Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Responding to Changing Circumstances

Lately, I have been reading the letters and short essays by the Roman philosopher, Lucius Annaeus Seneca, 4 BCE - 65 CE.  Seneca was a wealthy Roman, influential writer, political advisor, and aristocrat.  Many consider him a Stoic. He grew up in Spain.  Once, he was banished to Corsica for seven years; and, later, ordered to commit suicide by the Emperor Nero.  

"And we ought to make ourselves adaptable.  We should not be partial to a rigid program but pass easily where chance has taken us without shrinking from change or plan or status, provided we do not fall into the vice of fickleness, which is an enemy to repose.  Obstinacy is necessarily anxious and unhappy because Fortune often forces it askew, but fickleness is a more serious fault because it never holds its posture.  Each, inability to change and inability to persevere, is hostile to tranquility.  In any case, the mind must be recalled from externals and focus upon itself.  It must confide in itself, find pleasure in itself, respect its own interests, withdraw as far as may be from what is foreign to it and devote itself to itself; it must not feel losses and must even construe adversity charitably."
-  Seneca, On Tranquility, Section 14, p.99 in the Hadas' translation; online version transleated by Aubrey Stewart.   

Letters from a Stoic. By Seneca. Translated with an introduction by Robin Campbell. Illustrated by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Hardcover Classics Series. New York, Penguin Classics, Reissue Edition, 2015. Index of persons, appendix, notes, 352 pages. ISBN: 978-0141395852. VSCL. 

Seneca The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters. By Seneca. Translated with and introduction by Moses Hadas.  New York, W. W. Norton, 1958, 1968. 261 pages. ISBN: 0393004597. VSCL. 

Stoicism: Bibliography, Links, Notes, Quotations, Reflections, Resources.
A hypertext notebook by Michael P. Garofalo.

Personally, I favor the metaphysics and natural philosophy of the Epicureans over the Stoics.  

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