Letters from a Stoic 53– Summary and Key Takeaways

               In letters from a stoic 53, Seneca narrated a story when he was traveling to a place called Parthenope in unfavorable weather. He couldn’t handle the seasickness brought about by the waves of the sea so he had to ask the pilot to go to the nearest shoreline. He then proceeded by saying the disease of the soul is worse than the disease of the body. This is because the latter gives you signs and symptoms while the former does not. “The opposite holds true of diseases of the soul; the worse one is, the less one perceives it. “ A lot of the diseases of the body (like seasickness) can easily be cured while the diseases of the soul take a lot of constant reflection.       

              In the next part of the letter, Seneca said that the only cure to the diseases of the mind and soul is through philosophy. He said that it’s as if we are in a deep slumber and the only way to wake us up – to recognize and accept our faults – is by studying philosophy. “Let us, therefore, rouse ourselves, that we may be able to correct our mistakes. Philosophy, however, is the only power that can stir us, the only power that can shake off our deep slumber. Devote yourself wholly to philosophy” 

              In the last part of the letter, interestingly, Seneca said that the sage (a master of philosophy) has advantage over god and that is free will. “There is one point in which the sage has an advantage over the god; for a god is freed from terrors by the bounty of nature, the wise man by his own bounty.” Another advantage is that we have the weakness of a man (the ability to experience bodily pleasure) and practice virtue (God-like).

*****   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 takeways here .

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