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Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and…
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Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters (edició 1968)

de Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Moses Hadas (Traductor), Moses Hadas (Introducció)

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In The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca, representative selections from Seneca's writings offer the reader an excellent introduction to the range of his work.The selections are drawn from the essays, or dialogues, and the "Consolations;" from the treatises, of which "On Clemency," addressed to the young Nero, is included here; and from the Letters to Lucilius, which have to do not only with philosophical subjects but also with Seneca's personal experiences, such as journeys and visits.Moses Hadas has selected letters and essays which reveal Seneca's major philosophical themes--the relationship of the individual to society and to the gods; the meaning of pain and misfortune; man's attitudes to change, time, and death; and the nature of the highest good and of the happy life. In his Introduction, Professor Hadas discusses Seneca's life and work, tracing the history of his reputation; comments on Seneca's style; and outlines the origins and tenets of Stoicism.… (més)
Membre:LazyJ
Títol:Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters
Autors:Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Altres autors:Moses Hadas (Traductor), Moses Hadas (Introducció)
Informació:W. W. Norton & Company (1968), Paperback, 261 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
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Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

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Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters de Lucius Annaeus Seneca

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Shadow, God,
  jungsocietydc | Apr 9, 2019 |
Seneca lived from 4 BC to 65 AD and continued the philosophy of stoicism that had been founded in 3rd century Greece. In his time, the epicureans were analogous to today’s atheists or agnostics, and the stoics like the religious, so it was with a wry smile that I read the title of the first chapter in this text: “On Providence – Why Any Misfortune Befall Good Men When a Providence Exists”, for from Job to the present day it’s been the eternal question, that is provided a Providence exists. Among the arguments Seneca presents are that god indeed does not allow evil to happen to good men, he keeps evil away, in the form of “sin and crime and wicked thoughts and greedy schemes and blind lust and avarice which covets another’s property. The good man himself, god protects and defends; should anyone expect that god will look after the good man’s baggage also?” When I think of violent crime, rape, and genocide – bad things happening to good people – this argument seems extremely weak.

And this is true of several of his other pronouncements throughout the book, such as determining that “the only people really at leisure are those who take time for philosophy”, that travel is simply a result of self-dissatisfaction when in reality man cannot flee from himself, and that the earth was “more fertile when it was not worked”.

It’s also easy to find hypocrisy in Seneca. While he professes disinterest in success and the trappings of the world, the fact is he amassed a huge fortune through the practice of usury in addition to being a lawyer. He also apparently groveled and pled for restoration to Rome when Claudius’s third wife Messalina had him banished to Corsica in 41. (He was later recalled to Rome and served as tutor and advisor to Nero, which turned out to be his downfall, for he was forced to commit suicide for his involvement in a conspiracy to assassinate Nero that he was unlikely to have been involved in.)

However with all that said, a man should be considered in the context of the times he lived, and there are nuggets of wisdom in these essays and letters, which touch upon a number of subjects. Taking the position that misfortunate should be bravely borne, that the external trappings in life were less important than one’s serenity which came from within, and that death was not something to be feared all demonstrated enlightened thinking. If you are interested in reading stoic philosophy, I would recommend The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (who lived later, from 121-180) instead, but this book is also of interest, and not overly dense as some other philosophy texts tend to get.

Quotes:
On accepting fate:
“We are all chained to Fortune. Some chains are golden and loose, some tight and of base metal; but what difference does it make? All of us are in custody, the binders as well as the bound – unless you suppose the left end of the chain is lighter. Some are chained by office, some by wealth; some are weighed down by high birth, some by low; some are subject to another’s tyranny, some to their own; some are confined to one spot by banishment, some by a priesthood. All life is bondage. Man must therefore habituate himself to his condition, complain of it as little as possible, and grasp whatever good lies within his reach.”

On death:
“What is death? Either end or transition. I do not fear ceasing to be, for it is the same as not having begun to be; nor am I afraid of transition, for no alternative state can be so limiting.”

On humanity advancing over the generations:
“Shall I not walk in the steps of my predecessors? I shall indeed use the old path, but if I find a shorter and easier way I shall make a new path. The men who made the old paths are not our suzerains but out pioneers. Truth is open to all; it has not been pre-empted. Much of it is left for future generations. Farewell.”

On originality, wow, strong, challenging words:
“That is why we give boys apothegms, what the Greeks call chriai, to learn by heart, because the childish mind, which cannot comprehend more, is able to grasp them. But for a man advanced in study to hunt such gems is disgraceful; he is using a handful of clichés for a prop and leaning on his memory; by now he should stand on his own feet. He should be producing bons mots, not remembering them. It is disgraceful for an old man or one in sight of old age to be wise by book. ‘Zeno said this.’ What do you say? ‘This Cleanthes said.’ What do you say? How long will you be a subaltern? Take command and say things which will be handed down to posterity. Produce something of your own.”

On pardoning criminals:
“I know there are some who hold that clemency is a prop for villains, since it has room only after crime and is the sole virtue which has no function among innocent men. … Still, pardon should not be general, for if the distinction between bad men and good is abolished, chaos will follow and an eruption of vice. We must therefore apply a moderation capable of distinguishing the curable from the hopeless. … We must keep measure, but since it is difficult to maintain the exact proportion, any departure from the balance should weigh on the kindlier scale.”

On respecting the less fortunate:
“Remember, if you please, that the man you call slave sprang from the same seed, enjoys the same daylight, breathes like you, lives like you, dies like you. You can as easily conceive him a free man as he can conceive you a slave. …. Treat your inferior as you would wish your superior to treat you.” ( )
1 vota gbill | Jun 7, 2014 |
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In The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca, representative selections from Seneca's writings offer the reader an excellent introduction to the range of his work.The selections are drawn from the essays, or dialogues, and the "Consolations;" from the treatises, of which "On Clemency," addressed to the young Nero, is included here; and from the Letters to Lucilius, which have to do not only with philosophical subjects but also with Seneca's personal experiences, such as journeys and visits.Moses Hadas has selected letters and essays which reveal Seneca's major philosophical themes--the relationship of the individual to society and to the gods; the meaning of pain and misfortune; man's attitudes to change, time, and death; and the nature of the highest good and of the happy life. In his Introduction, Professor Hadas discusses Seneca's life and work, tracing the history of his reputation; comments on Seneca's style; and outlines the origins and tenets of Stoicism.

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