SLRP: XXXIX. On Noble Aspirations



Your letter today touches on a point I have been thinking about lately, as well as discussing with others.  There is a trend in modern Stoicism to boil down the philosophy to set of points or “lifehacks.”  These are the tricks, which when improperly applied, are said to bring about worldly success, and every other manner of indifferent.  Yet, that’s being touted as the goal!

There are a number of “pop Stoicism” books, some are distillations of Stoic doctrine, but necessarily superficial.  Others are theurapeutic, and still more are of the “lifehack” variety.

The society today is lazy and impatient.  It demands the quick fix, material success, worldly acclaim, and every other manner of luxury.  Worse yet, it demands it immediately, without work, without cost.  It believe itself to be truly entitled to everything.

They only things it ignores are character, excellence, wisdom.

When you see these see mentioned, it’s couched in a sort of New Age ‘woo,’ which plays on all of the flaws above.  Books like “The Secret,” and variants of new-age hippy philosophy.

They all lack depth.

The idea that one might study and work for the betterment of one’s own soul is something which, if found at all, would be relegated to the church house.  And when found there, it’s only of a very particular sort.

No, the claims of philosophy are left dusty on the shelf, a mere curiosity to a handful of academics and intellectual masturbators.  Where are those living “philosophy as a way of life?”


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

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