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Never Be a Slave of Your Wealth

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Let’s return to the paradox about philosophy and riches. A way to think about Seneca’s wealth as discussed by Nassim Taleb is the following: Seneca only wanted the upside of wealth but was always ready to use it and never dependent on it. He was a master of it, not its slave. All the upside, none of the downside. We need to constantly reexamine if we are so trapped by the gifts of good fortune that we are scared to lose and therefore turning it into our master. As Seneca wrote in On The Happy Life discussing his riches:

“For the wise man does not consider himself unworthy of any gifts from Fortune’s hands: he does not love wealth but he would rather have it; he does not admit into his heart but into his home; and what wealth is his he does not reject but keeps, wishing it to supply greater scope for him to practice his virtue.”

As he summed up his attitude of being a master and not a slave of good fortune: “For the wise man regards wealth as a slave, the fool as a master.”