The Daily Stoic for August 14th, “This Isn’t For Fun. It’s For Life”.

“Philosophy isn’t a parlor trick or made for show. It’s not concerned with words, but with facts. It’s not employed for some pleasure before the day is spent, or to relieve the uneasiness of our leisure. It shapes and builds up the soul, it gives order to life, guides action, shows what should and shouldn’t be done—it sits at the rudder steering our course as we vacillate in uncertainties. Without it, no one can live without fear or free from care. Countless things happen every hour that require advice, and such advice is to be sought out in philosophy.”

—SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 16.3

I’m not quite sure I agree with today’s stoic excerpt. It tells a story about Cato. Apparently, he one day found out that another philosopher, Carneades, was bashing against the same concept of justice that he was poetically supporting the previous day.

So what did Cato do? he “… lobbied the Senate to have Carneades sent back to Athens, where he could no longer corrupt the Roman youth with his rhetorical tricks…”.

This Isn’t For Fun. It’s For Life

I don’t know about you, but that sounds terrible to me for a series of reasons.

To begin with, I find the behavior of Cato quite exclusionary. It’s basically censorship. “I don’t want you to corrupt young minds by teaching them different points of view about the same idea!”.

But most importantly, I’ve always thought that there very few absolute truths. Most concepts in life are subjective, and have a bright and a dark side.

Today’s stoic excerpt affirms that, for Stoics, “the idea of idly discussing some issue—of believing or arguing two contradictory ideas—is an absurd waste of time, energy, and belief”. While I understand the value of being coherent with your values and ideas, this in my mind verges on arrogance.

During the years, I’ve done lots of different things, and I have changed my mind about very important topics lots of times. That gives you the ability to be flexible and open-minded. As there’s nothing completely white or black, am proud of being able to see the beauty of the concept of justice while acknowledging its drawbacks and flaws.

This stoic meditation just seems to me too close-minded and haughty to agree with.

Conclusion

I can’t really agree with today’s Daily Stoic, “This Isn’t For Fun. It’s For Life”. I think seeing both sides of the coin makes us more open-minded, and things are rarely completely right or wrong

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