Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B8:1

This too is a counter to pretension, that you have lost now the chance to live your whole life, or at least your adult life, as a philosopher: indeed it has become clear to many, yourself included, that you are far from philosophy. You are tarnished, then: difficult for you now to win the reputation of a philosopher, and besides your station in life is a contrary pull. So if you have a true perception of how things lie, abandon any concern for reputation, and be satisfied if you can just live the rest of your life, whatever remains, in the way your nature wishes. You must consider, then, what those wishes are, and then let nothing else distract you. You know from experience that in all your wanderings you have nowhere found the good life - not in logic, not in wealth, not in glory, not in indulgence: nowhere. Where then is it to be found? In doing what man's nature requires. And how is he to do this? By having principles to govern his impulses and actions. What are these principles? Those of good and evil - the belief that nothing is good for a human being which does not make him just, self-controlled, brave, and free: and nothing evil which does not make him the opposite of these.

Where is the good life?  Does it lie with fame?  Wealth?  Ease and relaxation?  World travels and adrenaline thrills?  Indulgences and pleasure?  I'd wager, given enough time, any one of these would eventually cause boredom and discontent.  Indeed, for some, the time it takes to become discontent may take longer, but I'd wager eventually any person would not be fully satisfied with endless fame, wealth, ease, relaxation, travels, thrills, indulgences and pleasures.

Marcus too, tried a life of logic, wealth, glory and indulgence and was never satisfied.  He finally was convinced that satisfaction and contentment was in living a life according to nature.

What does a life lived according to nature look like?  It is the application of the discipline of assent (we don't give into impulses; rather we meditate and work to widen that gap between impulse and thoughtless action).  A life lived according to nature is a life of virtue and pursuit and attainments of excellence of character (arete).  Virtue is the sole good; the virtues being wisdom, justice, temperance and courage.  These virtues and principals are what ought to govern our impulses to action.  Furthermore, it is a life lived in service to others (social duties in the application of the discipline of action).  And lastly it is a life that accepts that God, the Gods, Fate or the Universe sends to him or her.  It is a life in which he or she truly loves his or her fate.

(see also Citadel p. 270)

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