Tag Archives: Misfortune

Stoic Serenity 5.5.4: Epictetus’ Revolutionary Idea

Yesterday we ended with Marcus’ “Ten Commandments” for dealing with difficult people. In short, he wrote that we should respond to difficult people with kindness, including gently correcting them. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. If we admonish people with hatred or spite in our own hearts, we’re being hypocritical: we’d be telling them to stop acting on their own anger while we ourselves are speaking out of anger.
  2. No one likes to be reproached anyway. Most people won’t even take kindly to constructive criticism. But there’s a much better chance at them accepting constructive criticism if it is presented out of kindness rather than out of spite.

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Stoic Serenity 4.6: The Stoic Refiner’s Fire

While we’ve spent the last week learning that hardships and setbacks are part of the Universe’s nature, something that we just need to “deal with,” today we will take a quick look into Seneca’s essay On Providence in which he attempts to make an argument that hardships are beneficial for the wise person. Read more of this post

Stoic Serenity 4.5: “Woe is Me” Exercise

Over the course of chapter 4 of Stoic Serenity, we’ve examined the Stoic concepts of matter, God, and Fate. An (extremely) quick review:

matter – that which comprises the Universe. The Stoics were monists, believing that only one type of matter existed in the Universe. (God, Fate, myself, are all part of this matter that pervades the Universe).

God – the single matter, intelligence, reason that pervades the entire Universe. Individual people’s minds are simply “fragments of God.” Evident in everything from reason to nature itself.

Fate – one in the same with God, and therefore, with matter. Everything in the Universe is bound up and interrelated. Seen as a complex web that has been in the process of being spun since eternity, resulting in the current moment of who I am and what my life is like. “Prescribed” for me individually by the Universe.

Runaway Slaves

These are pretty abstract ideas, but hopefully you’ve gotten a grasp of what the ancient Stoics believed in. Before we finish chapter 4, we have a couple of exercises to complete regarding the nature of the Universe. Today we read Letter 107 from Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic. In it, Lucilius’ slaves have apparently run away, and Lucilius is throwing himself a big pity party. Seneca writes him some words of advice, hopefully to knock some sense back into him. Read more of this post

Stoic Serenity 1.7: Misfortune Exercise

If you’ve been following along in the order of things, the previous post had us complete an exercise where we took our Stoic teachings up until this point and applied them to our individual everyday lives. We identified our activities yesterday and divided them into interests and projects. Then we evaluated whether the projects were going well or poorly and identified our reactions to setbacks. Continue to keep a simple list of interests and projects each day, and continue to identify your reaction to the progress of each. Train yourself to be aware hour-by-hour of which project you are engaged in, and whether you are acting and responding with Virtue.

Today, we look at one of Seneca’s Letters. Letter 91, “On the Lesson to be Drawn from the Burning of Lyons.” Seneca hears the news of the destruction of the city of Lyon, and he feels compelled to write to Lucilius about dealing with misfortune. As previously, I will paraphrase the selection. This one’s a bit long, but has some good points:

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Stoic Serenity 1.5: Marcus Aurelius on Misfortune & Indifferent Things

Marcus Aurelius (courtesy of Wikipedia)

If you have Seddon’s book, you already know that he uses Seneca’s Letters and Aurelius’ Meditations as the two texts for the course. It’s my intent to explore other philosophers later on in my studies, but for now we will stick to these two of the three most famous Stoic philosophers (the third is Epictetus).

For a very quick briefing, (for many more details you can visit the Wikipedia page here [very scholastic, I know]), Marcus Aurelius lived from 121-180 AD. He was Roman Emperor for the last 19 years of his life. One of the fascinating things about Stoicism is that the philosophers came from all walks of life, literally from emperors to slaves.

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Stoic Serenity 1.4: The Virtues

Yesterday we covered the subject of indifferents in Stoicism. We looked at the dialogue between Socrates and Clinias and saw that there are two types of goods, the Virtues and the Conventional Goods, or now referred to as the Indifferents. The Virtues are 100% good, inside and out, no matter the context, and we must strive for them in all circumstances in order to attain well-being and live a life well. The Indifferents, however, are neither intrinsically good nor evil. Their value depends entirely on whether they are used with the guidance of the Virtues.

So today we look at these Virtues a little more closely.

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