Your Occasional Stoic – Cast Away Your Thirst for Knowledge

All that is from the gods is full of Providence. That which is from fortune is not separated from nature or without an interweaving and involution with the things which are ordered by Providence. From this all things flow; and there is besides necessity, and that which is for the advantage of the whole universe, of which you are a part.

But that is good for every part of nature which the nature of the whole brings, and what serves to maintain this nature. Now the universe is preserved, as by the changes of the elements, so by the changes of things compounded of the elements. Let these principles be enough for you. Let them always be fixed opinions. But cast away the thirst after books, that you will not die murmuring, but cheerfully, truly, and from thy heart thankful to the gods.

Meditations 2,3

marcus-aurelius

  • There’s a hint here at stoic physics, an area of the philosophy that does not get much attention these days. Stoics believed the physical world was in a state of constant change with every object constantly changes and reconfiguring. They weren’t really that far off. Just like the universe
  • I recently finished Edith Hamilton’s the Greek Way. Not a very good book, but it did include one insight that would have been obvious to a better educated reader than I – stoicism contains more than a whif of anti-intellectualism. Life, and living it well are what is important. Socratic type philosophizing for the sake of rumination and pointless learning is not valued.

 

Marcus is interested in ideas, but only so far as they allow him to perfect himself, not as an end until itself. Here, we differ. I like nothing more than a pointless intellectual exercise. Indeed pointless intellectual exercises are what I live for.

 

I would have a made a poor stoic (and a poor empororer).

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About seanv2

Scholar, gentleman, jock. I run the website Milo and the Calf. There you will find the Boston Qualifier Questionnaire where runners share their stories of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. You'll also find my thoughts on endurance sports, ancient history, Judaism, and hundreds of book reviews.
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