Who is the Living Philosopher?
You are and I am; we should all study ideas, select the best, and incorporate them into a useful philosophy for living. Why are we all charged with this responsibility? In the end, we have to think for ourselves, even save ourselves from our own miseries. As for developing our philosophy by borrowing from others, no one has a monopoly on an idea. Seneca wrote, “Whatever is true is mine.” If a notion suits you, it is as much yours as anyone’s. I have found that the ideas central to Ancient Roman Stoicism, as expressed in particular by Seneca in his essays and letters, resound as sensible, practical, doable, and salutary. I had developed a couple of ideas of a philosophical nature in the course of my college education and literary reading, which I still follow. I have also been greatly misled and made less tranquil than I might have been by many popular notions, such as those about the role and value of emotions and what constitutes success. With Seneca as a source and John Keats as inspiration, I work on my own philosophy. Seneca exhorted his pupil: “What do you say? How long will you be a subaltern? Take command and say things which will be handed down to posterity. Produce something of your own. All these men who never create but lurk as interpreters under the shadow of another are lacking, I believe, in independence of spirit.”