What are we quibbling about ?
Things have happened, & what has transpired, ensue an outcome that is only a thing, however may it come to pass.
The life that you are having now, is much dependent on the broad conditions of the ecosystems, which we are part of.
Do we quibble over what a friend is to be?, Do we put our trust in opinions, rather than what nature offers?
On Quibbling as Unworthy of the Philosopher
The fact is, the same thing is advantageous to me which is advantageous to youu; for I am not your friend unless whatever is at issue concerning you is my concern also.
Friendship produces between us a partnership in all our interests.
There is no such thing as good or bad fortune for the individual;
we live in common; And no one can live happily who has regard to themselves alone and transforms everything into a question of their own utility.
You must live for your neighbour, if you would live for yourself.
This fellowship, maintained with scrupulous care, which makes us mingle as people with our fellow-folks and holds that the human race have certain rights in common, is also of great help in cherishing the more intimate fellowship which is based on friendship, concerning which I began to speak above.
For one that has much in common with a fellow-folk will have all things in common with a friend.
And on this point, my excellent Lucilius, I should like to have those subtle dialecticians of yours advise me how I ought to help a friend, or how a fellow-folk, rather than tell me in how many ways the word “friend” is used, and how many meanings the word “people” possesses.
Wisdom and Folly are taking opposite sides; Which shall I join?, Which party would you have me follow?
On that side, “people” is the equivalent of “friend”; on the other side, “friend” is not the equivalent of “people”, The one wants a friend for their own advantage; the other wants to make themselves an advantage to their friend.
What you have to offer me is nothing but distortion of words and splitting of syllables.
It is clear that unless I can devise some very tricky premisses and by false deductions tack on to them a fallacy which springs from the truth, I shall not be able to distinguish between what is desirable and what is to be avoided!
“‘Mouse’ is a syllable; Now a mouse eats cheese; therefore, a syllable eats cheese.”
Suppose now that I cannot solve this problem; see what peril hangs over my head as a result of such ignorance!, What a scrape I shall be in!, Without doubt I must beware, or someday I shall be catching syllables in a mousetrap, or if I grow careless, a book may devour my cheese!
Unless perhaps, the following syllogism is shrewder still: “‘Mouse’ is a syllable; Now a syllable does not eat cheese; Therefore a mouse does not eat cheese.”
What childish nonsense!, Do we knit our brows over this sort of problem?, Do we let our beards grow long for this reason?, Is this the matter which we teach with sour and pale faces?
Would you really know what philosophy offers to humanity?,
Death calls away one man, and poverty chafes another; a third is worried either by their neighbour’s wealth or by their own.
So-and-so is afraid of bad luck; another desires to get away from their own good fortune; Some are ill-treated by people, others by the gods.
This friend, in whose company you are jesting, is in fear; Help them, and take the noose from about their neck.
People are stretching out imploring hands to you on all sides; lives ruined and in danger of ruin are begging for some assistance; people’s hopes, people’s resources, depend upon you.
They ask that you deliver them from all their restlessness, that you reveal to them, scattered and wandering as they are, the clear light of truth.
Tell them what nature has made necessary, and what superfluous; tell them how simple are the laws that it has laid down, how pleasant and unimpeded life is for those who follow these laws, yet how bitter and perplexed it is for those who have put their trust in opinion rather than in nature.
I should deem your games of logic to be of some avail in relieving people’s burdens, if you could first show me what part of these burdens they will relieve.
What among these games of yours banishes lust?, Or controls it?, Would that I could say that they were merely of no profit!
They are positively harmful; I can make it perfectly clear to you whenever you wish, that a noble spirit when involved in such subtleties is impaired and weakened.
I am ashamed to say what weapons they supply to people who are destined to go to war with fortune, and how poorly they equip them!, Is this the path to the greatest good?, Is philosophy to proceed by such claptrap and by quibbles which would be a disgrace and a reproach even for expounders of the law?
For what else is it that you people are doing, when you deliberately ensnare the person to whom you are putting questions, than making it appear that the person has lost their case on a technical error?
Just as the judge can reinstate those who have lost a suit in this way, so philosophy has reinstated these victims of quibbling to their former condition.
Why do you people abandon your mighty promises, and, after having assured me in high-sounding language that you will permit the glitter of gold to dazzle my eyesight no more than the gleam of the sword, and that I shall, with mighty steadfastness, spurn both that which all people crave and that which all people fear.
Why do you descend to the ABC’s of scholastic pedants?, What is your answer?
For that is exactly what philosophy promises, that I shall be made equal to the Divine.
For this I have been summoned, for this purpose have I come; Philosophy, keep your promise!
Therefore my dear Lucilius, withdraw yourself as far as possible from these exceptions and objections of so-called philosophers.
Even if there were years left, you would have had to spend them frugally in order to have enough for the necessary things; however as it is, when your time is so scant, what madness it is to learn superfluous things!
Farewell, Seneca, StoicTaoist.