The Daily Stoic for June 17th. “Offense Or Defense?”
“Fortune doesn’t have the long reach we suppose, she can only lay siege to those who hold her tight. So, let’s step back from her as much as possible.”
—SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 82.5b–6
I sincerely don’t know what to think about today’s stoic excerpt.
“… now compare that view with Seneca’s. Not only is he saying that the more you struggle with fortune, the more vulnerable you are to it, but he’s also saying that the better path to security is in the “impregnable wall” of philosophy.”
Greed is not a nice personality treat. I think we can all agree with it. However, I tend to be wary when Seneca talks about money, fortune, or greed:
Being one of the richest and more influential people in Rome, he probably could afford not taking or wanting money from anyone.
However, for us, ordinary mortals, sometimes taking the money is a necessity. Sometimes we want the money only because we need it. Seneca won’t probably understand that, but sometimes you cannot afford to refuse it for freedom’s sake.
Offense Or Defense?
The same applies here. I guess it was easy for him to speak about how to tame down fortune with the help of philosophy. However, I am not sure that applies to our present times. Does that mean that I should quit being an entrepreneur to live a simpler life as a pizza delivery boy?
Is avarice making me a terrible person? I don’t want to work 45-60 hours a week until I am 67 and can retire to hopefully live 5-10 years without having to work… Does that turns me into this person living in “a strategy of endless, exhausting offense”?
If that’s the case, I don’t think Seneca’s opinion (or this stoic teaching) resonates a lot with me. I know that what matters, in the end, is living a happy, fulfilled life, surrounded by the people you care about. But I don’t think we should all settle for a conformist life. Ambition is not at odds with happiness. Only obsession and greed are.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Offense Or Defense?”, does not really resonate with me. One of the things that probably Seneca didn’t understand, being one of the richest and most influencing people of his time, the struggles of a small entrepreneur of the 21st century.
What’s your opinion?