The Chief Good

The Chief Good

The Chief Good

  Introduction In this article we will explore the epicurean notions of wellbeing my primary source is book one of Cicero’s De Finibus in which Lucius Torquatus delivers a broad outline of epicurean ethics. (Lucius Manlius Torquatus was an ancient Roman statesman and military general during the later Roman Republic. Torquatus was an epicurean as revealed in Cicero’s De Finibus written in 45BC which accounted philosophical discourses of Cicero’s younger days. He was friends with Marcus Junius Brutus and the esteemed Roman polymath Marcus Tullius Cicero.)   The epicurean pleasure ‘The chief good, the chief good!’ This phrase was all the

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Socrates the Athenian whom I admire…

Socrates the Athenian whom I admire…

I’ve recently finished reading and re-reading the Apology of Socrates, which is a highly recommended read and full of sage advice and insights into how one should live a good life and in particular how one should face our impending doom. The dignity of the man’s defence of his life and the equanimity with which he faced his doom is a powerful lesson to us all. Plato’s description of Socrates clearly revealed him to be the wisest man in Athens whose greatness has never been realised since. Socrates refused to be consumed by fear, brushed aside the superstitious beliefs of

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Epictetus on insulting behavior and character assassination…

Epictetus on insulting behavior and character assassination…

When I was a kid, going to school and growing up in the 1970’s the adults around us used to encourage us to be unbothered or indifferent to the name calling of others. My mother had a mantra which went like this. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me…” If any other children in the playground tried to belittle me with an insult I was advised to simply repeat the above to them. Without knowing how exactly, my mother was and today remains a natural stoic. Stoicism requires honesty to oneself and a willingness

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Stoic Paradoxes – Paradox 6 That the wise man alone is rich

Stoic Paradoxes – Paradox 6 That the wise man alone is rich

  We finally arrive at the last paradox; Paradox VI. That the wise man alone is rich. Cicero gives us his definition, revealed later, on what makes us rich and it’s not the common definition; this is why it has the making of a paradox! I will use the word affluent to describe wealthy in material possessions and money instead of rich to avoid confusion. This is addressed either to Marcus Brutus or Marcus Licinius Crassus (being the most affluent man in Rome) I’m assuming the former is being addressed because Crassus was already dead at the time of this

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The Tyranny of Positive Thinking

The Tyranny of Positive Thinking

I’ve got an app on my desktop that helpfully shows me little philosophical proverbs and quotes, every day. It’s been very good in the recent past but has crossed the line lately by outputting one-liners like this… “Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being positive about what could go right,” Author – Unknown. As respectable stoic I disapprove of and would ask everyone to ignore ‘happy-clappy, you can do it,’ nonsense such as this because we have no need of philosophical pornography. Whilst well intentioned and undoubtedly sincere, trippy one-liners that are exuberantly positive contribute endlessly

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The Stoic approach to life and death.

The Stoic approach to life and death.

“Nobody is born on purpose,” that’s an oft-quoted remark from one of my favourite tv shows at the moment, namely ‘Rick and Morty,’ that underlines a profound truth, that as far as we know, nobody really is born on purpose. The reason why I say ‘as far as we know,’ is that as philosophers we’re only concerned with this life, the one that we are living right now, the life that we didn’t ask for but are nevertheless existing within. We do not know anything about the validity of other lifetimes whether in heaven, a pre-existence in a god-like realm

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Stoic Paradoxes – Paradox 5 That the wise man alone is free, and that every fool is a slave.

Stoic Paradoxes – Paradox 5 That the wise man alone is free, and that every fool is a slave.

Now to enter the world of Paradox V. That the wise man alone is free, and that every fool is a slave. As part of the commentary of Cicero’s Stoic Paradoxes. Be mindful that the word slavery has a special meaning here as will be revealed.   A detour into the ideal military leader   Though not a military man himself, Cicero begins by talking about the ideal disposition military generals should possess as part of their character; Cicero then goes on to comment: “But how or over what free man will he exercise control who can not command his

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Stoic Paradoxes – Paradox 4 That Every Fool Is A Madman

Stoic Paradoxes – Paradox 4 That Every Fool Is A Madman

Now to attend to Paradox IV – That every fool is a madman. This one’s only two pages long! However Mark Webb in his CICERO’S PARADOXA STOICORUM:A NEW TRANSLATION WITH PHILOSOPHICAL COMMENTARY for this paradox he says: ‘There is a substantial lacuna in the text here, after which the title paradox, that every fool is insane, is abandoned and two other paradoxes are taken up. They have been identified by Molager and Lee as “Every fool is an exile” and “The wise man cannot be harmed.” Very probably the end of paradox four and the beginning of the other has

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Musonius Rufus – How to Live by Ben White – Book Review

Musonius Rufus – How to Live by Ben White – Book Review

“Virtue isn’t simply theoretical knowledge-it is also practical application-just like the arts of medicine and music.” White, Ben. Musonius Rufus on How to live. I really like the ancient Stoics, and I particularly like the work of Marcus Aurelius and Musonius Rufus, because it’s self-evident that these men more than many others lived their work, and used their philosophy throughout their daily lives as a tool for correct living and self-improvement. Gaius Musonius Rufus was born around about 20-30 AD and was famous in Rome by the time of Nero a renowned teacher of Stoicism and was strongly associated with

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Stoic Paradoxes – Paradox 3 All the vices and all the virtues are equal

Stoic Paradoxes – Paradox 3 All the vices and all the virtues are equal

  As this series continues on exploring these paradoxes by Cicero, I endeavour to uncover and mine out the topics of each paradox. The next we come across is Paradox III – All the vices and all virtues are equal.   The measure of crime   At the beginning, Cicero, being the statesman he is, tells us what the measure of a crime is: “The matter it may be said is a trifle, but the crime is enormous; for crimes are not to be measured by the issue of events, but from the bad intentions of men” As Rome’s best

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