Books
Seneca

Of a Happy Life

De Vita Beata («On the Happy Life») is a dialogue written by Seneca the Younger around the year 58 AD. It was intended for his older brother Gallio, to whom Seneca also dedicated his dialogue entitled De Ira («On Anger»). It is divided into 28 chapters that present the moral thoughts of Seneca at their most mature. Seneca explains that the pursuit of happiness is the pursuit of reason – reason meant not only using logic, but also understanding the processes of nature. Seneca, in agreement with Stoic doctrine, argues that Nature is Reason (logos) and that people must use their powers of reason to live in harmony with nature and thus achieve happiness. In his words, «rerum naturae adsentior; ab illa non deerrare et ad illius legem exemplumque formari sapientia est," which means «I follow nature; it is common sense not to stray from it but to be molded according to its law and example.» Seneca proposes to follow a logical sequence in this approach, starting with the definition of the objectives that the person wants to obtain. In decision-making he scorns the ways of the masses («the most beaten and frequented paths are the most deceptive») since people are "more willing to trust another than to judge for themselves" and "a mistake that has been passed on from hand to hand finally involves us and works our destruction."
45 printed pages
Original publication
2018

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