SLRP: LXXIII. On Philosophers And Kings (Part 1: 1 – 8)


Dear Seneca,

I suspect we’re set about to disagree, here.  It strikes me that one who himself fled (and rightly) from public life would turn about and extol beyond measure the machinations of the state.

“No, not unless you think that the wise man is so unfair as to believe that as an individual he owes nothing in return for the advantages which he enjoys with all the rest.”

Should the slave be thankful for his master, who despite the taking of all of the fruits of his labor, gives him a meager pallet on which to sleep, just enough food to work, and none of the freedom and liberty which is the birthright of all mankind?

It seems, but the argument that he philosopher owes a debt for the provisions of the State, you would agree with the above.  The kidnapper who feeds the kidnapped is not virtuous because he keeps his prey fed.

“These goods, however, are indivisible, – l mean peace and liberty, – and they belong in their entirety to all men just as much as they belong to each individual.”

Yet the men behind the levers of the state are freer, at greater liberty, and protected from the harshness of wars and crime.  Their position is built on the reduction of the citizens’ power.  Every state power is a theft of the popular power.

The philosopher, instead, should turn a critical eye to those things which are ingrained through society and schooling as necessary for life.  The state as it is, is one of those.


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

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