Sunday, February 8, 2015
Ultimatums are one way of creating a fire that must be dealt with. The problem is that the result of an ultimatum may not be what you want, it may be what you do not want; there is also the do nothing choice and the third choice, something you do not want and something you never thought of. I once knew a young lady who gave her husband an ultimatum, so he created a third option; he hung himself in the basement from the cross braces between the joist. Kick stool, if you changed his mind, how long can you do a chin up for?
The stoics say "if it is too smokey in the kitchen, you can always leave." The stoics also say when you kiss your children and your wife, and say in your mind that these mortals must die, and tomorrow they may not be here. This is preconditioning for the inevitable.
So if you are thinking of giving someone an ultimatum, be aware of all the possible reactions.
It is right to do right. It is even better, and should be the purpose of life to do right, for the right reasons. A philosopher ought not to life a finger without reason. He ought to lay out all the practical actions, and make a decision based on reason, what ever that may be. Is the status qua all that bad that you are willing to gamble with an ultimatum? Can you simple ask for what you want? Is it within the others power to grant your request?
Epictetus: "We are responsible for some things, while there are others for which we cannot be held responsible." Ench. 1. Or as it is often put, Some things are up to us, some are not. The trick is to figure out what is up to us and what is not. What is up to others and what is not. What is simply fate, nature, or the sum of both. It is difficult to change our nature, even when we would like to. We may also be one of natures experiments, but wait, we all are nature's experiments. Just one more variation, the successful reproduce, the failures do not. In the end we all die, so what difference does it all make.