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Meditations

 
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 06:26 am
Meditations
Marcus Aurelius
ISBN: 0-19-283907-1
Publisher: Oxford University Press

OVERVIEW: Marcus Aurelius was Roman Emperor in the 2nd century AD. As he traveled about (doing those things Emperor's do), he penned out a long series of notes that's really become one of the most important milestones to the Stoic philosophies. This book is written much like any of us would write in our diary; short blurbs here and 8 paragraphs here. He jumps around, sharing one of the most intimate and 'practical' philosophies a human can write. I won't go into Stoicism per say, but I will say that I was deeply inspired by much of what was said. The considered reader will best digest these writings by taking it for what it is - a collection of thoughts from a wise man who was, as we all are, a product of his time. I will say this, if I could live according to these principles, I'd be so much the more content with my human existence. You'll find overtones of existentialism, some nihilism and even overtones of Taoism. A must for any amateur philosopher, regardless of philosophical view.

PRO'S:

  • Translation - relatively easy to read
  • Timeless; whether you subscribe or oppose the philosophical premise, you'll find much applicable to human existence, regardless of timeframe
  • Inspiring to those who want to live and think without regard to 'fighting' events and irritations in life
  • Very nice perspective. Not overly arrogant or penitent, my view of the arrogant emperor was shattered by this man's thoughts

CON'S:

  • In everyone's diary there are entries that, if ready 2 thousand years from now, would have no relevance or meaning. There's a good bit of these [1]
  • There is a lot of good, timeless sentiment here, but you'll also find deeply polythestic overtones and broad "...law of nature" and "... law of virtue" references. These struck me as almost contradictory to the bulk of ideals expressed; such 'seeming contradictions' are sprinkled throughout and can throw the reader off

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Tolerance and even-headedness (pp 4)
  • Maximus' inspiration - a positive outlook (pp 5)
  • Strength, enthusiasm and mastery of your surroundings (pp 23)
  • Acceptance of Mortality (pp 32)
  • Perspective of your place in history (pp 59)
  • Human preoccupation with death -vs- passive acceptance (pp 81)
  • Decisionmaking (pp 94)
  • "Brief life is the common portion of all..." (pp 99)
  • Evil actions of others - Evil motives of same and our response (pp 114)
  • Your impact in the long run (pp 115)

NOTABLE QUOTE:

From "Meditations", Book IX, paragraph 3
[INDENT]"Disdain not death, but be well satisfied with it, because this, too, is one of the things which Nature wills. For as are adolescence and old age, growth and maturity, development of childbearing and the rest of the natural functions which life's seasons bring, such also is actual dissolution. This, therefore, is like a man of trained reason, not to be rash or violent or disdainful in the face of death, but to wait for it as one of the natural functions; and, as you now wait for the unborn child to come forth from your wife's womb, so expect the hour in which your soul will drop from this shell."
[/INDENT] RATING: 9.4


-----------
[1] Although I list this as a 'con', it could well be listed as a 'pro' since that gives us a hint of insight into how someone is thinking.

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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,779 • Replies: 12
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Arjen
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 12:29 pm
@Khethil,
I read the work as well. I enjoyed the look into Marcus Aurelius Antonius' mind quite a bit. I did not, however, think it a very good work. It lacks a real elaboration of ideas. Although I quite liked his thoughts on many matters a philosophical work is not about the statements themselves, but about the way sombody came to conclude them.

p.s. In the last line of your quote you made an error in spelling. It seems a shame to leave it there.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 03:45 pm
@Arjen,
Arjen wrote:
I read the work as well. I enjoyed the look into Marcus Aurelius Antonius' mind quite a bit. I did not, however, think it a very good work. It lacks a real elaboration of ideas.


Yes, exactly. I'd love to have seen reasoning and the basis behind much of what is said. And again; you're quite right: It wasn't written with a whole lot of careful attention. But it so inspired me, on a simple human basis, that I almost felt it unethical to write anything akin to an 'objective' review (but I tried!). In our most private musings of thoughts, alone with our journal (keyboard?) we rarely, as "just people" delineate these things as they should be - rarely flesh them out for future generations. In all this, the work struck me as spontaneous and honest to the heart. But that's just my perception.

Arjen wrote:
p.s. In the last line of your quote you made an error in spelling. It seems a shame to leave it there.


Yea, fixed it, thanks Smile
Deftil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 03:51 pm
@Khethil,
Good review, I'll try to read it sometime. Stoicism interests me.
0 Replies
 
Arjen
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 03:54 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
Yes, exactly. I'd love to have seen reasoning and the basis behind much of what is said. And again; you're quite right: It wasn't written with a whole lot of careful attention. But it so inspired me, on a simple human basis, that I almost felt it unethical to write anything akin to an 'objective' review (but I tried!). In our most private musings of thoughts, alone with our journal (keyboard?) we rarely, as "just people" delineate these things as they should be - rarely flesh them out for future generations. In all this, the work struck me as spontaneous and honest to the heart. But that's just my perception.

I think it indeed was very honest and of all the Roman emperors Marcus is the one I think most fondly of. In that sense I think I could not have written a review that would have criticized him either.

Smile
0 Replies
 
William
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 03:56 pm
@Khethil,
Arjen and Khethil,
I had a different feeling. Considering who this man was, to have these deeply humane insights that are normally dismissed by the ego of those of such power was to me an extreme rarity. If all had such musings, I think the world would be a different place. Just a thought.

William
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 04:02 pm
@William,
William wrote:
Arjen and Khethil,
I had a different feeling. Considering who this man was, to have these deeply humane insights that are normally dismissed by the ego of those of such power was to me an extreme rarity. I all had such musings, I think the world would be a different place. Just a thought.


Yes yes! Excellent pickup....

... that too was one of the charms for me. My perception of an ancient roman emperor/conqueror was rash, base and abject. To read someone's journal, filled with that much sensitivity was surprising.
Holiday20310401
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 04:11 pm
@Khethil,
Is this book free online?My library is an hour drive. My book store is five minutes away, along with two others fifteen minutes away.
CarolA
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 04:39 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday20310401 wrote:
Is this book free online?My library is an hour drive. My book store is five minutes away, along with two others fifteen minutes away.

I doubt whether any recent translation would be online for free, but there are numerous versions in slightly older translations (a Google search will give lots of hits).
I think most modern politicians and leaders should be made to read this book before they take office, however it is a pity that Marcus didn't pass on his learning to his son and sucessor, Commodus, who turned out to be a bloodthirsty tyrant who came to a sticky end. Maybe we're not all cut out to be philosophers!
Deftil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 05:03 pm
@CarolA,
EpistemeLinks: Electronic Texts for philosopher Marcus Aurelius

You can even get it as an audio book for free
LibriVox The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
0 Replies
 
William
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Sep, 2008 06:01 pm
@CarolA,
CarolA wrote:
I doubt whether any recent translation would be online for free, but there are numerous versions in slightly older translations (a Google search will give lots of hits).
I think most modern politicians and leaders should be made to read this book before they take office, however it is a pity that Marcus didn't pass on his learning to his son and sucessor, Commodus, who turned out to be a bloodthirsty tyrant who came to a sticky end. Maybe we're not all cut out to be philosophers!


That is peculiar isn't it. Perhap's they were not cut of the same cloth. My Uncle told me once "Momma's baby; Daddy's...............maybe? Ha. That would make sense.

William
Jay phil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2009 09:55 pm
@William,
Nice review and discussion, thanks.
Also, I found this overview of Marcus Aurelius on Youtube,
thought you might find it interesting, I think it's well done.

It's in five parts.

YouTube - The Virtual University: Marcus Aurelius Part 1

YouTube - The Virtual University: Marcus Aurelius Part 2

YouTube - The Virtual University: Marcus Aurelius Part 3

YouTube - The Virtual University: Marcus Aurelius Part 4

YouTube - The Virtual University: Marcus Aurelius Part 5
0 Replies
 
hue-man
 
  1  
Reply Sun 19 Apr, 2009 01:13 pm
@Khethil,
I disagreed with his stoic beliefs, such as divine providence, pantheism, and fatalism. However, I thought that meditations was a good look inside of the philosophic school of stoicism and the mind of the philosopher-king.
0 Replies
 
 

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