Stumbling Blocks for a Stoic Novice

I wrote in my last post of humans’ attaining their true end by using their intellect to contemplate nature, thereby achieving greatness of soul. This takes a certain steeliness of mental faculties, and personally, in the guise of being a “realist” I have gotten into lazy, flaccid, un-steely mental habits. Despite being for the most…

Of Providence, and Of Not Hanging Back With the Brutes

Humans’ Proper End I recently read Epictetus’s “Of Providence,” from his Discourses (book 1, chapter XVI). This particular discourse concerns the distinctions between humans and beasts; we humans clearly have the edge in rational capacity, and if we do not utilize it, we are not achieving all we should: It is therefore enough for [beasts]…

Talk Like a Philosopher

In his letter to Lucilius, “On the Proper Style for a Philosopher’s Discourse” (Letter XL), Seneca comments on Lucilius’s complaints to him about a lecture he heard recently. The speaker--a philosopher by the name of Serapio--“[was] wont to wrench up his words with a mighty rush,” not letting them “flow forth one by one, but…

Under My Control?

Epictetus starts his Handbook with the reflection that “Some things are under our control, while others are not under our control.” The University of Exeter’s Stoic Week 2013 Handbook (a nifty nod to Epictetus’s HB) states: “Having a Stoic attitude means completely accepting that things outside of your control are outside of your control” (Stoic…