5/30: Seneca, letter #5. On how Philosophers should behave.

Continuing my series on this Seneca work. He’s a pretty cool guy.

This letter is about how you should act, if you are a philosopher (meaning a high-minded person trying to attain more in life through thought; these days I think more people fall into that category).

// Let us try to maintain a higher standard of life than that of the multitude, but not a contrary standard; otherwise, we shall frighten away and repel the very persons whom we are trying to improve. We also bring it about that they are unwilling to imitate us in anything, because they are afraid lest they might be compelled to imitate us in everything. //

Point being, don’t wear black on the outside, because black is how you feel on the inside (Morrissey line, apologies).

But it’s pretty practical — don’t act weird if you want to think big new thoughts. If you act weird you will give people an easy way to dismiss you and that undermines your stuff ultimately.

// “Cease to hope,” he says, “and you will cease to fear.” //

This latter one is classic stoicism. If you don’t want anything, you can never be disappointed. Hard to do. But it does work. Die a little every day.