SLRP: LXVII. On Ill-Health And Endurance Of Suffering

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Seneca,

The three categories of goods, if we can dispense for the third which is not a proper good, is useful here.  We might rephrase the categories:

Type A:  Goods we want regardless of circumstance
    – Wisdom, courage, justice, fortitude, etc.

Type B:  Goods we want in specific circumstances
    – Endurance under torture, self-control under illness, bravery and lack of perturbation in the face of death, etc.

Of course, it can be said the Type B are merely applications of A.  This may need to be restructured.  The point being, that while torture itself is not something to be wished for, should we stubble to it, we should hope to have the courage, bravery, honor, and equanimity of spirit that the good man would have under such a condition.

I remember reading a blog sometime ago, about a fellow who was a practicing Stoic.  He had been practicing for some number of years, and he was told he might have a medical issue which would take from him the sight of one eye.

He mentioned that not only was he calm in the face of this news, a piece of him was moved at the opportunity to express virtue under this new test, this circumstance of blindness in one eye.

I’m not at all entirely sure that’s the most proper outlook for one making progress, it seems to run into this injunction on proper training from Epictetus:

“We ought not to train ourselves in unnatural or extraordinary actions, for in that case we who claim to be philosophers shall be no better than mountebanks. For it is difficult to walk on a tight-rope, and not only difficult but dangerous as well…”

—Epictetus, Discourses III.12:

Seneca, you yourself also seem to tend away from this form of extreme practice.  It’ certainly something to think about.

Farewell.


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

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