Recent Stoic Meditations, #3

When Fortuna allows, I publish a short morning meditation based on a short quote from a Stoic writer, seeking to apply that ancient wisdom to life in the 21st century. Here are the most recent entries:

Seneca says that it is natural for us to be virtuous. Modern scientists say that it is natural for us to be prosocial. Either way, it is reason that allows us to expand our instinctive circles of ethical concern. (listen here)

Cicero uses a metaphor involving ship pilots and their cargo to remind us that a more or less valuable “cargo” doesn’t make us better or worse “pilots.” It is our skills, that is our virtue, that make the difference. (listen here)

Seneca, differing from Epictetus in a metaphysical sense, says that the universe is – as we would put it – morally neutral to us. What matters, then, is how we handle so-called “good” and “bad” things. (listen here)

Seneca uses a colorful analogy between life and a journey. Sure, we’d like to live longer, but when the journey is longer a number of unpleasant things are bound to happen, like rain and mud. Just bring good gear with you for the trip. (listen here)

Seneca uses an interesting economic analogy to remind us that the privilege of being alive comes with the tax of suffering setbacks and losses. Understanding this helps us to cope with problems and even to look forward to them as further exercises in virtue. (listen here)

Published by

Massimo

Massimo is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He blogs at platofootnote.org and howtobeastoic.org. He is the author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

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