Instructions

The passage below is accompanied by a set of questions. Choose the best answer to each question.

Comprehension:

Stoicism was founded in 300 BC by the Greek philosopher Zeno and survived into the Roman era until about AD 300. According to the Stoics, emotions consist of two movements. The first movement is the immediate feeling and other reactions (e.g., physiological response) that occur when a stimulus or event occurs. For instance, consider what could have happened if an army general accused Marcus Aurelius of treason in front of other officers. The first movement for Marcus may have been (internal) surprise and anger in response to this insult, accompanied perhaps by some involuntary physiological and expressive responses such as face flushing and a movement of the eyebrows. The second movement is what one does next about the emotion. Second movement behaviors occur after thinking and are under one’s control. Examples of second movements for Marcus might have included a plot to seek revenge, actions signifying deference and appeasement, or perhaps proceeding as he would have proceeded whether or not this event occurred: continuing to lead the Romans in a way that Marcus Aurelius believed best benefited them. In the Stoic view, choosing a reasoned, unemotional response as the second movement is the only appropriate response.

The Stoics believed that to live the good life and be a good person, we need to free ourselves of nearly all desires such as too much desire for money, power, or sexual gratification. Prior to second movements, we can consider what is important in life. Money, power, and excessive sexual gratification are not important. Character, rationality, and kindness are important. The Epicureans, first associated with the Greek philosopher Epicurus . . . held a similar view, believing that people should enjoy simple pleasures, such as good conversation, friendship, food, and wine, but not be indulgent in these pursuits and not follow passion for those things that hold no real value like power and money. As Oatley (2004) states, “the Epicureans articulated a view—enjoyment of relationship with friends, of things that are real rather than illusory, simple rather than artificially inflated, possible rather than vanishingly unlikely—that is certainly relevant today” . . . In sum, these ancient Greek and Roman philosophers saw emotions, especially strong ones, as potentially dangerous. They viewed emotions as experiences that needed to be [reined] in and controlled.

As Oatley (2004) points out, the Stoic idea bears some similarity to Buddhism. Buddha, living in India in the 6th century BC, argued for cultivating a certain attitude that decreases the probability of (in Stoic terms) destructive second movements. Through meditation and the right attitude, one allows emotions to happen to oneself (it is impossible to prevent this), but one is advised to observe the emotions without necessarily acting on them; one achieves some distance and decides what has value and what does not have value. Additionally, the
Stoic idea of developing virtue in oneself, of becoming a good person, which the Stoics believed we could do because we have a touch of the divine, laid the foundation for the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam . . . As with Stoicism, tenets of these religions include controlling our emotions lest we engage in sinful behavior.

Question 1

“Through meditation and the right attitude, one allows emotions to happen to oneself (it is impossible to prevent this), but one is advised to observe the emotions without necessarily acting on them; one achieves some distance and decides what has value and what does not have value.” 

In the context of the passage, which one of the following is not a possible implication of the quoted statement?

Solution

Option A: This is a possible implication because the passage states that through meditation and the right attitude, one allows emotions to happen to themselves, which implies a passive reception of those experiences.

Option B: The passage does not state or imply that meditation allows for certain out-of-body experiences or that it allows an individual to gain distance from their emotions in that way. The passage specifically highlights that through meditation and the right attitude, one allows emotions to happen to themselves and then observes those emotions without necessarily acting on them, which allows one to achieve some distance and decide what has value and what does not have value. It does not mention anything about out-of-body experiences or any other kind of distance that is not achieved through the act of observing emotions.

Option C: This is a possible implication because the passage states that the second movement is what one does next about the emotion and that it occurs after thinking and is under one's control. Observing emotions in a distant manner, as described in the quote, would involve thinking and control and would therefore correspond to the second movement referred to earlier.

Option D: This is a possible implication because the quote mentions that observing emotions allows an individual to decide what has value and what does not have value, implying that emotional responses can make this distinction difficult.

Hence, Option B is the correct answer. 

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