SLRP: XXXIV. On A Promising Pupil and XXXV.On The Friendship Of Kindred Minds

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Seneca,

I received two of your letters today, and it seems to me that there is a commonality between them.  In the first, you extol the praises of your student, and you remark on the relationship between teacher and student.  In the second, you remark on the relationship between friends, and the bonds of love.

This has me thinking, in many traditions (and based upon your first letter, even in ours) the teacher-student lineage is an important one.  Oftentimes, in historical analysis, we can detect some … creative heritage making.  It’s important to be able to trace back a lineage, for most folks, as some guarantee of authenticity in the teachings.

We Stoics work to draw our lineage to Socrates, as do the Cynics (a bit tenuous, there).

Aside from pedagogical authenticity, I wonder if there’s some good reason for such a pedagogical lineage.  Maybe it’s the case that we’re unable to see our own progress, and even if we’re progressing in the correct ways and correct things.  If that’s the case, then the role of a teacher/mentor is indispensable.

Maybe we moderns are floundering without the rigor which a teacher can provide.  We can see in the writings of Musonius and Epictetus that they lay a firm hold on their students’ education in virtue.

We lack Stoic teachers.  We are all students floundering and splashing around in the pool and we call it swimming.

Farewell.


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

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