On the Shortness of Life

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Lucius Annaeus Seneca, known as Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC – AD 65), is the author of ‘On the Shortness of Life (c. 49 AD).’ In it, Seneca draws insight from different streams of ancient wisdom: Stoic, Epicurean, Platonic, Skeptic and Cynic, as he addresses some of the important questions humans face. Seneca encourages people to be mindful of time and to use it purposefully. He suggests awareness and acceptance as a remedy for many worries and wasteful dissipations. We need to be aware of how we spend our time, and ideally, plan to spend it wisely. Acceptance of death is necessary for peace of mind, and will, in turn, make us appreciate our limited time all the more. Chapters 2 to 9 survey the many ways in which life is squandered and time frittered away by people who are preoccupied by pointless pursuits. Chapters 10 to 17 contrast the philosophical approach to leisure (with the deluded common approach. This culminates in chapters 18 to 20 that show the emancipation of the wise, who can soar above the lives of those mired in preoccupation.
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