SLRP: LXXXV. On Some Vain Syllogisms (Part 3: 19b – 27)



“Liberty is lost unless we despise those things which put the yoke on our necks.”

My conception of freedom has changed significantly in the last half decade.  I read a quote by Frank Herbert, author of Dune, and it goes something like “Seek freedom and become capitve of your desires.  Seek self-discipline and find your liberty.”

I didn’t understand that as a teenager, but I’m beginning to.  

The brave man is fearless because he recognizes the things to which he may be subjected are not true evils.  Vice is slavery, and the yoke it places on us is heavy indeed.

ἄσκησις has been colored by the Christian interpretation, and by the mortifiers of the flesh of India.  But the Hellenistic sense is far different.  The goal of both Christian and Indian asceticism is a denial of the self, a stripping away until nothing is left but an experience of the divine.

Frank Herbert seems like he may have understood the Hellenistic sense.  We train not to deny the self, but to secure it.

I see mentioned often “the ego is clearly bad, what does Stoicism have to say about this?” in the groups.  Of course never defining the term.

Epictetus shows something that most like a Cartesian dualism, referring to “a little body,” “scrap of flesh,” “corpse bearing a soul,” etc.  While the Ancients seemed to have some disagreement on the import of the body, they surely did not adopt a “no-self” perspective.

Epictetus effectively identifies the self with the προαίρεσις.  To abandon that would be to deny what makes us human, it would be a gross impiety.  So it is a categorical mistake to see Stoic training as destroying their self.

Thank you for the letter.  Until next week…


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

Seneca Reading plan, redux!


About this time last year, I packed up my earthly belongings and hauled them about 1300 miles across the country.  In that moving, my Seneca reading plan fell by the wayside.  I’ll be picking it back up from where I left off, in week 27 of the reading plan.

So, those sorts of posts may become more frequent.

In a side note, I’m also doing some more reading on Stoic ἄσκησις, so expect some thoughts and posts in that vein.

Camp Seneca: Virtual Stoic Retreat



“Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: “Is this the condition that I feared?”  It is precisely in times of immunity from care that the soul should toughen itself beforehand for occasions of greater stress, and it is while Fortune is kind that it should fortify itself against her violence.  In days of peace the soldier performs manoeuvres, throws up earthworks with no enemy in sight, and wearies himself by gratuitous toil, in order that he may be equal to unavoidable toil.

Let the pallet be a real one, and the coarse cloak; let the bread be hard and grimy. Endure all this for three or four days at a time, sometimes for more, so that it may be a test of yourself instead of a mere hobby.”


I’m setting about an explicit period to re-double my efforts in regards to training.
It’ll be a 28 day period from 13-June to 11-July.

I’ll be keeping my seven precepts for the Stoic προκόπτων, which are based on the Lectures of Musonius Rufus.  Additionally I will be restricting food to one meal a day, and abstaining from intoxicants.

Anyone else who would like to join, just add in the comments and state what protocol you’re following. I’ll update in this thread periodically as well.

I’m also keeping a thread at the /r/Asceticism sub.