The Essential Good

Seneca Moral Epistles 45. 10-11

“Why do you waste my time in this thing you yourself call the “liar” [fallacy] about which so many books have been composed? Consider that my entire life is a lie. Provide proof for this and then, if you are sharp, argue it is true. It demands that things which are for the most part meaningless be essential. For what is not meaningless has nothing immediate in itself that it might be able to make someone lucky and blessed.

For, something is not necessarily good if it is somehow essential. Otherwise, we lose out on what is good, if we give this name to bread and porridge and the other things we cannot live without. What is good is always essential; but what is essential is not always good since there are surely very base things which are somehow necessary. No one is so ignorant of the worth of the word good as to water it down as one of the daily needs.”

Quid me detines in eo, quem tu ipse pseudomenon appellas, de quo tantum librorum conpositum est? Ecce tota mihi vita mentitur; hanc coargue, hanc ad verum, si acutus es, redige. Necessaria iudicat, quorum magna pars supervacua est. Etiam quae non est supervacua, nihil in se momenti habet in hoc, ut possit fortunatum beatumque praestare. Non enim statim bonum est, si quid necessarium est; aut proicimus bonum, si hoc nomen pani et polentae damus et ceteris, sine quibus vita non ducitur. Quod bonum est, utique necessarium est; quod necessarium est, non utique bonum est, quoniam quidem necessaria sunt quaedam eadem vilissima. Nemo usque eo dignitatem boni ignorat, ut illud ad haec in diem utilia demittat.

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Plato, Seneca and Aristotle

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