A Cure for the Self

“The person who has practiced philosophy as a cure for the self becomes great of soul, filled with confidence, invincible — and greater as you draw near.”


Over time, we all develop tendencies and habits. Some of them are good, but some of them are bad for us and end up being destructive. That’s the theme of today’s entry in The Daily Stoic.

There are multiple excellent ways to address these “negative characteristics”, but author Ryan Holiday argues that philosophy is the longest-standing and really the best of all methods. Why? It’s because philosophy doesn’t just cure you, it actually makes you stronger than before, and helps you blossom as a human.

In the quote above, Seneca points out that philosophy will make you “great of soul”, which is a tremendous phrase and something that I would really like to aspire to. I hope that someone someday says that about me: that I’m great of soul. We shall see!

I also love the phrase “greater as you draw near” — is there any more powerful way to put it than that? What a profoundly rich statement. Someone who has practiced philosophy as a cure for the self becomes greater the nearer you get to them. Wow!

I like these ideas a lot (probably obvious by now). And that’s why I practice philosophy, and stoicism in particular. I want to become great of soul, and hopefully I’ll reach that someday. As Holiday put it, I’d like to be “like the proverbial onion, packed with layers of greatness.”

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