If you like it or not the internet has brought the news, and most of their accompanying opinions, close, and constantly to us. I am old enough to know what life was without the internet. When I was 16 and needed to know something specific I went to the library or to that neighbor with a 24-volume encyclopedia. But at sixteen I was still to self-absorbed to notice much of the outside world let alone the opinions that people had on the news. I’m pretty sure that the news and opinions of others were known by my parents but probably in bigger chunks, less diverse and from nearby. I don’t try to find out what is better, but I can say that I think that the receiving end is more important than the input, or in other words, a critical mind is important.
Where am I going with this introduction? It started when I read the following text this morning:
“She has shown herself kindly; life, if you know how to use it, is long. But one man is possessed by an avarice that is insatiable, another by a toilsome devotion to tasks that are useless; one man is besotted with wine, another is paralyzed by sloth; one man is exhausted by an ambition that always hangs upon the decision of others, another, driven on by the greed of the trader, is led over all lands and all seas by the hope of gain; some are tormented by a passion for war and are always either bent upon inflicting danger upon others or concerned about their own” Seneca De brevitate vitae
For some reason I’m always intrigued by 2000-year-old text describing our time. But off course they don’t describe our time, they describe human behavior. And that is what’s so amazing, Seneca lived in another time, place, culture, and society but he looked around, was critical and saw thing that you still can see today, in another totally different time, place, culture, and society.
We are not that different as human beings despite all the nonsense you (can) read on the internet.
That’s another reason I read books from dead philosophers and writers. I want to remind myself that all the noise you hear all day is mostly noise. Most of the modern books you read or opinions you hear are refurbished ideas of the dead philosophers and writers. I like to take away the middleman, the noise and go direct to the source. By going as close as possible to the source you get a free reminder that life was not so different 2000, 500 or a 100 years ago. That we are all human beings with a brain that functions more or less the same fore thousands of years now no matter the host it’s in.
“I have labored carefully, not to mock, lament, or execrate human actions, but to understand them; and, to this end, I have looked upon passions, such as love, hatred, anger, envy, ambition, pity, and the other perturbations of the mind, not in the light of vices of human nature, but as properties, just as pertinent to it, as are heat, cold, storm, thunder, and the like to the nature of the atmosphere, which phenomena, though inconvenient, are yet necessary, and have fixed causes, by means of which we endeavor to understand their nature, and the mind has just as much pleasure in viewing them aright, as in knowing such things as flatter the senses.” Baruch Spinoza Political Treatise (1677)