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When is life complete? An ambiguity in Seneca's letter no. 12

"Every day, then, should be treated as though it were bringing up the rear, as though it were the consummation and fulfillment of one’s life."

- Seneca, Letters 12.8

" Anyone who has said, “I have done living” rises profitably each morning, having gained one day."

- Seneca, Letters 12.9

In my opinion, there's a huge difference between living as if each day is what makes our life complete and living as if each day is an added bonus to a life that was already complete when we woke up. From the first point of view, our life is both not complete when we begin the day and also assumed to be only completed if we live through the entire new day. Since the core mission of Stoicism is to teach us how to be happy always and at any moment, this point of view does not seem to align with Stoicism at all. The second point of view seems to be much healthier and truly Stoic.

Comments

  1. Compare with this quote:

    "They live ill who are always beginning to live." You are right in asking why; the saying certainly stands in need of a commentary. It is because the life of such persons is always incomplete. But a man cannot stand prepared for the approach of death if he has just begun to live. We must make it our aim already to have lived long enough."

    - Seneca, Letters 23.9-10

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