Marcus Aurelius

Marcus AureliusIn existographies, Marcus Aurelius (121-180) (IQ:180|#122) (Cattell 1000:50) [RGM:102|1,500+] (Stokes 100:16) (Perry 80:4|Li) (FA:24) (EPD:F3) (GPhE:#) [CR:46], aka "Antoninus" (Holbach, 1770), was a Roman "philosopher king", politician, the 16th Roman emperor (Ѻ), thing philosopher, an adherent of stoicism, an oft-classified “anti-theist” (Ѻ), noted for his keen intellect and wisdom on a number of topics, such as atheism, nature, and change, to name a few, generally known for his Mediations (167AD), characterized as the "gospel of those who do not believe in the supernatural" (Zimmern, 1887), wherein he extols on a common sense practical Heraclitus-Zeno stylized stoicism.
-
Name
Marcus Aurelius was born "Marcus Annius Verus", but after he was adopted by the emperor T. Aurelius Antoninus, he assumed the name "Marcus Aurelius Antoninus", by which he is known to history. [9]
-
Chance | Providence | God?
In 167AD, Aurelius, in his Mediations, attempted to ferret out a position between the Stoic idea of ‘providence’ as the guiding principle of universal operation, the Epicurean notion of an ‘atoms and chance’ based universe, or a god-governed universe; this gist of which is as follows:

“The periodic movements of the universe are the same, up and down from age to age. And either the universal intelligence puts itself in motion for every separate effect, and if this is so, be thou content with that which is the result of its activity; or it puts itself in motion once, and everything else comes by way of sequence in a manner; or indivisible elements are the origin of all things.—In a word, if there is a god, all is well; and if chance rules, do not thou also be governed by it.”
— Marcus Aurelius (167AD), Mediations (§9.28)

The following, according to Jennifer Hecht (2004), is the heart of his concluding position:

“Whether the universe is a concourse of atoms, or nature is a system, let this first be established, that I am part of the whole which is governed by nature; next, I am in a manner intimately related to the parts which are of the same kind with myself.”
— Marcus Aurelius (167AD), Meditations (§10.6)

(add)

Soul | Silliness
Aurelius takes soul theory to its logical conclusions, therein reaching soul silliness conclusions

“If souls continue to exist, how does the air contain them from eternity?—But how does the earth contain the bodies of those who have been buried from time so remote? For as here the mutation of these bodies after a certain continuance, whatever it may be, and their dissolution, make room for other dead bodies, so the souls which are removed into the air after subsisting for some time are transmuted and diffused, and assume a fiery nature by being received into the seminal intelligence of the universe, and in this way make room for the fresh souls which come to dwell there. And this is the answer which a man might give on the hypothesis of souls continuing to exist. But we must not only think of the number of bodies which are thus buried, but also of the number of animals which are daily eaten by us and the other animals. For what a number is consumed, and thus in a manner buried in the bodies of those who feed on them! And nevertheless this earth receives them by reason of the changes [of these bodies] into blood, and the transformations into the aerial or the fiery element. What is the investigation into the truth in this matter? The division into that which is material and that which is the cause of form [the formal].”
— Marcus Aurelius (167AD), Meditations (§4.21)

This type of finding silliness in the details of the conclusions, of the hypothesis of souls, therein leading to a soft indirect dismissal of the theory, is also employed by Cicero and Sam Harris.

Change
The following are Aurelius quotes on change:

Nature, which governs the whole, will soon change all things which thou seest, and out of their substance will make other things, and again other things from the substance of them, in order that the world may be ever new.”
— Marcus Aurelius (c.160), Publication; cited by Edward Clodd (1897) as opening quote in Pioneers of Evolution from Thales to Huxley [7]

“Substance is like a river in continual flow; the energies undergo constant changes and do work in infinite variety. There is hardly anything that stands still or remains still.”
— Marcus Aurelius (c.160), a seeming Heraclitus (475BC) paraphrase; cited by Mellor (1922), in: chapter twelve “Thermodynamics and Thermochemistry” [5]

“Observe constantly that all things take place by change, and accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the universe loves nothing so much as to change the things which are and to make new things like them.”
— Marcus Aurelius (167AD), Meditations (§4.36)

(add)
-
Education
In c.124AD, at age three, Aurelius’ father died, after which he was raised by his grandfathers and nurses. In his early teens, a teacher named Diognetus introduced him to philosophical texts. (Ѻ)
-
Quotes | Employed
The following are quotes employed by Aurelius:
-
“The death of ‘earth’ is to become water, the death of ‘water’ is to become air, and the death of ‘air’ is to become fire, and reversely.”
Heraclitus (c.470BC), “noted saying”; cited by Marcus Aurelius (§4.46) in Meditations (167AD)
-
Quotes | On
The following are quotes on Aurelius:

“You are right; we must speak with respect of Lucretius; I see no one who can compare with him except Byron, and Byron has not his gravity nor the sincerity of his sadness. The melancholy of the ancients seems to me more profound than that of the moderns, who all more or less presuppose an immortality on the yonder side of the black hole. But for the ancients this black hole has the infinite itself; the procession of their dreams is imaged against a background of immutable ebony. The gods being no more and Christ not being not yet, there was between Cicero and Marcus Aurelius a unique moment in which man stood alone. Nowhere else to I find this grandeur; but what renders Lucretius intolerable is his physics, which he gives as if positive. If he is weak, it is because he did not doubt enough; he wished to explain, to arrive at a conclusion!”
Gustave Flaubert (c.1875), “Letter to Madame Roger des Genettes” [3]

“Among men of flesh and bone there have been typical examples of those who possess this tragic sense of life. I recall now Marcus Aurelius, St. Augustine, Pascal, Rousseau, Rene, Obermann, Thomson, Leopardi, Vigny, Lenau, Kleist, Amiel, Quental, Kierkegaard—men burdened with wisdom rather than with knowledge.”
Miguel Unamuno (1912), Tragic Sense of Life [1]

“When in reading a meditative writer like Marcus Aurelius, we know his consciousness and nothing else. There is no good reason to think that statistical methods can anticipate that which, after all, chiefly distinguishes human life from physical processes, namely, original mental synthesis.”
Charles Cooley (1923), “The Roots of Social Knowledge” [4]

“Aurelius admired stoicism – of the variety that did not give much credence to the notion of chance – but he could never choose between the stoic idea of a somehow-ordered universe and the Epicurean’s idea about atoms and chance.”
Jennifer Hecht (2004), Doubt: a History (pg. 155)

“The Epicureans avoided involvement in politics and didn’t challenge the status quo and so were pretty much left in peace by other groups. Their ideas were opposed by the Stoics, and criticized by Cicero. Marcus Aurelius takes the time to reject the Epicurean notion of atoms in his Meditations – the only counter argument his stoicism concedes.”
— Colin Sanders (2013), “Lucretius” [1]

Quotes | By
The following are related quotes:
-
“One who is afraid of an operation of nature, is a child.”
— Marcus Aurelius (167AD), Meditations (2.12)
-
“Nothing is more wretched than a man who traverses everything in a round, and pries into things beneath the earth, as the poet says, and seeks by conjecture what is in the minds of his neighbors, without perceiving that it is sufficient to attend to the daemon within him, and to reverence it sincerely.”
— Marcus Aurelius (167AD), Meditations (2.13)
-
“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”
— Marcus Aurelius (167AD), Meditations, Book II (2.11?) (Ѻ)(Ѻ)

“We must expect death with tranquility, seeing that it is only a dissolution of the elements of which each animal is composed.”
— Marcus Aurelius (167AD), Meditations (Book 2); cited by Baron d’Holbach (1770) in The System of Nature (pg. 130)

“For any particular thing, ask: What is it in itself? What is its nature?”
— Marcus Aurelius (c.170) Source; cited in Silence of the Lambs (1991)

“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.”
— Marcus Aurelius (c.170)

“I seek after truth, by which no man ever yet was injured.”
— Marcus Aurelius (c.170) [2]

See also
● Harry Watson

References
1. Unamuno, Miguel de. (1912). Tragic Sense of Life (pgs. 18, 94-95). Dover, 1954.
2. Plumptre, Constance E. (1888). Natural Causation: an Essay in Four Parts (pg. 11). Unwin.
3. (a) Flaubert, Gustave. (1910). Correspondance, Troisieme Serie (1854-1869). Paris.
(b) Unamuno, Miguel de. (1912). Tragic Sense of Life (94-95). Dover, 1954.
4. (a) Cooley, Charles H. (1926). “The Roots of Social Knowledge” (pgs. 65, 77), American Journal of Sociology,12:59-79.
(b) Brown, Richard H. (1977). A Poetic for Sociology: Toward a Logic of Discovery for the Human Sciences (pg. 145). University of Chicago Press, 1989.
5. (a) Mellor, Joseph W. (1922). A Comprehensive Treatise on Inorganic and Theoretical Chemistry, Volume One (§: Chemical Affinity, pgs. 291-93; §12: Thermodynamics and Thermochemistry, pgs. 688-; Magnus, 32+ pgs; “accidental forms”, pg. 688; Aurelius, pg. 688). Longmans.
(b) Mellor, Joseph W. (1922). A Comprehensive Treatise on Inorganic and Theoretical Chemistry, Volume Two. Longmans.
6. Sanders, Colin. (2013). “Lucretius” (V) (txt) (11:16-min), HistoryScientist, YouTube, Aug 16.
7. Clodd, Edward. (1897). Pioneers of Evolution from Thales to Huxley: with an Intermediate Chapter on the Causes of the Arrest of Movement (Ѻ)(pdf) (pg. xii). D. Appleton and Co.
8. Hecht, Jennifer M. (2003). Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas (§:Marcus Aurelius, pgs. 155-62). HarperOne.
9. Aurelius, Marcus. (167AD). Meditations (translator: George Long; Introduction: Alice Zimmern) (name, pg. 17). Publisher, 1887; DigiReads, 2015.

Further reading
● Aurelius, Marcus. (167AD). The Thoughts of the Emperor M. Aurelius Antoninus (translator: George Long). George Bell & Sons, 1901.

External links
Marcus Aurelius – Wikipedia.

TDics icon ns

More pages