Letter 5: On the Philosopher's Mean

Moral Letters to Lucilius


Summary: When improving yourself through philosophy don’t show off by wearing ratty clothing and living an extremely minimalist life. This will scare away the very people we hope to help. It is better to moderately live in a similar way to those around you but to be a very different person inside. Maintain a higher standard of life not a contrary standard to those around you. Live well but don’t seek extravagance, it is the same to treat a

earthenware plate like a silver plate as to treat a silver plate as an earthenware plate. It is impossible to live according to nature by intentionally torturing the body. Philosophy calls for plain living but not for penance. Guests should admire you more than your possessions.

Fear and hope are ideas that are chained together. They both come together as a package. Both belong to a mind that is stuck looking far into the future. Beasts avoid the dangers they see and forget about those they’ve escaped, humans tend to worry about those they’ve escaped, the ones they see and ones they may or may not see… Endeavor to live. Train the mind to live in the present. The present alone can make no man wretched.

Thoughts: This as a good lesson. Don’t beat yourself up for having a few nice things but on the same note don’t keep seeking out the newest this and newest that… Work on being interesting not on having more interesting objects. Also work to let go of the past and to plan for but not worry about the future. Live now. Carpe Diem.

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