Anger: Marcus Aurelius

Stoicism is not about repressing emotions — it’s about not allowing emotion to override reason. But emotions such as anger and fear most easily override reason. From Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Why feel anger at the world? It’s not like the world would notice (7.38). When you lose your temper, or even feel irritated, remember thatContinue reading “Anger: Marcus Aurelius”

Marcus Aurelius: Death

In his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius seems preoccupied with death. But context matters. Infant mortality was high in the ancient world, and plague (which Marcus contracted but survived) was a constant threat. Marcus also spent much of his reign on the battlefield.  From Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Death is no loss Death: something like birth, a natural mystery, elementsContinue reading “Marcus Aurelius: Death”

Marcus Aurelius: Meditations on justice & providence

Marcus Aurelius claimed that everything that happens is just (4.10). This is so because divine providence determines everything (4.26). But his view is irrational because if everything is just then injustice doesn’t exist. Yet, if justice – the basis of all Stoic virtue (11.10) – is moot then Stoic virtue also is moot. Ancient Epicureans criticized Stoicism alongContinue reading “Marcus Aurelius: Meditations on justice & providence”

Marcus Aurelius and the soul

Ancient Stoic belief saw human beings as having a spark of the divine. Today that’s often seen as a metaphor for the human capacity for reason. From Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Soul as a spark of the divine “To live with the gods.” To do that is to show them that your soul accepts what itContinue reading “Marcus Aurelius and the soul”

Marcus Aurelius & Meditations: A 300 word summary

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is a brilliant read, but not an easy one. Marcus called it To Himself. It’s a journal, not a polished book. He jumps from topic to topic, then back to the same topic, with many repetitions. What are the major themes? In future posts I’ll go into detail. For now I’ll sayContinue reading “Marcus Aurelius & Meditations: A 300 word summary”

Reflections on Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations

Meditations is a disjointed book. It’s the personal journal of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 121-180), which he called “To Himself.” He didn’t intend for it to be published, so he didn’t bother to do much polishing. Aurelius’s journal rambles a bit. But his perspective comes down to the notion that, “All is as thinkingContinue reading “Reflections on Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations”