We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

In my book, Everything Has Two Handles: The Stoic’s Guide to the Art of Living, I argue that the values of the ancient Stoics can help us achieve personal happiness. I believe that these same values can help our children grow into strong, responsible, and resilient citizens. And what are Stoic values? It’s not just a matter of keeping a stiff upper lip, nor does Stoicism hold that you should tamp down all your feelings. Rather, Stoics believed that the good life is one characterized by virtuous beliefs and actions—in brief, a life based on duty, discipline, and moderation. The Stoics also believed in the importance of taking life on its own terms–what they would have described as “living in harmony with nature.” Stoics did not whine when they were passed over for an award, nor did they throw a hissy fit when they didn’t get their way. As the Stoic philosopher, Seneca (106-43 BCE) put it, “All ferocity is born of weakness.” Perhaps most important, Stoics understood the tremendous value of gratitude — not only for the gifts we have received, but also for the grief we have been spared. Maybe if more children were inculcated with these teachings, we would find our celebrities showing more gratitude and less “attitude.”

Ronald Pies.

In another article, the author of this item argues that narcissism may explain the recent spate of mass shootings in the US; he seems to acknowledge, which is to his credit, that overall violent crime in the US has actually fallen in recent years, however.


25 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Patrick Crozier

    And I’d only just become an Epicurian. Drat.

    Oh, and what’s this BCE nonsense?

  • Mr Ecks

    Seneca wrote a pamphlet justifying Nero’s murder of his mother. Hardly a good role model whatever the value of Stoic values.

  • Mr Ecks

    That is Nero’s matricide not Nero having murdered Seneca’s mother.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Whilst any philosophy that concerns itself more with individual behavior and responsibility is going to warm the hearts and minds of libertarians, it is a sad fact we live in a world where governments are infected by control-freak leftists obsessed with other peoples behavior rather than their own, who are intent on importing more of the same from foreign lands with the added bonus of being actively violent in their obsession.

    I suppose a stoic attitude at least helps you cope with it all.

  • Cristina

    When asked why philosophers from other sects became Epicureans and not vice versa, Arcesilaus said: “For the same reason a man can become an eunuch but not the other way around.” 🙂

  • PersonFromPorlock

    “All ferocity is born of weakness.”

    There’s a fatuity that’s right up there with “All bullies are cowards.”

    I’m beginning to wonder if Seneca didn’t deserve Nero’s wicked pun, “Se neca.”

  • Laird

    Mr Ecks, I am not aware that anyone in the history of the world has ever held up Nero as a role model.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Oh, and what’s this BCE nonsense?

    Thanks for calling my attention to it.
    Not to be rude (which would imply weakness according to Dr Pies) but who would want to read a book on stoicism written by somebody who thinks that Seneca and Nero lived BCE?

  • Laird

    Not to be rude, but by convention we have adopted an arbitrary date as the “zero point” in our date line, so by definition anything occurring later is “after” that date and anything earlier is “before” it. Whether you refer to a date prior to that zero point as “BC” or “BCE” is pretty immaterial, as in either case you’re describing it in relation to the (supposed) date of Christ’s birth.

    Of course, if you want to use the Hebrew anno mundi calendar, in which all dates are “positive” (in the sense that none is “before” the stipulated date of creation), feel free to do so. (I believe today’s date in that system is the 5th of Tevet, 5776.) But please specify which date convention you’re using.

  • Snorri Godhi writes:

    Not to be rude (which would imply weakness according to Dr Pies) but who would want to read a book on stoicism written by somebody who thinks that Seneca and Nero lived BCE?

    Both Seneca the Elder (54BC – c. 39AD) and Seneca the Younger (c. 4BC – AD65) were Roman adherents to Stoicism. From the dates, I would say they both lived BC – at least for a bit of their lives.

    Though neither Seneca lived 106BC-43BC, that other Roman adherent to Stoicism (Cicero) did live for exactly those year. I suspect, of Ronald Pies, a bit of careless cut and paste (computer text or visual) from some history reference.

    Who is it claiming Nero lived any time BC?

    Best regards

  • Cristina

    Dr. Pies is wrong in History and Philosophy. His idea is correct, though.
    Not to be rude with you, Laird, but the difference between AD and CE is substantial. That’s the philosophical problem of Dr. Pies.

  • Laird

    And what is that difference, Cristina?

  • Plamus

    “In another article, the author of this item argues that narcissism may explain the recent spate of mass shootings in the US…” – Sure, and, with a hat-tip to H. L. Mencken, for every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. Especially when your problem is imaginary.


  • Julie near Chicago

    Thus PfP:

    ‘…a fatuity that’s right up there with “All bullies are cowards.”’

    Well! What an iconoclastic thing to say! Lucky for you I agree 100%, PfP, and am grateful to see somebody finally with the brains and intestinal fortitude to say so!

  • Cristina

    Laird, I suppose you are kidding with your question. You are an intelligent man. Or so I’ve believed until now.

  • Cristina, I too must be stupid, because I too don’t know the difference between “CE” and “AD” — simply because all the “old” history books used to say, for example, that Constantinople fell in 1453 AD, while the “modern” history books state that the city fell in 1453 CE.

    Frankly, I use BC and AD and not the modern BCE/CE nonsense simply because it annoys people whom I want to annoy.

  • Laird

    Cristina, intelligence doesn’t preclude ignorance, as you must know.

    As far as I know, AD and CE refer to exactly the same thing. The only difference of which I am aware is that “AD” means “Anno Domini” (“in the year of our Lord”), whereas “CE” means either “Common Era” or “Christian Era”, depending upon whom you ask. To me the difference is immaterial, as both use the same date as the starting point. If I am wrong about this, please enlighten me.

    FWIW, I rather like Kim’s last sentence.

  • Roue le Jour

    There’s only one group of people who are offended by the mere existence of other cultures, and that needs to be cured, with the liberal and vigorous application of blunt instruments, not reinforced.

    Here in Thailand it’s the year 2558. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to get offended by that. There must be a knack to it.

  • Cristina

    I’m sure both, Laird and you, Kim, are sharp enough to understand that using CE instead of AD is a nod to modernity. In other words, a statement against Christianity.
    That’s a substantial difference in the philosophical approach to any subject.

  • Laird

    Cristina, you can choose to view CE versus AD as a “statement against Christianity”; that’s your prerogative. But it says more about you than about the term itself. If what you say is true, then the older form was implicitly a statement for Christianity. In a multi-religious society such as ours, switching to a more neutral word seems entirely appropriate. It certainly doesn’t offend me.

    I’m an old curmudgeon, set in my ways, so I still prefer to use AD/BC (partly for the reason Kim noted.) But I have better things to get upset about than a simple change in nomenclature.

  • Cristina

    Laird, it’s not a statement for Christianity. It is a Christian formula. People interested in a ” more neutral” term are uncomfortable with Christianity and our civilization. I’m not offended by the new form. I find it completely ridiculous, another idiocy of political correctness.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Speaking for myself, i also happen to prefer AD/BC, for 3 reasons:
    * what Kim said
    * our dating system is based on the birth date of Christ, so why pretend otherwise?
    * BCE has an extra letter, and therefore it falls foul of Occam’s razor.

    In reply to Nigel Sedgwick:
    * I had forgotten about Seneca the Elder.
    * According to, er… wikipedia, Seneca the Younger was born 4 BC (not 48 BC) and presumably did not contribute anything substantial in his first 4 years.
    * I mentioned Nero because i assume that anybody familiar with the Younger, knows that he was forced by Nero to commit suicide; and also, that Nero was a Roman emperor, and that the only BC emperor was Augustus.

  • Cristina

    Snorri Godhi 🙂

  • @Snorri Godhi: just who is it you think wrote above that Seneca the Younger was born in 48 BC?

    and presumably did not contribute anything substantial in his first 4 years.

    Do people have to do something substantial to be judged to have lived? I think that very likely rules out all of us: but distinctly unfairly on the “living” bit.

    Snorri Godhi seems to want to rewrite the dictionary. And this on top of challenging things written – when those things were not actually written at all.

    Best regards