Themanilatimes, Yen Makabenta, Seneca, Observer, Sohrab Ahmar, Opinion On Page One

Themanilatimes, Yen Makabenta

Seneca, thinker for a time of paranoia: Facing, not fearing, death leads to a better life – The Manila Times

'SOHRAB Ahmar, opinion editor of the New York Post, has a new book just off the press: The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos (Convergent Books, New York, 2021).' #TheManilaTimes

5/18/2021 5:22:00 AM

'SOHRAB Ahmar, opinion editor of the New York Post, has a new book just off the press: The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos (Convergent Books, New York, 2021).' TheManilaTimes

First word SOHRAB Ahmar, opinion editor of the New York Post, has a new book just off the press: The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos (Convergent Books, New York, 2021). The volume is notable for tackling without flinching the zeitgeist (spirit) of the age: the paranoia over Covid-19 […]

SOHRAB Ahmar, opinion editor of the New York Post, has a new book just off the press: The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos (Convergent Books, New York, 2021). The volume is notable for tackling without flinching the zeitgeist (spirit) of the age: the paranoia over Covid-19 and the obsession of people today with safety.

Duterte admin should cooperate with ICC probe if it 'has nothing to hide' - Centerlaw Why the ICC retains jurisdiction over Duterte's war on drugs Big Bad Wolf book sale going online this year

Sohrab published an essay-excerpt from his book in the May 15 issue of the Post titled, “Why facing death, rather than fearing it, will lead to a better life.”Both the book and the essay highlight the thinking of the Roman philosopher and statesman Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c. 4 BC to 65 AD), who served in the Roman Senate during the reigns of both Nero and Caligula.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy writes of Seneca: “Seneca is a major philosophical figure of the Roman imperial period. As a Stoic philosopher writing in Latin, Seneca makes a lasting contribution to Stoicism. He occupies a central place in the literature on Stoicism at the time and shapes the understanding of Stoic thought that later generations were to have. Seneca’s philosophical works played a large role in the revival of Stoic ideas in the Renaissance. Until today, many readers approach Stoic philosophy through Seneca rather than through the more fragmentary evidence that we have for earlier Stoics . . . . Some influential scholars have found, in the wake of Foucault’s reading of Seneca, that Seneca speaks to some distinctively modern concerns.” headtopics.com

Why facing death can lead to a better lifeI reproduce at length here Ahmar’s essay in the Post:“Do you mind if I jump in?”So asked one of my Manhattan neighbors recently as I pressed the elevator button to my floor. Up to two strangers are allowed in the elevator on any trip under our apartment building’s rules, so she was within her rights to ride up with me. But to put her at ease, I replied, “Of course! I’m the least Covid-paranoid resident here.”

  My attempt at affability backfired. Chuckling nervously, she used her elbow to press the button to her floor. I stood well within my corner, but that apparently wasn’t enough distancing. For extra protection, she turned away from me to face her own corner, bowing deeply, almost like a Muslim at prayer. And she stayed like that, half-prostrate, until we reached her floor. When the doors opened, she bolted like an Olympic sprinter at the starting gun.

We were both wearing masks (she double), mind you, and this woman was no older than 30, at minuscule risk from a virus that harms mostly the elderly and the infirm. Yet it was clear that she was passing her days in a permanent state of utter terror.Scenes like this betray a society yearning for total safety, which, at bottom, means conquering death: To seek to eliminate all risk is to seek immortality. The pandemic threw this desire into especially sharp relief but it also finds expression in various ongoing scientific projects to artificially extend the human life span using drugs and genetic enhancements.

But even if we could remove all risk and technologically defer our reckoning with decrepitude and death, would it be wise to do so?No saner guide than SenecaAs the past year’s anguish shows, a life lived in constant fear of death isn’t a good life. Barring a spiritual revival that opens up a transcendent horizon for people in the West, we desperately need a saner ethic for coming to terms with death. There is no better one to be found in all of Western thought than the work of Seneca, the 1st century Roman statesman and philosopher. headtopics.com

Bishop backs ICC probe on PH drug war, urges gov't to participate Mayor Sara: No Duterte-Duterte tandem in Halalan 2022 Philippines, Japan sign agreement for space projects

Seneca spent his whole life thinking and writing about death, teaching Romans to live each day as if it could be the last and, in this way, to make peace with mortality. As he advised a friend, “make your life joyful by putting aside all your anxiety about keeping it.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca was born in 4 BC in Córdoba, Spain. When he was a boy, his father moved his family to Rome to ply his trade as a teacher of rhetoric, training would-be politicos and lawyers. Seneca the Elder knew firsthand the dirty, dangerous world of Roman politics and he warned his sons to keep to “the strictest limits of honor” should they pursue political careers.

Seneca the Younger did just that, even as he also studied philosophy in the Stoic school. Stoicism taught its followers to tame their passions and appetites and to calmly contemplate nature, even and especially amid adversity.Many today associate Stoicism with renouncing earthly goods like wealth and honor, but that isn’t how Seneca thought about it. Indeed, he grabbed political life by the horns, winning a seat in the Senate and later rising to chief imperial adviser. And he became fabulously wealthy in the bargain, though he did continue to practice Stoic austerities:

Our obsession with looking young or even finding ways to live forever reflects an unhealthy fear of death,All his life, Seneca suffered from a pulmonary illness, which seems to have sent him into fits of breathlessness so severe, he felt like he was on the verge of death. headtopics.com

3 lessons on dealing with deathThis constant proximity to death lent his writings on the subject a calm sobriety and objectivity very nearly unrivaled in all literature, ancient and modern. Three lessons on dealing with death stand out:First, those who prepare for death can overcome the indignity of being forcibly expelled from the land of the living. Whereas those who cling to life in a base, desperate manner compound their indignity — and eventually end up getting expelled anyway.

Early in his career, while serving as a senator under Caligula, Seneca witnessed a searing illustration of this principle. Sen. Julius Canus was widely respected for his personal dignity. One day, in a public debate with Caligula, he utterly bested him. When the senator turned to take his leave, the emperor held him back. “Just so you don’t take comfort from an absurd hope,” Caligula said, “I’ve ordered you to be led away for execution.”

'Finally, some sense': Health official says face shields may no longer be worn outdoors Duterte gives ₱9-M reward to soldiers for neutralizing NPA leaders Golf: Yuka Saso now 8th in women's world rankings

To which Julius Canus calmly replied: “Thank you, best of rulers.” Everyone knew that Caligula was a cruel tyrant, very far from the “best of rulers.”But to Seneca, there was more to Julius Canus’ sarcasm than a desire to have the last word. It suggested also that the condemned was “embracing the sentence joyfully, like a grant of freedom.” When the time comes to die, Seneca observed, it is going to happen anyway — so what’s to be gained from struggling?

By contrast, those who desperately fear death often sacrifice their dignity.Second, fear of death is not only pointless, it prevents us from keeping the right perspective on our lives. Seneca certainly didn’t advise that we should live like foolhardy jackasses; if he were around today and knew about the germ theory of disease, he would take reasonable Covid precautions.

We shouldn’t fear death, he rather contended, precisely because death stalks us at every turn. To live fearlessly we need to make peace with the fact that death is ever-present . . .Death gives meaning to lifeThe third lesson is the most profound, namely, that death gives meaning to life. It is a destination without which life’s path meanders to the point of intolerableness. An excess of life, Seneca thought, is a kind of curse, giving rise to the confusion we associate with tales that have no clear beginning, middle and end.

“No journey is without an endpoint,” he argued. And “just as with storytelling, so with life: It’s important how well it is done, not how long.”This is the lesson most out of tune with the spirit of our age, with its quest for medications that might reverse our biological clock, not to mention the profusion of physical exercises, barely edible concoctions, plastic surgery, skin creams and other supposed aids to living longer or masking the physical symptoms of aging.

Those who long for natural immortality, he argued, should beware of what they wish for. Because at some point, earthly life just gets tiresome — and boring.The state of being alive — fully alive — is possible only in relation to an endpoint, death. It is the certainty of an end to life that allows us to appreciate sacrifice, heroism, love, beauty, the kind of virtuous life of a man like Seneca and the self-sacrifice of the frontline health worker at the height of the pandemic.

So, did Seneca embrace his own death with the courage he demanded from his friends and family members? Did he practice what he spent a lifetime preaching?In the year 65, Seneca was (falsely) implicated in a conspiracy to assassinate Nero. Faced with the usual choice — suicide or execution — Seneca, of course, preferred to take his own leave.”

yenobserver@gmail.com.td_uid_75_60a35f81a14ae_rand{margin-top:0px !important;margin-bottom:0px !important;padding-top:0px !important;padding-bottom:0px !important;}  .td_uid_82_60a35f81a3da1_rand{margin-bottom:0px !important;padding-bottom:0px !important;}  @media (min-width: 768px){.td_uid_85_60a35f81a4ea5_rand{margin-left:-0px;margin-right:-0px;}.td_uid_85_60a35f81a4ea5_rand .vc_column_inner{padding-left:0px;padding-right:0px;}}.td_uid_85_60a35f81a4ea5_rand{position:relative !important;top:0;transform:none;-webkit-transform:none;}.td_uid_85_60a35f81a4ea5_rand{padding-right:40px !important;}.td_uid_85_60a35f81a4ea5_rand .td_block_wrap{text-align:left;} .td_uid_86_60a35f81a5025_rand{vertical-align:baseline;} OTHER STORIES Opinion on Page One Hot and spicy Camarines Sur politics Antonio Contreras - May 18, 2021 0 THERE is talk that Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo may run for governor of Camarines Sur instead of gunning for the presidency. And... Read more Opinion on Page One Duterte tells US to leave PH alone Reynaldo O. Arcilla - May 18, 2021 0 PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s oligarch, Amboy and Yellowtard of a Foreign Affairs Secretary, Teodoro “Tweeterboy” Locsin Jr., rebuked Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. for speaking... Read more Opinion on Page One Why the US fooled the ‘Bajo 3’ into losing PH territory Rigoberto D. Tiglao - May 17, 2021 0 BY “Bajo Three” I mean the three very high-ranked Philippine officials who lost Bajo de Masinloc (also known as Scarborough or Panatag Shoal) because... Read more Opinion on Page One Psychological incapacity – a legal concept Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino - May 17, 2021 0 THE Public Information Office of the Supreme Court served notice on the people of the Philippines: the high tribunal has pronounced psychological incapacity found... Read more Opinion on Page One Your vote is not a joke Tita C. Valderama - May 17, 2021 0 WITH the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) unlikely to go away soon, the main battleground for next year’s elections will certainly be on social media.... Read more Opinion on Page One Propping up the rich a failed growth strategy Marlen V. Ronquillo - May 16, 2021 0 The rebound and recovery strategy of the Duterte administration is a cut and paste from the Republican Party playbook, from Reagan to Trump. The... Read more .td_uid_89_60a35f81bbf29_rand{vertical-align:baseline;}.td_uid_89_60a35f81bbf29_rand{width:340px !important;}@media (min-width: 1019px) and (max-width: 1140px){.td_uid_89_60a35f81bbf29_rand{width:280px !important;}}@media (min-width: 768px) and (max-width: 1018px){.td_uid_89_60a35f81bbf29_rand{width:220px !important;}} Weather Click here for more

forecasts and updates Today's Front Page TRY OUR DIGITAL EDITIONFREE FOR 30 DAYSSubscribe Now ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER?LOGIN HERE .td_uid_110_60a35f8484538_rand{min-height:0;} .td_uid_111_60a35f8484691_rand{vertical-align:baseline;} .td_uid_112_60a35f84846fc_rand{min-height:0;} .td_uid_113_60a35f8484810_rand{vertical-align:baseline;}

First wordSOHRAB Ahmar, opinion editor of the New York Post, has a new book just off the press: The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos (Convergent Books, New York, 2021). The volume is notable for tackling without flinching the zeitgeist (spirit) of the age: the paranoia over Covid-19 and the obsession of people today with safety.

Sohrab published an essay-excerpt from his book in the May 15 issue of the Post titled, “Why facing death, rather than fearing it, will lead to a better life.”Both the book and the essay highlight the thinking of the Roman philosopher and statesman Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c. 4 BC to 65 AD), who served in the Roman Senate during the reigns of both Nero and Caligula.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy writes of Seneca: “Seneca is a major philosophical figure of the Roman imperial period. As a Stoic philosopher writing in Latin, Seneca makes a lasting contribution to Stoicism. He occupies a central place in the literature on Stoicism at the time and shapes the understanding of Stoic thought that later generations were to have. Seneca’s philosophical works played a large role in the revival of Stoic ideas in the Renaissance. Until today, many readers approach Stoic philosophy through Seneca rather than through the more fragmentary evidence that we have for earlier Stoics . . . . Some influential scholars have found, in the wake of Foucault’s reading of Seneca, that Seneca speaks to some distinctively modern concerns.”

Why facing death can lead to a better lifeI reproduce at length here Ahmar’s essay in the Post:“Do you mind if I jump in?”So asked one of my Manhattan neighbors recently as I pressed the elevator button to my floor. Up to two strangers are allowed in the elevator on any trip under our apartment building’s rules, so she was within her rights to ride up with me. But to put her at ease, I replied, “Of course! I’m the least Covid-paranoid resident here.”

  My attempt at affability backfired. Chuckling nervously, she used her elbow to press the button to her floor. I stood well within my corner, but that apparently wasn’t enough distancing. For extra protection, she turned away from me to face her own corner, bowing deeply, almost like a Muslim at prayer. And she stayed like that, half-prostrate, until we reached her floor. When the doors opened, she bolted like an Olympic sprinter at the starting gun.

We were both wearing masks (she double), mind you, and this woman was no older than 30, at minuscule risk from a virus that harms mostly the elderly and the infirm. Yet it was clear that she was passing her days in a permanent state of utter terror.Scenes like this betray a society yearning for total safety, which, at bottom, means conquering death: To seek to eliminate all risk is to seek immortality. The pandemic threw this desire into especially sharp relief but it also finds expression in various ongoing scientific projects to artificially extend the human life span using drugs and genetic enhancements.

But even if we could remove all risk and technologically defer our reckoning with decrepitude and death, would it be wise to do so?No saner guide than SenecaAs the past year’s anguish shows, a life lived in constant fear of death isn’t a good life. Barring a spiritual revival that opens up a transcendent horizon for people in the West, we desperately need a saner ethic for coming to terms with death. There is no better one to be found in all of Western thought than the work of Seneca, the 1st century Roman statesman and philosopher.

Seneca spent his whole life thinking and writing about death, teaching Romans to live each day as if it could be the last and, in this way, to make peace with mortality. As he advised a friend, “make your life joyful by putting aside all your anxiety about keeping it.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca was born in 4 BC in Córdoba, Spain. When he was a boy, his father moved his family to Rome to ply his trade as a teacher of rhetoric, training would-be politicos and lawyers. Seneca the Elder knew firsthand the dirty, dangerous world of Roman politics and he warned his sons to keep to “the strictest limits of honor” should they pursue political careers.

Seneca the Younger did just that, even as he also studied philosophy in the Stoic school. Stoicism taught its followers to tame their passions and appetites and to calmly contemplate nature, even and especially amid adversity.Many today associate Stoicism with renouncing earthly goods like wealth and honor, but that isn’t how Seneca thought about it. Indeed, he grabbed political life by the horns, winning a seat in the Senate and later rising to chief imperial adviser. And he became fabulously wealthy in the bargain, though he did continue to practice Stoic austerities:

Our obsession with looking young or even finding ways to live forever reflects an unhealthy fear of death,All his life, Seneca suffered from a pulmonary illness, which seems to have sent him into fits of breathlessness so severe, he felt like he was on the verge of death.

3 lessons on dealing with deathThis constant proximity to death lent his writings on the subject a calm sobriety and objectivity very nearly unrivaled in all literature, ancient and modern. Three lessons on dealing with death stand out:First, those who prepare for death can overcome the indignity of being forcibly expelled from the land of the living. Whereas those who cling to life in a base, desperate manner compound their indignity — and eventually end up getting expelled anyway.

Early in his career, while serving as a senator under Caligula, Seneca witnessed a searing illustration of this principle. Sen. Julius Canus was widely respected for his personal dignity. One day, in a public debate with Caligula, he utterly bested him. When the senator turned to take his leave, the emperor held him back. “Just so you don’t take comfort from an absurd hope,” Caligula said, “I’ve ordered you to be led away for execution.”

To which Julius Canus calmly replied: “Thank you, best of rulers.” Everyone knew that Caligula was a cruel tyrant, very far from the “best of rulers.”But to Seneca, there was more to Julius Canus’ sarcasm than a desire to have the last word. It suggested also that the condemned was “embracing the sentence joyfully, like a grant of freedom.” When the time comes to die, Seneca observed, it is going to happen anyway — so what’s to be gained from struggling?

By contrast, those who desperately fear death often sacrifice their dignity.Second, fear of death is not only pointless, it prevents us from keeping the right perspective on our lives. Seneca certainly didn’t advise that we should live like foolhardy jackasses; if he were around today and knew about the germ theory of disease, he would take reasonable Covid precautions.

We shouldn’t fear death, he rather contended, precisely because death stalks us at every turn. To live fearlessly we need to make peace with the fact that death is ever-present . . .Death gives meaning to lifeThe third lesson is the most profound, namely, that death gives meaning to life. It is a destination without which life’s path meanders to the point of intolerableness. An excess of life, Seneca thought, is a kind of curse, giving rise to the confusion we associate with tales that have no clear beginning, middle and end.

“No journey is without an endpoint,” he argued. And “just as with storytelling, so with life: It’s important how well it is done, not how long.”This is the lesson most out of tune with the spirit of our age, with its quest for medications that might reverse our biological clock, not to mention the profusion of physical exercises, barely edible concoctions, plastic surgery, skin creams and other supposed aids to living longer or masking the physical symptoms of aging.

Those who long for natural immortality, he argued, should beware of what they wish for. Because at some point, earthly life just gets tiresome — and boring.The state of being alive — fully alive — is possible only in relation to an endpoint, death. It is the certainty of an end to life that allows us to appreciate sacrifice, heroism, love, beauty, the kind of virtuous life of a man like Seneca and the self-sacrifice of the frontline health worker at the height of the pandemic.

So, did Seneca embrace his own death with the courage he demanded from his friends and family members? Did he practice what he spent a lifetime preaching?In the year 65, Seneca was (falsely) implicated in a conspiracy to assassinate Nero. Faced with the usual choice — suicide or execution — Seneca, of course, preferred to take his own leave.”

Read more: The Manila Times »

SMC doubles budget for Pasig River cleanup to ₱2 billion

San Miguel Corporation kickstarted its Pasig River rehabilitation project on June 8, doubling the budget for the program.