November 21, 2015
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Here’s the deal: if you’ve read any handful of posts on this blog, you know that Seneca is my favorite of the three most famous Stoics. I enjoy his letters so much that I splurged and bought the newly-released Letters on Ethics published by Cambridge University Press (after waiting for it for a year!). I’ve been enjoying the introductory material and reading a letter each evening or so, when I decided I wanted to have Seneca’s letters on audio recording. Yes, these can sometimes be found on Youtube or on other websites, but sometimes the older translations can use an interesting vocabulary, which was a hindrance several weeks ago when my boyfriend (whose native language is not English) and I wanted to listen to Seneca during a road trip. So I wanted to listen to Seneca’s words in simple clarity, to free the mind from the tangles of vocabulary and syntax, and enable the mind to delve deep and explore the actual content.
So after reading both older translations of Letters from a Stoic and the 2015 Letters on Ethics, I have produced an audio recording that is similar to the way I include Seneca’s letters in my blog posts. Some words are changed, some parts may be slightly paraphrased, all is done in effort to convey the original meaning and to ease understanding.
Check back for updates. New audio recordings will be added to this page, but no email/blog updates will be sent, if you’ve subscribed.
April 1, 2015
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As the student of Stoicism reflects on Epictetus’ “dichotomy of control” (“what is in our power and what is not in our power”), the student seems to have stumbled across a conundrum.
Things not in our power include our body, possessions, reputation, status; whatever is not our own doing.
(Epictetus, Handbook 1.1)
We accept that we don’t have 100% control over our bodies, ever. Yet the body is absolutely necessary for life, and life is necessary in order to pursue development of our characters. Clearly, when Epictetus stated those things which are not in our power, he also knew that while we don’t have 100% control over those things, we do have some control over those things. Although we accept that we can’t ultimately control the fate or condition of our bodies, we agree that it makes practical sense to care for them. And if it makes practical sense to care for our bodies, how far should we go? Should we seek to maximize what is in our control, such as committing to exercise daily, eat only organic food, give up alcohol and sugar? Should we go even further and commit to running marathons and lifting weights and eating only raw vegetables and legumes? Read more of this post