Notes on philosophy


  • Life is short. That’s all there is to say. Get what you can from the present – thoughtfully, justly. (Meditations 4:26)
  • Things either happen because they have been pre-determined by providence (the Stoic view), or they are a completely random coincidence of atoms (the Epicurean view). (From the Robin Waterfield translation of Meditations)
  • “The Japanese are traditionally in the mindset that there are many, many little things that make your life worthwhile — not necessarily all these grand goals,” says Ken Mogi (on Ikigai).
  • “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” Ayn Rand (on Objectivism)
  • The tranquility that comes when you stop caring what they say. Or think, or do. Only what you do. (Meditations 4:18)
  • Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world. (Arthur Shopenhauer)
  • Be joyful within and in need of no external assistance or peace provided by others. (Meditations 3:5)
  • Meaning is about expressing rather than satisfying the self. (Steven Pinker)
  • When we aim at happiness, we’re unlikely to achieve it; whereas when we aim at excellence, we have a better chance of being happy. (Observation by Aristotle)
  • “Everything is as you take it to be.” (Meditations 2:15)
  • “We try to please Mom and Dad, we try to please the teachers at school, we try to please the church, and so we start acting. We pretend to be what we are not because we are afraid of being rejected. The fear of being rejected becomes the fear of not being good enough. Eventually we become someone that we are not.” (Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements)
  • “You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.” Kahlil Gibran
  • “The time has passed for you to respect yourself. For no one lives long, and this life of yours is all but spent while you dishonor yourself and make your happiness depend on the souls of others.” (Meditations 2:6)
  • “You should, I need hardly say, live in such a way that there is nothing which you could not as easily tell your enemy as keep to yourself.” (Seneca/Letters From A Stoic)
  • “Choose not to be harmed – and you won’t feel harmed.” (Meditations 4:7)
  • This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our worst instincts; is anything more stupid than choosing to carry a burden that really one wants to cast on the ground? (Candide)
  • For in fact it is silly and pointless to try to get from another person what one can get for oneself. (Epictetus, Discourses)
  • The study of the nature of knowledge and reality.
  • A philosopher is a lover of wisdom.
  • Philosophy is the study or creation of theories about basic things such as the nature of existence, knowledge, and thought, or about how people should live.
  • Philosophy is a way of thinking about certain subjects such as ethics, thought, existence, time, meaning and value. That ‘way of thinking’ involves 4 Rs: responsiveness, reflection, reason and re-evaluation. The aim is to deepen understanding.
  • Philosophy helps us solve our problems -mundane or abstract, and it helps us make better decisions by developing our critical thinking (very important in the age of disinformation).

Suggested Reading List:

  1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius / The Annotated Edition translated by Robin Waterfield
  2. The Nature of Things by Lucretius (translated by A.E. Stallings)
  3. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (translated by Gregory Hays)
  4. Letters from a Stoic by Seneca
  5. Seven Ways of Looking at Pointless Suffering by Scott Samuelson
  6. On the Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche
  7. A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine
  8. Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee by Shannon Lee
  9. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  10. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

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