During the ancient philosophy period, Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Stoic philosopher in Rome. He was born in Cordoba around 4BC and died when he was 69 years old. He was also a statesman, orator, and dramatist. Seneca was a Roman intellectual leader in the first century (Dudley 1). Seneca’s essays On the Happy Life were written for his brother Gallio in 58 CE (Dudley 1). The claim that the pursuit of happiness is the pursuit of reason is his main point. In other words, he was implying that logic could lead to a prosperous life. He argued that men seek to lead happy lives, but they are not wise enough to recognize what exactly makes life happy. This essay will give a detailed textual analysis of book 8.1-2 of Seneca On the Happy Life. It will identify the assumptions and conclusions of the author and explain the reasoning behind his assumptions and conclusions on the subject.
Assumptions and Conclusions
The main idea of Seneca in the passage is that people must draw their reasoning from nature and that it should always guide, advise and lead them on attaining noble thoughts and having honorable minds. Additionally, he argues that pleasure should not be the source of happiness but should be the companion of reasoning. According to the author, it is crucial to have an internal accord, for happiness to be achieved since it cannot be found by pursuing the pleasures alone. The author explains where pleasures belong to; bad and good men who are amused by their disgraceful doings and noble deeds respectively. In Seneca’s Previous book, he provides a clear distinction between reason and pleasure. According to him, there are pleasures that people see as morally good, and others are considered immoral because it is not all about pleasure but also the right judgment. Some people tend to prefer things that are not pleasant because of their principle reasoning because they think they are morally right for them. Many would oppose this distinction, but if you think of analyzing the behavior of human, it is true.
The conclusion provided by Seneca on the passage is that living a happy life is the same as living by following the nature. According to the author, nature should be the building block for the reason that will lead to a happy life as opposed to pleasures. There is a conflict of understanding of Seneca’s philosophy, but if he had not made his opinions, perhaps things would have been different. The idea of nature and its relations to happy living would not be in existence, and maybe other philosophies such as Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle could have been the reference to a happy life in the field of philosophy. Seneca’s examination of the conclusion is that the external things should not bother any man, but the men should follow the law of nature that exists naturally to guide them on reasoning. However, the author argues that reasoning should always be aimed at seeking the truth that lives in men hearts hence the reason to pull the values from the truth.
The assumptions and conclusion of Seneca are guided by the teachings of the ancient men on the importance of leading the best life instead of the pleasant one and his own opinions on the pursuit of happy life. The author supports the idea of equating a happy life with living according to nature with reasons. According to him, caring for nature, refusing to become slaves to anything that is not part of us, treating the physical pleasures and external things as servants will allow them to be of value in their thoughts. Men should never allow any external things to dominate them. Instead, they should always be fair, respect themselves and allow themselves to be confident. However, their self-assurance should be accompanied with knowledge and by doing so, the men will achieve excellent characters and will have ethical reasoning, ready to deal with bad or good. This reasoning is what draws the author to come up with the assumption of using reason and not pleasure to pursue a happy life and finally to conclude that a happy is the same as living according to nature because reason looks to nature for advice and guidance.
Seneca’s philosophical view on pursuing a happy life lies entirely in nature. His point of view equates a happy life with living according to the law of nature. According to him, both good and bad men find delight in their good and bad things they do. However, his assumption states that pleasure is not the lead to happiness but just a companion of reasoning. He further says that reasoning is drawn from nature and that should be the guide and leader in pursuit of a happy life. His assumption and conclusion are based on how the ancient men taught on the significance of leading the best life and not the most pleasant one. His reasoning is also based on the fact that, people need to have the best reasoning capabilities not interfered or influenced by external factors of attached to body pleasures but it should be based on the truth that is found only in nature, hence having a happy life is the same as living by following the nature.
Dudley, Donald R. “Seneca.” Encyclopedia Britannica 2017: 1-3. Print.