Sunday, March 4, 2018

Commentary on Meditations: B12:33-35

How does your directing mind employ itself? This is the whole issue. All else, of your own choice or not, is just corpse and smoke.

The clearest call to think nothing of death is the fact that even those who regard pleasure as a good and pain as an evil have nevertheless thought nothing of death.

For one whose only good is what comes in its own proper season, who is equally content with a greater or lesser opportunity to express true reason in his actions, to whom it makes no difference whether he looks on this world for a longer or a shorter time - for him even death has no terrors.

The great question: what do you do with your life and all that time?  This is, as Marcus says, "the whole issue."  Everything else is nothing (smoke and dead bodies).  I've been listening to a podcast with Ed Latimore.  In the interview, he talks about this interaction he had with his girlfriend.  He had an anti-education / intellectual attitude and seemed to deride his friend for her scholastic efforts.  She then asked him what he had to show for his life - what could he point to that he had accomplished.  He didn't have anything - he was nothing.  It was at that point he decided to master something.  For Stoics, the question is: how will you use your directing mind?  Wasting away chasing indifferents?  Or pursuing a life of virtue?

In chapter 34 of Book 12, Marcus makes the observation that even those people who chase nothing but pleasure don't even worry about death.  Then neither should Stoics.

In the following chapter (35) of Book 12, Marcus paints a picture of what death looks like to a Stoic.  For a Stoic, he or she is content when things come naturally.  A Stoic is content to express true reason in any opportunity (big or small).  For a Stoic, a long or short life makes no different.  Therefore, there is no fear of death.

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