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The Author in Iceland
The Author in Ireland
The Author in Ireland

Which Is the True Stoic?

It is tempting to think of Stoics as living lives that are austere, that are cold and full of self-denial.  It turns out that there is a Stoic spectrum, with some, like Musonius Rufus, inhabiting the ascetic end, with others, like Seneca, being open to the delights that life has to offer, as long as they were careful not to crave those delights or cling to them on experiencing them.  Along these lines, Marcus Aurelius praises his grandfather for "the way he handled the material comforts that fortune had supplied him in such abundance—without arrogance and without apology.  If they were there, he took advantage of them.  If not, he didn't miss them." 

As I explain in The Stoic Challenge, a Stoic will sometimes go out of her way to do things that are difficult and uncomfortable as part of the Stoic training that prepares her for life's setbacks.  This same Stoic, however, would be wise to follow in the footsteps of Seneca and Marcus, and embrace the sources of delight that life has to offer.

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