Books Indians Should Read- 14 (Post No.8499)

WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8499

Date uploaded in London – – – 13 August 2020   

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                   Books Indians Should Read- 14

                         Chapter 5 – Part 2


Ancient philosophy for modern times

We tend to think of philosophy as an academic discipline or intellectual exercise. But in

the ancient world, it was considered a guide to practical life. Stoicism is one of the ancient

Greek philosophies, very influential in its day. The ancient Greeks were interested in the

‘good life’ or happiness. They found its key in “virtue” or virtuous conduct, which is

reflected in a life devoted to “self-control, courage, justice, and wisdom”. They felt that

virtue alone was sufficient for happiness.

Stoicism is ultimately a manual on ‘how to live’-  system of ethics based on logic – “the

highest point to which man can attain by the mere use of his faculty of reason”,

as the modern philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said
It holds that there are things which are beyond our control, and it is wisdom

to accept this. (Cosmic determinism.) Our freedom consists in ordering our life,

in the light of reason, subject to and in accordance with this imperative. 
This attitude focuses on the present, and avoids giving in to desire for pleasure, or fear

of pain. We have to use our mind to understand nature around us and conduct our life in

accordance with its plan. This necessarily involves living in harmony with others, based

on justice and fair play.

Formally, its origins have been traced to the  Greek philosopher Zeno  of Citium in the third

century BC. He taught in Athens.

CC By-SA 4.0

Creative commons via Wikimedia Commons.

It flourished in Greece and later in Rome till the third century AD. It declined later due to

the organised  onslaught of Christianity . Its great advocates and practitioners were

Epictetus, Seneca, Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Musonius Rufus, Posidonius, etc. Throughout

the ages, it has had many admirers and advocates among the great minds: Emerson, Walt

Whitman, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Adam Smith,

Immanuel Kant, Matthew Arnold, etc. 

Stoic wisdom in daily doses

In this admirable book, Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman bring to us the wisdom of the

Stoics in the form of short quotes from the famous practitioners, one for a day. The book has

 a short but admirable introduction, giving the essence of the philosophy focused solely

on practice. 

The Stoic wisdom is organised under three disciplines of Perception, Action, and Will.

Under each is grouped important quotations on  themes for daily reflection and practice.

Short notes accompany each quotation that aid understanding . 

The Discipline of Perception relates to  the right understanding of the world- how we

perceive the world around us. This involves our mind and reason, as it is our mind which

interprets the world!

The Discipline of Action relates to how we act in the world, what decisions we take,

their motives and aim.

The Discipline of Will relates to developing true understanding of our place in the world,

learning to deal with things we cannot change.

                                                           ***                      to be continued

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