21 September 2010

Seneca Essays


The first essay I chose was “On The Futility Of Planning Ahead”. The entire essay seemed to be based around the technique of dichotomy (or trichotomy) of control. He basically is saying throughout the entire essay that we’re planning for eternity, but death is always over our shoulders. Many people pray and beg for a longer life and will do anything to prolong it and have less suffering, but death is one of those things that is completely out of our control, so why waste time worrying about it. I feel this is represented quite clearly in the following section, “But how foolish it is to set out one’s life, when one is not even the owner of the morrow! (uncertainty)”. He says that worrying about the outcome of our future just “eats away the mind” because essentially it is out of our control and just causes unnecessary fear.


The second essay I chose was “On Discursiveness In Reading”. He says, “Do you ask what is the proper limit to wealth? It is, first, to have what is necessary, and, second, to have what is enough”. He’s telling us that happiness and contentment lies within what we have in life and we need to stop striving for things that we do not have. He also refers to the technique of fatalism. He says, “’Contented poverty is an honourable estate.’ Indeed, if it be contented, it is not poverty at all. It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor”. If one’s fate is to be poor and live in poverty, then they need to live contently in the poverty because that’s how they were meant to be. This same idea was used in describing reading. Reading many books or authors at one time is not appreciating what you have and is nothing but a distraction. You will never fully appreciate a book or author until you focus solely on that one without thinking what else is out there to read.

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