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


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 2

Which one of the following statements would be an accurate inference from the example of Marcus Aurelius?


Based on the discussion, Option D is the correct answer: the passage describes an example of what might have happened if an army general accused Marcus Aurelius of treason in front of other officers, implying that Marcus Aurelius was a leader in the Roman army. The other options are neither mentioned nor implied in the passage and are therefore not supported by the information provided. 

Option A: is incorrect because the passage does not mention anything about Marcus Aurelius feeling humiliated or embarrassed by the accusation; it only describes the immediate feeling and other reactions that may have occurred in response to the stimulus of the accusation, such as surprise and anger.

Option B: is incorrect since the author does not label Marcus Aurelius as a Stoic or associate him with the philosophy of Stoicism in any way; he only uses him as an example of what might have happened in a specific situation involving an army general accusing him of treason.

Option C: is incorrect since the passage does not state that Marcus Aurelius was plotting revenge or seeking justice; it only mentions that one of the potential second movements that Marcus Aurelius might have chosen in response to the accusation could have been a plot to seek revenge. However, it does not state that this is what actually happened or that it was the only possible second movement that Marcus Aurelius could have chosen.

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