Discussion on existential pain and suffering

The individual bears the moral obligation to be a fighter—an agonist with an untamed spirit, so that he can surmount the existential pain and suffering Fortune brings him. Seneca believes the philosopher is a gladiator, one who breaks through with his force.25 The philosopher/gladiator fights, on the battlefield of virtues, to emancipate himself along with the rest of the human beings in order to recover his and their essential dignity. The second form of acceptable violence is suicide,26 so long as its purpose is to assert the paramount values of human dignity against either the malevolence of fortune or the arbitrariness of human power. The third type of acceptable violence is “political”. A ruler, like a parent, does not hesitate to resort to extreme measures, but only when all the means of correction have been exhausted.27 A ruler may resort to severe measures, including homicide, but only for the good of the State (Non reges quoque occidere solent? Sed quotiens id fieri publica

17. Seneca, Epistulae Morales, ΧΙV. 3-4. 18. Seneca, ibid, XIII. 9. 19. Seneca, De Clementia, I. xi. 2. 20. Seneca differentiates between the two—between Fortune and Fate. Fate, in general, contains the benevolent action of

Providence; therefore, it is not a power which is on the whole hostile to man. 21. Cf. Seneca, Consolatio ad Polybium, II. 2, III. 3, III. 4. 22. Seneca, Epistulae Morales, LVIII. 32. 23. Seneca, ibid, ΧΙΙΙ. 1-3. 24. Even when Fortune is angry or the circumstances are aggravating, she still provides enough for people’s survival, therefore,

all the essential things that are truly needed if man leads a life of temperance. Cf. Seneca, Epistulae Morales, XVIΙΙ. 7: “Lucili, exultabis dipondio satur et intelleges ad securitatem non opus esse fortuna; hoc enim, quod necessitate sat est, dat et irata.”

 

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