The Roman poet and satirist Juvenal was not exactly a Stoic. He was often bitter and mean and jealous. He would tease the Stoics too, joking once that the only difference between a Stoic like Marcus Aureliusand a Cynic like Diogenes (who was famously and deliberately impoverished) was that one wore a shirt and the other didn’t. In any case, Juvenal did seem to understand philosophy and its true role. That it wasn’t an academic exercise but an essential form of clarity in life.
“Philosophy,” he wrote, “by degrees, peels off most of our follies and vices, first shows us what’s right.”
Remember, whatever school you follow, whatever exercises you practice, that this is what philosophy is about. To strip you of vices and help you do the right thing. As Marcus Aurelius reminded himself: “Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter. Cold or warm. Tired or well-rested. Despised or honored.”
That’s it. Doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. And you don’t need a degree for it either.
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