The Wisdom of the Stoics (1984) PDF book by Henry Hazlitt

Chosen extracts from Stoic philosophers (Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius).
The Wisdom of the Stoics



Excerpt from the author's introduction:

In comparison with the two others, the wealthy Seneca expounded only a modified Stoicism, with a much greater admixture of worldly wisdom. Yet it was he who reminded his readers: "If what you have seems insufficient to you, then, though you possess the world, you will yet be miserable." And he tells us also that "the sum of human duty" is "patience, where we are to suffer, and prudence in the things we do." When we come to Epictetus, there is no compromise with worldliness: "Let death and exile be daily before your eyes." "Better to die in hunger, exempt from grief and fear, than to live in affluence with perturbation."

Marcus is not as unfeeling as Epictetus sometimes appears to be, yet such consolation as he offers must be bought at a high price. "Let it make no difference to thee whether thou art cold or warm if thou art doing thy duty." He even tells himself at one point: "Do not then consider life a thing of any value." These quotations, we must add in fairness, give far too grim an impression of the bulk of the writings of the Stoics, most of whose advice on the conduct of life is not widely different from that given to this day by many non-Stoic philosophers. But the quotations do point to an apparent contra- dication in the Stoic system.

Content of the book
1. Introduction 2. Seneca 3. Epictetus 4. Epictetus: The Enchiridion 5. Marcus Aurelius


Author: Henry Hazlitt
Publication Date:1984
Shared by Cornel University 

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