Stōïkos II

Notes:

I. Stoicism is characterized by a rejection of pleasure as the standard of human happiness and human felicity. Stoicism takes the position that the wise man —the good man, the philosopher— is a man who lives in accordance with nature. He fears only abdicating his moral responsibility. He is not afraid of pain; he is not afraid of death; he is not afraid of poverty’ he is not afraid of any of the vicissitudes of the human condition. He fears only that he should let himself down, and that he should be less than a complete human being.

II. Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius.

III. The stoic man is never any place but home. His polis is the kosmos.

IV. Marcus Aurelius is a standing reproach to our weakness, to our self-indulgence; to our willingness to give in to what we want; to our inclination to make excuses about things that are entirely up to us, and to try and act as if we are[sic] not responsible for our behavior.

V. We might wanna say that Marcus Aurelius is an important step in the construction of the Western conception of the self, or the ego.

VI. The key idea behind Marcus Aurelius is something like this: that it’s just the human condition for us to have troubles and worries and anxieties and problems. Don’t torture yourself by worrying about things that aren’t in your control —leave that in the hands of God, leave that in the hands of nature. Do your best to control the things that you do have control over: yourself, your behavior, your intentions, and your actions. If you do that, you will live a blessed and happy and virtuous and wise life. You will be a real human being. If you fail to do that, gradually, the inclination towards debauchery, evil, vice, sin —to put it in theological terms— will become greater and greater. And unless you can arrest this slide towards self-indulgence, you will harm yourself, and you will harm the people around you.

VII. The stoic man says that a virtue that is possible for one man is accessible to all of us. There is no excuse for us not being that good. If we provide such excuses for ourselves, we harm ourselves and we harm others, by preventing us from recognizing our true moral obligations.

VIII. Marcus Aurelius let’s us know that all people suffer, but not all people pity themselves. Marcus Aurelius let’s us know that all men die, but that not all men die whining.

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