Seneca the Younger and Good Life

Topics: Seneca the Younger, Stoicism, Virtue Pages: 4 (1240 words) Published: March 13, 2009
Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c. 1 BCE ' CE 65), one of the most famous later Stoic philosophers who had a huge contribution to the Stoicism in Roman Imperial Period, claimed that practicing philosophy is the only way to live a good live (Cooper and Procope 1995: xv; Seneca Letter XC Ex. 1). It was a very brave statement at that time and has been a controversy until now. This essay will explain what philosophy and good life are in Seneca’s view, then consider the role of philosophy, and finally extend the reasons why that assertion cannot be accepted.

According to the Costa (1997: xv-xvii), Stoicism that was founded by Zeno had the most influence to Seneca’s beliefs about philosophy. Therefore, his philosophy was inclined to the stoic system. He believes “… philosophy as a mistress was grounded on a belief that her end was the practical one of curing souls, of bringing peace and order to the feverish minds of men pursuing the wrong aims in life” (Campbell 2004: 19).

Moreover, he differed between philosophy and practical knowledge that discovered some techniques employed in everyday life (Seneca Letter XC Extract 7-11). Philosophy emphasizes the question of how to live well as a human being, while practical thought emphasizes the question of how to live easy. An illustration, modern achievements of engineering that are used now, for instance high building that can endanger a lot of people both inside and outside and keys and bolts on doors to protect the wealth, are not philosophy’s deeds, but practical thought’s (Seneca Letter XC Extract 7-11).

Seneca also believes that philosophy has an important role in human life in order to get a good life. As reported by Seneca (Letter XC Extract 26-27) “philosophy is a direction in which she opens routes and guides us”. Hence, only philosophy that can bring us to have a good life because “she will encourage us to submit to God with cheerfulness and to fortune with defiance; she will show you how to follow God and bear...
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