How to Study Like Stoic - 7 Rules for Practical reading

How to Study Like Stoic




We all know our life maybe is shorter than this book on our table. we also know that less than 10 percent of the books that we have read have unique ideas and practical benefits. most books are similar in ideas, you read a book and you feel you had read it before because the ideas are repetitive and sometimes valueless.

1- The first Advice is to limit your reading to few authors or a few topics since "who is everywhere, he is nowhere" as Seneca said in his moral essays.
We must limit our reading to our specialized study and our stronger interest. Though novels can be useful, we can learn language and morals but it is very rare to find moral value or practical benefits in most novels these days where the authors target teenagers.

So, In my opinion, we should limit our interest to non-fiction and practical books. and to things make us the best versions of ourselves. since life is not predictable we should make the best of our time.

2 - The second Advice from Marcus Aurelius' thoughts, he told himself to never do anything without an end or resolve. so we should know what we want to learn from this course or this book. why I am reading this book. is it for fun or to help me in my studies or to show off that I have read that book?

I have to know the outcome of my action before I start 

3- The third piece of Advice from Marcus Aurelius also told himself to do everything as it were his last thing to do. It needs concentration and caring about small details in your study. ignore our past and programmed ideas because awareness and life exist only in this moment.

4 - All are opinions, Stoics and Cynics believed that the meaning is not in things themselves but the opinions that we gave to them.  so in studying we know to know the difference between facts and opinion, so we study we should distinguish between facts and opinions. we do not need to believe everything because we have read it in a book or an authority told us. we need to reason it first. we should use the critical faculty to know the reality of things. that does not mean ignore proven scientific facts. 


5-  Taking notes of important points. when we study we want to get value.  authors sometimes try to fill the books with relatively unimportant pages outside the main idea,. so we need to be aggressive with the book, trying to get what is for us in it, write what we learned from it. we see in Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus wrote many important maxims and excerpts from other philosophers and added in their writings. as Seneca said: " The best ideas are public property.", so quality over quantity.


6- Reading without applying is just wasting time and energy. Seneca insists on the practical purpose of studying and reading:  “Each day acquire something that will fortify you against poverty, against death, indeed against other misfortunes as well; and after you have run over many thoughts, select one to be thoroughly digested that day". We need to make our reading purposeful.



7 -The importance of studying logic: Marcus Aurelius did not much care about logic. He thanked Rusticus -Quintus Iunius Rusticus, statesman and Stoic-that he had 'not been diverted into an enthusiasm for sophistry or into writing books about theorems or delivering protreptic little arguments' (I vii 2); and he thanked the gods themselves that 'when I longed for philosophy I did not fall in with a sophist or sit down and write books1 or analyze syllogisms-or spend my time on meteorology' (I xvii 22). After all, he reflected, you will no more find happiness in a deduction than in riches or reputation (VIII i 5)


Adam Sherif 

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