In the first post devoted to the practical simplicity of Stoicism, that is to say, in my opinion, one of the main reasons for the presence and relevance of stoicism today, I have shown the necessary implementation of practice of the philosophy required by Stoicism. The second element I would like to present today, which is another aspect of the practical simplicity of Stoicism, is, alongside the insistent call of the Stoics to a coherence between discourse and practice, the attention permanent philosopher’s daily life.
The constant attention of the philosopher in everyday life
In the various Stoic texts one finds a very precious concern for everyday life, which allows, from the first reading, to put into practice the advice that one finds there. Epictetus constantly reminds us of the necessity of putting the Stoic principles into practice, so we understand the constant concern to show how to live as a philosopher day after day. The concrete situations of everyday life are very often taken as an example to show how to live in a philosophical way in all the circumstances of life: whether at home, in his relations with his wife or children, at the circus, at the theater , or during a banquet, the Interviewsd’Epictète address all types of situations that the philosopher apprentice can encounter day after day. The examples are endless, and correspond to the diversity of circumstances in which a philosopher finds himself and must live, whatever happens, as a philosopher. To prepare to live as a philosopher in all possible and imaginable situations, Stoicism proposes, like other philosophical schools of antiquity, a certain number of practical exercises: spiritual exercises , these voluntary and personal practices aimed at certain transformation of the subject and allowing to live well on a daily basis (definition of Pierre Hadot , taken up by Xavier Pavie ), example par excellence of this practical simplicity of stoicism.
I have already spoken several times on this notebook of spiritual exercises, notably from quotations from Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius on meditation, or from a quote from Marcus Aurelius on self-knowledge.. To show the relevance, today, of certain ancient spiritual exercises, I will take the example of a spiritual exercise that I myself practiced recently: the contemplation of nature, which allows to become aware of the beauty and of the perfection of the world, including what seems to us the most trivial or the least pleasant to look at first sight. This spiritual exercise of contemplation of nature allows the Stoic to become aware of the beauty and perfection of nature, which will later allow him to more easily accept everything that happens to him as part of the nature of things or destiny. See the beauty and perfection of nature in the smallest things in life, including the less attractive, it is training to see the things that surround us and the events that happen to us “with the eyes of a wise man”. This look of the wise man on the world is what the exercise of contemplation of nature must lead to Marcus Aurelius.