SLRP: LXXXIII. On Drunkenness (Part 1: 1 – 7)

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Seneca,

“At any rate, it is thus that we should live, – as if we lived in plain sight of all men; and it is thus that we should think, – as if there were someone who could look into our inmost souls; and there is one who can so look. For what avails it that something is hidden from man? Nothing is shut off from the sight of God. He is witness of our souls, and he comes into the very midst of our thoughts – comes into them, I say, as one who may at any time depart.”

I have not been doing a very good job at doing the morning and evening review.  I will take your letter as an invitation to begin the practice again.  I think I will change the manner somewhat, however.

Previously, I would do so quietly and internally while waiting for sleep.  I also tried handwriting out in a journal using a three-fold set of questions:

  • That which I did well the day.
  • That which I did ill the day.
  • That which I have left undone.

Yet, I think this too narrow a focus, and doesn’t provide for the kind of introspection and review that the exercise required.  Henceforth, I will think I type out my review, beginning with a diary-like accounting of the day, and then finishing by way of summary with my three points above.

Thank you for the timely reminder.  Although the purpose of today’s letter has yet to be uncovered, this was a needed sentiment.

Farewell.


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

SLRP: 5.LXXXIII. On Drunkenness (Part 3: 19b – 27)

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Seneca,

When the strength of wine has become too great and has gained control over the mind, every lurking evil comes forth from its hiding-place. Drunkenness does not create vice, it merely brings it into view…

It has long been my contention that intoxication of this sort does not bring about new evils.  It simply rearranges priorities.  As you note, the lustful man does not hide his vice, nor does the cruel man but become more cruel.  Alcohol and the like seem not to create new evils, but only bring them to the surface.

There are, perhaps, other more rare vices which do seem to change the quality of the person, if not with a single use but through prolonged exposure.  The heartily addicted sometime seem this way.

It is still due to ignorance that mean do evil:

[T]hat what men call pleasures are punishments as soon as they have exceeded due bounds

All are deprived of truth against their will.  It is through a misunderstanding good and evil that folks seek escape or (incorrect) therapy for their passions.  You will sometimes see it claimed that addiction is moral problem, not a criminal one.

I generally agree with this sentiment, but would take a Stoic turn.  It’s not that person needs to be saved to change their behavior, but that they must instead learn to distinguish between what’s good and evil, and what’s up to us and what’s not.  In short, they must learn to diaresize, and master the προαίρεσις.  It’s not a moral failing, but a moral blindness.

Farewell.


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