36 - Letters_from_a_Stoic

36 - Letters_from_a_Stoic - Letters from a Stoic by Seneca...

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Letters from a Stoic © Copyright Philosopher’s Notes, LLC page 1 Letters from a Stoic by Seneca Penguin Classics © 1969 256 pages The Big Ideas Do You Like Yourself? Say “Yes!”! :) A Disposition to Good Create it! Focus Hello, God! She’s inside you! Your Ideal State What’s your purpose? The Troubled Ones Don’t feel it. :) Philosophy’s Power ‘tis big! A Path to Salvation Don’t feel it. :) On Death Rehearse it. The Play of Life Good vs. long. Pleasures ... and punishments. Harshness Properly employed. Dare Ya! Just do it!!! “A good character is the only guarantee of everlasting, carefree happiness.” ~ Seneca from Letters from a Stoic Stoicism is one of my favorite philosophies. What we know of this classic Hellenistic philosophy is based on the texts created by its three primary sages: Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Seneca. In this Note, we’re gonna take a quick look at Seneca: a statesman, Stoic philosopher, contemporary of Jesus, and tutor to the Roman Emperor Nero (who must not have liked Seneca’s Stoic principles too much because he eventually had him killed. .. either that or there may have been some political issues going on, eh? :). Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic is packed full of Big Ideas I think you’ll enjoy! First, let’s take a quick look at his life and philosophy then we’ll jump in. Life The reliability of the details of Seneca’s early life are shaky at best, but he was believed to be born in Cordoba, then the most prominent city in Spain (Hispania), at about the same time as Jesus (between 4 and 1 BCE). Seneca was a statesman and a philosopher and is widely known for his skilled essays and, in fact, is recognized by many as the founder of the Essay. In 49 CE, Seneca became the tutor to the 12-year old boy who would become the emperor Nero. For eight years, he acted as Nero’s unofficial chief minister before Nero compelled him to commit suicide after the discovery of a plot that may have elevated him to the throne as emperor. Quick Intro to Stoicism The modern word “stoic” is derived from the calm demeanor of the stoic philosopher. The philosophy itself, however, was named “stoicism” because its founder, Zeno (344-262 BCE), taught in a well-known stoa : a colonnade or porch. Stoicism is one of three prominent philosophies of the Hellenistic era (the other two: Cynicism and Epicureanism). The philosophy was founded by Zeno about 300 BCE. (To put it in perspective, Plato founded the Academy in 385 BCE.) Although relatively obscure today, Stoicism was the dominant philosophy of the Western world for several centuries. It lost its prominence when the emperor Constantine declared Christianity the official
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Letters from a Stoic © Copyright Philosopher’s Notes, LLC page 2 “If you shape your life ac- cording to nature, you will never be poor; if according to people’s opinions, you will never be rich.” “For men in a state of freedom had thatch for their
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36 - Letters_from_a_Stoic - Letters from a Stoic by Seneca...

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