A couple of recent upheavals in my otherwise serene existence have me thinking about the wisdom of the ancient Stoics and the idea of balancing my placid life with a daily dose of worst-case scenario. According to the philosopher Epictetus such a position will ensure than while one may be sick, yet will be happy, in peril yet happy.
One might complain, I suppose, that waiting for the roof to fall in isn’t exactly an optimal philosophical perspective, but I have to hand it to those old Stoics as well as Cynics and Epicureans, that their ideas might have been less than perfect but their concern for living life meaningfully and well was above reproach.
Which is more than can be said for certain later philosophical thinkers; apparently, there were individuals, more than a few, I guess, who, in order to catch the attention of their peers, wrote in a most obscure manner employing a convoluted prose filled with misleading, faulty logic and leading to pseudo-profundities having little to nothing to do with living life.
This information has been quite an eye-opener for me, considering the difficulty I’ve had over the years trying to make sense of certain philosophical readings. Not being a scholar, myself, I’m not absolutely sure whether my difficulties are a result of misdirection or simply a lack of subtlety of understanding; nuances, I think, are often lost on me.
Nevertheless, I’m going to revisit the ancients. I’m pretty confident that what they sought, that is the nature of our human existence, carries the kind of meaning important to me.