Seneca on Freedom

According to Seneca, the ancient Roman statesman and Stoic,

“In the case of man , there is no good in him until his reason is matured.  And what is this good?  I will tell you:  It is a free and upstanding mind which subjects other things to itself and itself to nothing… A mind flawless and pure, which emulates god and raises itself above ordinary humanity, allowing nothing outside to impinge upon itself.”

What is freedom?  Is it the ability to do whatever you please?  No, being able to do what you want is the mark of a citizen, as opposed to a subject or a slave.  Freedom is the power to only want what is good.  Most citizens are not free in this respect, and our consumerist American culture has tricked us into hailing a false sense of freedom.  True, I am free to sleep around, eat McDonalds, and drunkenly shoot off fireworks on the 4th of July.  But I am a slave insofar as I want those things.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s