Search Results for: laertius

Diogenes Laertius on the Philosophers

On hearing some one say that the greatest good was to get all you want, [Menedemus] rejoined, “To want the right things is a far greater good.”—Diogenes Laertius Few would suspect what literary treasures lie behind the crumbling 1970s edifice … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy

Myson the Misanthrope, And Other Sages

Diogenes Laertius recounts that one day Myson of Chenae (fl. 6th c. B.C.), one of the early Greek philosophers, “was seen laughing to himself in a lonely spot; and when someone suddenly appeared and asked him why he laughed when … Continue reading

Posted in History, Philosophy

Studying Nature with Thales

While admiring the autumnal beauty of a cool clear day I was struck by a sudden perspective: a group of birch trees framed by their larger neighbors. The contrast of pale golden leaves and the smooth light bark was an … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Religion

Epicurus Examined

Why study Epicurus? After all, he was condemned by many philosophers, including Cicero, as a mere libertine. And such has been his legacy in subsequent eras, even though his real outlook was a bit more nuanced. There is always something … Continue reading

Posted in History, Philosophy

Charity as a Private Virtue

The minor philosopher Arcesilaus (316-240 B.C.) was not always the most edifying thinker. He suffered from the indiscriminate hedonism that afflicted many of his contemporaries. Yet his life is not without interest. In particular I think of his magnanimity. At … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Politics

Plato’s Successors

Most students of ancient philosophy are a bit spoiled by their study of such lofty thinkers as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. But even the great Academy at Athens, the school founded by Plato, produced some uneven results. Upon Plato’s death, … Continue reading

Posted in History, Philosophy

The Consolations of Biography

Many years ago I read Boethius’ famous treatise The Consolation of Philosophy. But straight philosophy can be demanding. If I want something intellectually substantial, yet still easy to peruse at the end of the day, I turn to biography. As Plutarch … Continue reading

Posted in History, Philosophy

Early Cynics and Stoics

If I have found much to admire in the late Stoic writings of Epictetus or Seneca, I have been less impressed with their intellectual forefathers. It may seem strange that a philosophical sect considered synonymous with sobriety and virtue began with … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Stoicism

Plutarch, Diogenes and the Moral Imagination

[W]e are all prompted by the same motives, all deceived by the same fallacies, all animated by hope, obstructed by danger, entangled by desire, and seduced by pleasure. —Johnson, Rambler (No. 60) In his varied writings, Plutarch (c. 45 – … Continue reading

Posted in History, Literature, Philosophy, Plutarch