Seneca on misfortune’s bright side

Seneca’s “On Providence” attempts to address the question of why bad things happen to brave, virtuous people. While some aspects of the essay are problematic, he does make a strong case for turning to philosophy now to learn to withstand adversity when it inevitably comes. Seneca highlights the basic Stoic precept that external events are indifferent,…

Epictetus’ Handbook: Three Ways to Readjust your Thinking

Epictetus’ Handbook* is ancient wisdom for the modern attention span. I am perpetually juggling work and home responsibilities and tend to have ten half-read books on my nightstand. It is not a badge of honor, but a curse. I have read only a few of the Discourses but have actually read all of the Handbook. It spans…

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]…