The majority of Seneca‘s reasons for which we should spend our time studying philosophy seem to be accurate however, I believe one of them lacks the unquestioned reasoning that the others possess. He is very explicit and convincing in his arguments concerning the permanence of the knowledge gained form philosophy, the liberty of choosing one’s parents by studying philosophers, and the ability of knowledge to be shared without being lost. Where I believe he stumbles is in his argument that friendships are overvalued and that people need to act in a more selfish manner.
Seneca conveys the message of life not being short, despite the more popular belief that it is, throughout his text On the Shortness of life: Life Is Long if You Know How To Use It He firmly believes that “life is long enough [.H] if it were all well invested” (Seneca, 1). People are “troubled by a longing for the future and [a] weariness of the present” , thus not allowing them to properly use their time He also goes on to claim that even people who do not look to the future, and possess an abundant amount of leisure time, do not understand how to appropriately use such time.
Therefore Seneca makes a clear statement on how he feels people should spend their time; by studying philosophy.
The first reason he gives for learning about philosophy is that, unlike most of the things that people hold in high regard, the knowledge gained from philosophy is permanent Things such as wealth, position, respect, and power can all be taken away at any moment however; one will never lose the knowledge gained from philosophy.
I completely agree with this reason since it is clear that its logic cannot be countered Knowledge is the one thing that is everlasting and all should prioritize its pursuit. Secondly, he states that people should study philosophy so that they can “choose whose children [they] would like to be“ (25). This essentially means that by studying philosophy, one can choose who they will learn from and in turn, who will shape their beliefs. I once again agree with such a statement, as philosophy is the only thing other than our true parents that can shape who we become as a person, This still holds true in our society today, If someone does not believe in the core values that their parents try to instil in them, they can turn to philosophers for guidance on those matters.
Furthermore, Seneca brings forth the fact that the knowledge gained from philosophy can be divided any number of times yet it will not lose any of its value to that particular individual. By this he means that once the knowledge is gained, it can be taught and given to as many individuals as the one possessing it pleases. In doing so, he will still remain just as knowledgeable, On the contrary, this does not hold true with many things in life such as wealth. The more that wealth is divided, the less valuable it becomes If a man were to split up his fortune into one hundred equal portions, and were to give ninety— nine of them away, he will have lost the majority of his wealth. The same holds true with fame. If an individual is famous, he cannot share that fame with a competitor of his and still remain as prominent in his field. Therefore because of the reasoning above, I believe that this argument for why we should study philosophy is also accurate and valid Unlike the previous reasons, the last one that I will examine is one that I would like to press, as I am not truly convinced by the entirety of the argument Seneca argues that philosophy will never make any demands on your time.
It is there when you need and it will not force you to spend time on it Furthermore he states that philosophy can actually add to your life, By this he means that the knowledge gained will make ones life feel longer. I completely agree with these parts of this particular argument. Where I fail to stay with Seneca is when he is critical of ones friends He argues that they will make demands on our Lime, and that this time is irrecoverable. Although this may sometimes hold true, I feel as though these demands can be worthwhile and can actually work similarly to philosophy in that it can add years to ones life. For example, if someone is nagging me to go spend time with him or her, and l oblige, that will either solidify an existing friendship or it could be the beginning of a new one. This friendship could prove to be very helpfult If I am feeling depressed and could really use the support of someone, I will be able to call upon that friend for his or her help, This will cheer me up much quicker, allowing me to resume using my time in a more productive way as Seneca had already established In concluding.
Seneca brought forward many good arguments, proving that the study of philosophy is the best way to use one’s leisure time, Outside of his argument against friendship, I believe that his line of reasoning was very clear, straight forward, and most importantly, valid. He was able to successfully argue that the knowledge gained from philosophy cannot be lost, that by learning philosophy one could choose who will teach them and who will shape their beliefs, and lastly he was able to show that philosophy is something that can be taught as often as one wants once they have learned it without having to worry about having their own knowledge diminished What truly amazes me is the immortality of his work. Having lived in the roman time period, these ideologies and arguments have been around for over two thousand years This kind of time represents the quality of his work and furthermore speaks to the validity of his statements.