Letters from a Stoic 16 – Summary and Key Takeaways

              In letters from a stoic 16, Seneca stressed the importance of philosophy – the love for wisdom. “. Philosophy…. moulds and constructs the soul; it orders our life, guides our conduct, shows us what we should do and what we should leave undone; it sits at the helm and directs our course as we waver amid uncertainties. Without it, no one can live fearlessly or in peace of mind. Countless things that happen every hour call for advice; and such advice is to be sought in philosophy.” In other words, philosophy works like blueprint that guides us in our lives.  The wise old man said that although fate has already been predetermined for us (as what the stoics believe) we still need philosophy to give us strength and courage in times of adversities and to accept whatever things are destined to happen to us.

              In the last part of the letter, Seneca talked about a core Stoic principle – to live in accordance with nature.  In particular, he wants Lucilius to be contented with the basic necessities nature requires. Accumulation of things such as wealth and social approval has no limit. Quoting from Epicurus he said,” If you live according to nature, you will never be poor; if you live according to opinion, you will never be rich.” The stoics believed that virtues alone are sufficient to make us, all within our control. Anything outside that such as wealth, power, fame, and other people’s opinions are limitless. As Seneca puts it beautifully, “Nature’s wants are slight; the demands of opinion are boundless.

*****   Letters from a Stoic Key Takeaways is a collection of short key takeaways from the letters sent by Seneca to Lucilius. Read each letter’s key takeaways here .

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