Best Thing About Philosophy? The Price

Seneca, Moral Epistles 90.1-2

“My Lucilius, who can question that the live we live is a gift from the immortal gods, but the fact that we live well comes from philosophy? So, by this logic, as much as a good life is a greater benefit than merely living, so much more so would we owe to philosophy than we would owe to the gods, if philosophy itself were not something the gods gave us.

They granted this knowledge to no one, but they gave the ability to develop it to all. For, if they had made philosophy a gift shared by all and we were born wise, then wisdom would have missed what is best in itself, not being a chance acquisition. For now wisdom’s most valuable and impressive trait is that it does not come to us, because each person is in debt to themselves for wisdom and it is not found at someone else’s cost”

Quis dubitare, mi Lucili, potest, quin deorum immortalium munus sit quod vivimus, philosophiae quod bene vivimus? Itaque tanto plus huic nos debere quam dis, quanto maius beneficium est bona vita quam vita, pro certo haberetur, nisi ipsam philosophiam di tribuissent. Cuius scientiam nulli dederunt, facultatem omnibus. Nam si hanc quoque bonum vulgare fecissent et prudentes nasceremur, sapientia quod in se optimum habet, perdidisset: inter fortuita non esse. Nunc enim hoc in illa pretiosum atque magnificum est, quod non obvenit, quod illam sibi quisque debet, quod non ab alio petitur.

Futurama take my money meme with the word philosophy at the top


Free Lunch Owns You

Seneca, Moral Epistles 42.7-8

“Our stupidity is clear from the fact that we think we are purchasing only those things we spend money on. We consider those things free we pay for with our very selves. These are the kind of things we would refuse to buy  if our home had to be given in exchange, if some profitable or pricy holding were required, yet we are super eager to acquire them through anxiety, danger, giving up all shame and freedom and our free time–so much so that there’s nothing anyone treats more cheaply than themselves.

So, let us behave this way in all our plans and actions: just as we usually act when we approach some conman for a purchase, let us see how much is asked for what we want. Often the highest price is paid for nothing. I can show you many things for which searching and acquiring takes away our very freedom. We would be our own, if we did not have these things.”

Ex eo licet stupor noster appareat, quod ea sola putamus emi, pro quibus pecuniam solvimus, ea gratuita vocamus, pro quibus nos ipsos inpendimus. Quae emere nollemus, si domus nobis nostra pro illis esset danda, si amoenum aliquod fructuosumve praedium, ad ea paratissimi sumus pervenire cum sollicitudine, cum periculo, cum iactura pudoris et libertatis et temporis; adeo nihil est cuique se vilius.

Idem itaque in omnibus consiliis rebusque faciamus, quod solemus facere, quotiens ad institorem alicuius mercis accessimus; videamus, hoc quod concupiscimus, quanti deferatur. Saepe maximum pretium est, pro quo nullum datur. Multa possum tibi ostendere, quae adquisita acceptaque libertatem nobis extorserint; nostri essemus, si ista nostra non essent.

Picture of oil painting. Abstract with three figures in the foreground, others behind, and a waving, orange and purple background
Edvard Munch, “Anxiety,” 1894

Xenophon, Oeconomicus 1.8: Even Huge Tracts of Land Can Be Worse than Worthless


“Land is certainly not an asset if it creates poverty instead of revenue.”


Οὐδὲ ἡ γῆ μέντοι χρήματά ἐστιν, εἴπερ ἀντὶ τοῦ τρέφειν πεινῆν παρασκευάζει.


Where would Xenophon fit in this conversation (he certainly has a lot to say about marriage…)?