Lives of the Stoics – The Art of Living from Zeno to Marcus Aurelius, by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman, Profile Books, 2020, 326 pages, €19.95
Panaetius argues that if we are to live an ethical life and chose appropriate actions, we must find a way to balance:
1) the roles and duties common to us all as human beings;
2) the roles and duties unique to our individual daimon, or personal genius/calling;
3) the roles and duties assigned to us by the chance of our social station (family and profession);
4) the roles and duties that arise from decisions and commitments we have made.
Lives of the Stoics, p. 81
It has been a trying and challenging year. Although there is light at the end of this dark COVID-19 tunnel in which we find ourselves, this light – promised by miracle vaccines discovered in record time – sadly, may not come soon enough for many. The winter holiday season is supposed to make us jolly and joyful. But let’s be honest. For some, even under normal circumstances, it is not the best of times.
Marcus Aurelius wrote in Meditations, “[t]here is no role so well suited to philosophy as the one you happen to be in right now.” Words that were as relevant for his days as they are for ours. Some of us, our friends, our family members, may be or believe themselves to be in a difficult, dispirited, disconnected place with no relief on the horizon. Some of us may be blessed with unusual success, feeling euphoric. Some of us may simply be doing okay, grateful to have survived 2020 and happy to be where we are – physically, mentally, and professionally. Continue reading “Book Review: Lives of the Stoics – The Art of Living from Zeno to Marcus Aurelius”