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Stoic Meditations

Stoic Meditations

By Massimo Pigliucci
Occasional reflections on the wisdom of Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers. More at Please consider supporting Stoic Meditations. (cover art by Marek Škrabák; original music by Ian Jolin-Rasmussen,
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80. Fate, God, or Chance, it doesn't really matter

Stoic Meditations

778. Are you a fox or a lion?
Although we are capable of writing and reading these sentiments, although we can praise them as we read, yet they do not bring conviction to us, nor anything like it.
January 26, 2021
777. The difference between an amateur and a craftsman
How will those who know despise one who is gentle and self-respecting? By those who do not know? What do you care for them? No craftsman cares for those who have no skill!
January 25, 2021
776. The real value of people, and apples
Is everything judged by its outward form alone? On that principle you must call your waxen apple an apple. No, it must smell and taste like an apple: the outward semblance is not enough.
January 22, 2021
775. Developing a better understanding of things
Either you’re going to be depressed when your wish is not realized or foolishly pleased with yourself if it is, overjoyed for the wrong reasons.
January 21, 2021
774. Our obsession with control
The more we value things outside our control, the less control we have.
January 20, 2021
773. Just pay attention
Very little is needed for everything to be upset and ruined, only a slight lapse in reason. It’s much easier for a mariner to wreck his ship than it is for him to keep it sailing safely.
January 19, 2021
772. What did you lose, and what did you gain?
If you forfeit an external possession, make sure to notice what you get in return. If it is something more valuable, never say, ‘I have suffered a loss.’
January 11, 2021
771. Changing friends
Formerly, when you were devoted to worthless pursuits, your friends found you congenial company. But you can’t be a hit in both roles. To the extent you cultivate one you will fall short in the other.
January 8, 2021
770. The problem with hyper-consumerism
Freedom is not achieved by satisfying desire, but by eliminating it.
January 7, 2021
769. Natural goodness
A plant or animal fares poorly when it acts contrary to its nature; and a human being is no different. Well, then, biting, kicking, wanton imprisonment and beheading–is that what our nature entails? No; rather, acts of kindness, cooperation and good will.
January 6, 2021
768. What truly belongs to you
Whoever told you, ‘Walking is your irrevocable privilege’? I said only that the will to walk could not be obstructed.
January 5, 2021
767. Learning the art of living
What makes for freedom and fluency in the practice of writing? Knowledge of how to write. The same goes for the practice of playing an instrument. It follows that, in the conduct of life, there must be a science to living well.
January 4, 2021
766. The true nature of freedom
So you admit that you have at least one master. And don’t let the fact that Caesar rules over everyone, as you say, console you: it only means that you’re a slave in a very large household.
January 1, 2021
765. Not bad person lives a happy life
Who wants to live with delusion and prejudice, being unjust, undisciplined, mean and ungrateful? ‘No one.’ No bad person, then, lives the way he wants, and no bad person is free.
December 31, 2020
764. The purpose of philosophizing
Everyone is fond of contemplation. Some make it the object of their lives: to us it is an anchorage, but not a harbor.
December 30, 2020
763. The three types of philosophy of life
There are three kinds of life, and it is a stock question which of the three is the best: the first is devoted to pleasure, the second to contemplation, the third to action.
December 29, 2020
762. Do something for posterity
What is the sage’s purpose in devoting themselves to leisure? They know that in leisure as well as in action they will accomplish something by which they will be of service to posterity.
December 28, 2020
761. Achieve balance in life
It is by no means desirable that one should merely strive to accumulate property without any love of virtue. Similarly, virtue placed in leisure without action is but an incomplete and feeble good thing, because she never displays what she has learned.
December 24, 2020
760. Put to practice your inquiring disposition
We have a habit of saying that the highest good is to live according to nature: now nature has produced us for both purposes, for contemplation and for action. … Nature has [also] bestowed upon us an inquiring disposition.
December 23, 2020
759. How to better serve the human cosmopolis
We are born by accident into a specific nation, but we naturally belong to the human cosmopolis. Reflecting on the nature of virtue and practi