The universe simply could not have it any other way! If you find yourself having obsessive thoughts about the future, rest assured that you are currently where you need to be.

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