SLRP: XXXIII. On The Futility Of Learning Maxims



“I shall indeed use the old road, but if I find one that makes a shorter cut and is smoother to travel, I shall open the new road. Men who have made these discoveries before us are not our masters, but our guides. Truth lies open for all; it has not yet been monopolized. And there is plenty of it left even for posterity to discover.”

This has long been, ironically, one of my favorite quips from your Letters.  It is true, that at some point we must actually produce ideas of our own, a shock I know.  But as you say, for the young (in philosophy in not in age) learning the dogma of the teachers who have come before is more than useful, it’s necessary.

The world is full of shallow and superficial philosophies, which sound deep and meaningful to the uninitiated.  It’s not challenge to produce such utterances.  The practice and ability of discerning where the the depth actually lies is one worth cultivating, however.

I’m content, at this point, to be the student.  I’m content to do much more listening that talking.  Thank you for the letter.


Part of Michel Daw’s Reading Plan of Seneca’s Letters.

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