“Philosophy isn’t a parlor trick or made for show. It’s not concerned with words, but with facts. It’s not employed for some pleasure before the day is spent, or to relieve the uneasiness of our leisure. It shapes and builds up the soul, it gives order to life, guides action, shows what should and shouldn’t be done — it sits at the rudder steering our course as we vacillate in uncertainties. Without it, no one can live without fear or free from care. Countless things happen every hour that require advice, and such advice is to be sought out in philosophy.”SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 16.3
Philosophy isn’t something that we should only trot out when we want a cozy moment with a cup of tea. It’s not something to snuggle up with at the end of a long day, to make us feel good.
In fact, it really doesn’t have anything at all to do with “feeling good”. That’s not the point. Philosophy, as today’s quote from Seneca in The Daily Stoic illustrates above, is about so much more than that.
The book’s author Ryan Holiday helps us understand: philosophy and stoicism are not things that can be argued frivolously on both sides, like a casual debate might be. You can’t play devil’s advocate with stoic philosophy; you can’t take alternating positions just for the sake of a good discussion.
And the reason for all this is that philosophy is intended to be a guiding light for all decisions in your life, at every moment. It’s simply too important and too serious to be treated flippantly. As Seneca says, “[philosophy] sits at the rudder steering our course”. It’s the keel that keeps our ship upright. It’s not something that comes into play occasionally — philosophy is part of life, every second of it.
Stoicism isn’t a game, it’s a blueprint for life. It isn’t clever words, it isn’t “deep thoughts” — it’s a detailed action plan and that’s the whole point.