Category Archives: stoicism

Stewie the Stoic: Travel

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[Quotes provided by Seneca]

[Those who travel to escape, Seneca would tell you, bring their prisons with them.

TraipsingĀ  from place to place, tiring of one, yearning for the next, is evidence that one has not come to terms with one’s own understanding of peace within a place.

Only those who might travel, or stay put, can claim that the world is theirs to take or leave, as they will.]


Stewie the Stoic: I die a little

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[Quotes, this time, by Lucilius, Seneca’s acolyte.]

[More momento mori thoughts, which we’ll end up seeing often, I’m afraid. But this one is not by Seneca. Seneca quotes his friend and confidant, Lucilius. Quote might be a strong word (as are all of these “quotes”) as I believe Seneca paraphrases the younger man’s words. Nonetheless, my time ticks ever onward: oh to stay that second hand, for a moment, for a lifetime.]

 

[Have you guys noticed the tags in all the Stewie the Stoic posts? They’re all names generated by my python name engine. Some are worthy of novels in their own rights : “Xboki”, “Nizix”, “Ooya”, “Wac”, “Iolen”, “Zuki”, “Moox”]


Stewie the Stoic: Joy

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[Quotes by Seneca]

[Ode to Joy.

NOT!

Seneca even puts constraints on feeling joy. He does relinquish some of his draconian control on this topic. But “joy” to him is more akin to absence of conflicting thoughts rather than that of a child’s-Christmas-morning joy.

What I find that tempers Seneca’s oppressive views is that he realizes how strict his doctrines must be viewed: “Do you think that I am now robbing you of many pleasures when I try to do away with the gifts of chance, when I counsel the avoidance of hope, the sweetest thing that gladdens our hearts? ” — Uh, YEAH!

And he continues… “Or can one thus open his door to poverty, or hold the curb on his pleasures, or contemplate the endurance of pain? He who ponders these things in his heart is indeed full of joy; but it is not a cheerful joy.” — WHAT? Then what kind of joy are you talking about?

Ah, it’s the resolved, almost acquiescent joy of the Buddha who surrenders the frivolous joys in favor of the placid, taciturn joys of self-sufficiency.]


Stewie the Stoic: Memento Mori

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[Quotes courtesy of Seneca]

[Just when we thought we’d never get to the tasty parts of Seneca…

In this letter Seneca alludes, finally, to a noble death. Pleasantly, in getting to it, he gives us a few useful tidbits. The first is that the things we cherish, involve ourselves with, obsess over, can become chains: ” … there are a few men whom slavery holds fast, but there are many more who hold fast to slavery.” Consider our addictions. Are we compelled to be pawns of our social life? For we certainly relinquish control, submitting and embracing our digital masters.

When it comes to aging gracefully: surrendering our treasures, gifting those things we find dear, rather than chasing down the last morsel of profit or acquisition: “No man can swim ashore and take his baggage with him.”

Lastly, the title Memento Mori: Remember that you will die. This, among all themes in the Stoic’s philosophical arsenal, is the most powerful. The cares to which we grasp as we die have no bearing on our place in the universe. You had nothing coming in — you will have nothing going out.
“Free yourself of the fear of loss for the final loss negates them all.” – Anonymole
]

 

 


Stewie the Stoic: Appetites

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[Quotes by Seneca]

[Seneca quotes Epicurus incessantly. For contrast perhaps? Or maybe Seneca is a closet Epicurian? Here we examine just what we should allow in our indulgences and whether they verge on the extreme. Our bellies, Seneca would tell us, can be filled with gruel, and we should accept it. How often did Seneca eat gruel, I wonder?]

 


Stewie the Stoic: Inner turmoil

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[Quotes provided by Seneca]

[Here, again, we enter into a discussion of “To thine own self be true.” Two things strike me as I continue to read Seneca’s letters to Lucilius 1) Seneca was acutely aware of his wealth and its affects on those he thought his friends and equals. 2) He continuously questioned the intents of those around him, almost as if he doubted his own mind and his own adherence to his Stoic ideals.

His preaching was done, not to those in receipt of his teachings, but to himself, as reinforcement.]


Stewie the Stoic: Debt

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[Quotes by Seneca]

[Lucilius is retiring — a wealthy man. Whom he chooses and befriends in retirement, what he may give them as he whittles down is possessions is spoken of. Seneca then speaks of how gifts should be bequeathed: “…consider that it is more important who receives a thing, than what it is he receives.” Someone who might owe you a large debt may no longer be your friend. In turn, you owing another great sums would be considered an affront, perhaps you yourself would be considered the villain.]