How to think like a Roman Emperor | Думать как Римский император

Originally published at: How to think like a Roman Emperor | Думать как Римский император — Рустам Агамалиев

How to think like a Roman Emperor | Думать как римский император

🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

The notes are still being updated.

🎨 Impressions

How I Discovered It

Who Should Read It?

☘️ How the Book Changed Me

How my life / behaviour / thoughts / ideas have changed as a result of reading the book.

✍️ My Top 3 Quotes

📒 Ideas

  • The book begins with the discussion of the definition of true wealth.
    • As many before him, Naval and Taleb he agrees that true wealth sprouts from contentment with what we’ve got, instead of constant desires.

Virtue of Stoics

  • The cornerstone of Stoicism takes root in freemasonry. In four cardinal virtues, which correspond to four corners of the lodge, they were carved it.
    • Prudence – wisdom.
    • Justice – justice.
    • Fortitude – courage.
    • Temperance – moderation.
    • There are additional virtuous allocated in ![[The Practicing Stoic#^f092f2]]
  • These seven virtues are the groundwork for building a character. Call on them in the time of turbulence. Find yourself in them when you are at loss. They are beams of light in the darkness of the world.
  • Modern philosophers lack the agency of the philosophers of ancient times.
    • They are like librarians, who only collect without applying it to daily activities.
    • Philosopher used to be practitioners first, thinkers second. They acted on what they thought, not just curated and collected.

The major question of a man

  • The major question a person should ask himself is the same question Socrates asked Xenophon.
    • Where, then, should one go in order to learn how to become a good person?
    • Who is a good person? How to become one?
      • Maybe a good person is the one who says no more often than yes? Though, ![[Essentialism The Disciplined Pursuit of Less#^5f73aa]]
    • Wise man always ask important questions and carefully listen to answers they receive.
      • Socrates’ approach in all his dialogues. Just need to refresh a couple of them. They have a lot of knowledge to them.
    • Sometime the question turned inward and aimed at oneself.
      • [[Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes are High#Important questions to ask when working with the pool or in the pool]]
  • Socrates on death.
    • Wise man doesn’t fear it. It’s not some scary boogeyman in a hood with a sickle in a skeletal hand. Death has a meaning.
    • Unhood it and take a careful glance at what lurks behind. Make sure there is nothing to be afraid of.
    • No matter what futurologists tell us, Death is just another great adventure.
  • Those who wish to avoid death and run from it imminently find themselves embraced by it.
    • The same could be said about fearful people. Who are afraid of consequences of their actions.
    • Eventually they face what they were afraid, and no matter what would be held responsible. No amount of wriggling on high positions will save them from retribution.
    • Especially true for top managers who are out of their depth and scared by higher authority or chance of losing their place.
  • ![[The Practicing Stoic#Death]]
  • According to Socrates, classical virtues that I’ve written before, could be learned by anyone.
    • [[The Practicing Stoic#Virtue]]
    • Another philosophical school, Cynicism, focused on intentional building of virtue and strength of character through rigorous training that consisted of voluntary enduring various hardships.
      • What hardships do we voluntarily endure?
  • Studying philosophy doesn’t mean collecting knowledge from dusty folios.
    • Don’t allow knowledge of rules of logic, cosmology, and other sciences outside the liberal art’s circle to blind you.
    • Pedantic knowledge, artificially obtained, diverts from the pursuit of virtue. Exclude the possibility for self-improvement.
    • Tinkering vs academia, Taleb.
  • The only thing that matter is we ourselves. Building character.
    • Wisdom is hidden by inessential things that we surround ourselves through life.
    • But everything external is utterly useless, compared to character.
      • [[The Practicing Stoic#Externals]]
      • Such external as monetary wealth creates more opportunities, undoubtedly, but it goes only so far.
      • Money doesn’t have the kind of value that define a good life and becoming a good person.
      • Stop pursuing it. Learn how much do you need for comfortable life and enjoy.
        • Fuck you money, Taleb, or earning in sleep.
  • Don’t bury yourself in works of classical philosophers, it’s a waste of time.
    • It’s ok to be drawn to Stoicism, but it’s not okay to not update in and contextualize with your perspective and experience.
    • Draw as many arguments from modern science and worldview as you wish.
    • Enrich initial practices with new approaches and formulate new conclusions and applications.
  • A good person lives in agreement with nature. ^8d7431
    • Which is similar to live virtuously and wisely.
    • Meaning, think clearly and reason well.
    • It doesn’t matter how much money you are given or other gains you can have from actions. If they are not virtuous, Stoic won’t have them.
    • No matter what, it can’t tip the scale from being virtuous to being only wealthy.
    • Social, material, and physical advantages give foolish man more opportunities to harm himself and others could get in a harms way as well.
  • Stoics view everyone who is worthy and rational enough as brothers and sisters.
    • They cultivate natural affliction to them, according to Stoic’s virtues: justice, fairness, kindness.
    • Oh, Robertson actually says about honesty, kindness.
    • ![[The Practicing Stoic#^f092f2]]
    • Though he omitted saying anything about consistency, it is an underlying notion, about brothers and sisters who live rational and worthy enough lives.
  • Philosophy is not another way of showing off.
    • You can use philosophy in order to become better and smarter, but you have to stay humble.
    • Rhetoricians on the other hand like praise and thrive in vanity.
      • It’s for entertainment. Nice to hear and see.
    • Philosophers love truth and embrace humility.
      • It’s a moral and psychological therapy, often painful due to the admitting our faults. The only way to heal them is to recognize the truth of them.
  • The best way to start training in philosophy is physical practice.
    • Building and endurance to hardships. Start with your body.
    • Learn to endure physical discomfort, and overcome unhealthy habits.
    • Then begin building tolerance to people’s criticism, and avoid quicksand of fine words and flattery.
  • Epictetus said that mastering passions is the first step in Stoicism.
    • It’s called “Discipline of Desire”. Though, it is not only about desires.
      • Fears, aversions are also encompassed in the notion of discipline.
    • [[The Practicing Stoic#Desires]]

[!NOTE] Epictetus
Endure and renounce.

  • A modern way to say this is: bear and forebear.
  • Contemplate the flaws with painter’s eyes.
    • View apparent flaws as a part of a bigger picture. If you draw a cracked vase, you’ll draw the crack as beautifully as the vase.
    • They are inseparable. So the crack, and its worth, become clearer when we see it as a part of something else.
  • Demonstrate moderation in all your actions. Start with food.
    • Eat simple, healthy food that is easy to prepare.
    • Do it mindfully and moderation, not greedily.

[!NOTE] How Marcus came to the throne
Hadrian’s marriage was childless, so in his later years, when his health began to deteriorate, he adopted a successor. To everyone’s surprise, he chose a relatively undistinguished man called Lucius Ceionius Commodus, who then became known as Lucius Aelius Caesar, starting a tradition that the official heir to the empire would assume the title Caesar. However, Lucius was in such poor health that he dropped dead little over a year later. Hadrian reputedly wanted Marcus, now sixteen, to become his successor, but he felt the boy was still too young. Instead, he chose an older man called Titus Aurelius Antoninus, who was already in his early fifties and had two daughters but no surviving sons. He was married to Marcus’s aunt, Faustina. So, as part of a long-term succession arrangement, Hadrian adopted Antoninus on condition that he would in turn adopt Marcus, placing him in direct line to the throne. Hadrian thereby adopted Marcus as his grandson.

  • In [[Meditations]] Marcus regards lack of interest of any praise or approval from others.
    • He considers the wish to take into careful account what others think about himself.
    • Listen to people’s views about yourself.
    • Examine meticulously what needs to be examined.
    • Think patiently about the issue, before coming to reason.
    • Be a calm and rational man.
  • I got it now, why I don’t persuade anybody of anything.
    • As Appolonius famously said: “The master ought not to come to the pupil, but the pupil to the master”.
    • He says plainly that if the future emperor doesn’t wish to be taught, then no amount of visiting and sitting can correct this state of affairs.
    • It rhymes incredibly with the state of modern education, we teach, in majority, those who don’t wish to be taught, and it is sad fact by itself.
    • Help only those who seek help.
  • Epictetus described a specific approach to any stressful situation, such as a storm at sea.
    • First the initial impression trigger the reaction, it could be a clap of thunder, banging of the door, prankster around the corner.
    • Second comes our response to the event.
      • We usually add our judgment to the picture. Automatic expression.
      • Stoics don’t go with the first response, they don’t get emotional at all.
      • They don’t confirm the existence of emotions, they are rejected outright as misleading and harmful.
      • They relate to the impression in quiet and tranquil manner. It’s only impression. Nothing more.
    • A third stage might emerge, falling to passion and reacting without thinking, which turn itself into panic.
      • The task of the Stoic do not allow this to happen.
  • True bravery happens when carry on no matter what has happened and deal with events itself and consequences rationally.
    • But once again, [[What is rationality]] in this context?

Definition of Philosophy

[!NOTE] About confusion between Stoicism and stoicism (capital letters)
Stoicism differs from stoicism, and we should mix one with another. The first one is our acceptance of involuntary emotions as neither bad or good. It’s not about feelings, but about our response to them. Whether the second concept is often thought as an ability to suppress emotions which are viewed as shameful and harmful. It’s not just psychology, but also with a serious conflict with the original Stoicism.

  • Three definitions of philosophy.
    • Philosophy is about grasping the reality. From this book, and to more from another.
    • ![[The Practicing Stoic#^5b5230]]
    • ![[The Practicing Stoic#^6183b4]]
    • ![[The Practicing Stoic#^28daa1]]
  • A great addition to [[How to speak How to listen]] by Adler is the idea of how to speak wisely, according to Stoics.
    • For Stoics, honesty and simplicity of language are hidden in two main principles.
    • Conciseness.
    • Objectivity.
    • In other words, they are extremely simple, stop complaining and do something.
      • One of the best performance on the topic of doing and not thinking has been done by Cumberbatch.
  • As told before, Stoicism doesn’t lower itself to consider something as good or bad.
    • Everything is just an external event, they lack intrinsic value first moment they happen.
    • And because of that, we tend to act irrationally and sporadically.
    • It is a form of self-deception.
    • We define an event in the form of language. That’s why I think definitions are coffin for true meaning. [[Что такое рациональность и какая связь с критическим мышлением#^ec7da3]]
    • As soon as we imposed word such as catastrophe to something, we went beyond bare facts and the process of distortion of true events had begun.
  • When talking about events, keep in mind five virtuous of speech.
    • Correct grammar and vocabulary.
    • Clarity of expressions, making ideas easily understood.
    • Conciseness, implying no more words that needed.
    • Appropriateness of style, suited for subject and audience.
    • Distinction, or artistic style, avoid vulgarity at all cost.
    • Great addition to [[How to brush the note for others. Ilyahovs tips]]
  • Said above is also a great way to avoid falling into passions.
    • Rhetoric has been created to emotionally invest a person to the cause.
    • A heuristic to avoid such thing is written above, reformulate everything you hear differently. Tips are higher.
    • Marcus thought that there is nothing greater than an ability to strip events of passions, examine rationally and view them realistically. The ability to look at the core, at the essential characteristic, gives a superpower over those who can’t.
    • As an aspiring Stoic, learn this ability to strip inessential, keep important and look at the heart of things. Describe events objectively and in less emotion terms.
  • This leads us to reframing approach.
    • When hardships arises, reframe it as an opportunity to cope by exercising wisdom and strength of character.
    • Practice deliberate description of events in plain language, devoid of ambiguities and second meanings.
      • Take a pen and paper and begin doing it.
    • There is another depth in it. When you mastered the art of writing plainly, try asking on paper someone you admire and hold in high esteem what his reaction to the even would have been.
      • [[Harry Potter and the methods of rationality#^cbca16]] Harry did this in his head.
    • Read aloud your script or compose several versions.
      • Do it until you’re satisfied about how you feel about events.
  • Marcus considered it a separation between value judgments and external events.
    • Distancing in such way allows viewing one’s thought not like reality, but like a construction of reality.
  • Dichotomy of Control or Stoic Fork.
    • Some things are under our control and some not.
    • Remembering that can help in recovering the sense of indifference towards external things.
    • Defining something as good or bad leads to believe that we want it or wish to avoid it.
      • Though is something is out of our control it is irrational to demand it or avoid it.
    • This creates a contradiction of wishing and not being able to have it.
      • This is the root cause for the majority emotional sufferings.
      • Only acts of our volition, intentional judgments, are directly under our control.
  • Saying what is wrong is the crucial among friends, and accepting the critic is even more important.
    • A wise man should shine from criticism of friends. He must welcome it and ask for it.
    • The real goal of Stoicism is wisdom.
      • Saying truth is not enough. We have to put more effort into being heard. And learn how to communicate effectively with others.
      • [[Навык обратной связи 4A]]
    • Give permission to offer critical feedback and don’t be angry with it. Look and your faults, embrace them and learn from it.
  • Never drop vigilance, unexpected trial may come at any moment.
    • Be ready to face it and bear the consequences as if you are going to answer to a teacher.
    • Act as if every step is scrutinized by unseen spectator who keeps tab in every action you perform. Let it be your mindfulness practice.
    • It allows you to pay more attention to behaviour and character.
  • There is a speculation that as soon as Marcus lost his Stoic mentor, Rusticus, immediately after he began writing Meditations.
    • It was a form of self mentoring through diary.
    • Diary or Zettelkasten?
    • Ancient form of self-help, keeping diary.

[!NOTE] On the term “Mentor
The term “mentor” comes from Homer’s Odyssey. Athena, the goddess of wisdom and virtue, disguises herself as a friend of Odysseus named Mentor so that she can counsel his son Telemachus, who is in grave danger.

  • Everybody need a mentor, but this commodity hard to come by, and what we find might turn expensive. There is another approach, to the task of searching yourself a mentor.
    • Writing and imagining.
    • Marcus did exactly that after the death of Rusticus.
    • Conjure advisor, as [[Harry Potter and the methods of rationality#^cbca16]] did it Azkaban. Different sides of his personality employed diverse strategies, not all successful, but all without exception creative.
    • In order to make your personal role model, you need to right down the virtues he or she demonstrates. Or better, find yourself a real-life role model to turn to in moments of hardships for advice. Even an imagined mentor is better than none.
  • Simple daily Stoic practice. Which involves learning cycle.
    • Get ready in the morning, be mindful during the day (live consistently to your values), review in the evening.
    • Seneca used nightly reviews to meditate about gone day.
      • ![[The Practicing Stoic#^7cfc6b]]
    • Morning meditation.
      • As soon as you wake up, contemplate the day ahead and ask questions.
      • What would be the consequences if you acted a slave to your passions?
      • How your day would be different if you exhibited self-discipline and wisdom?
    • Evening meditation.
      • Ask yourself three simple questions.
      • What did you do badly?
      • What did you do well?
      • What could you do differently?
  • Classical Socratic questioning forms an approach called “Value clarification”.
    • [[How to speak How to listen]] touches the topic of questioning.
    • Socrates had based his dialogues on constantly asking and putting his opponent into awkward position, forcing him to think.
    • Refuting all arguments and nonetheless making him better.
      • [[Мышление Платона]]
    • Another thing we can do with it is to clarify our lives, such as asking yourself constant question about our goals and priorities.
      • What is ultimately, the most important thing in life?
      • What do you really want your life to stand for or represent?
      • What do you want to be remembered after you are dead?
      • What sort of person do want to be in life?
      • What sort of character do you want to have?
      • What would you want written on your tombstone?
  • A bit of therapy. Make a list of desired thing in life and admired qualities.
    • Juxtapose them and be surprised by matching.

Brainstorm ways of satisfying core values, something simple. Teach somebody, share something, make anybody happy, praise for work, gift a smile, cheer up a friend or a stranger.

  • People confuse pleasure with happiness and because of that find themselves in weird situations.
    • Happiness could be achieved from within, it is intrinsically born and cultivated.
    • He Hercules who chose hardship instead of pleasure and idleness.
    • He remained cheerful even in the face of dangers. Enjoined profound satisfaction from fulfilling his destiny.
    • It could be achieved only if you have purpose in life.
      • What is my purpose? Can I formulate in concisely?
        • Good point of discussion.
  • Stoics don’t recognize pleasure as something good or bad.
    • They see a state of mind as rather good or bad, healthy or unhealthy.
    • And in depends on sources of joy.
    • Where is your source of joy? Where from you draw happiness? Can you share if it’s not to intimate.
  • On the topic of Joy.
    • Stoics don’t view it as a goal of life. It’s a byproduct of wisdom.
      • If joy is sought at the expense of wisdom, it will lead astray.
    • Stoic’s joy is fundamentally active. It’s not passive.
      • Joy is a result of virtuous deeds we commit daily. Bodily pleasures are born from experience that happen to us, they are consequences of actions, eating, sex, physical extortion, etc.
      • Remember, Socrates believed that real joy comes from moderation. We obtain more pleasure from self-control than from indulgence to excess. [[Дисциплина это свобода]] again and again.
  • Decision of Stoics are simple dichotomies.
    • Is it the path of vice? Excessive desires, unhealthy habits.
    • Or path of virtue? Self-discipline, following intrinsic values.
      [[Думай как римский император 1-4]]

📚 Related Books

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Черкну свой отзыв тут, что-то уже забыл как мы это организуем на форуме :slight_smile:

Книга оказалась довольно интересной, несмотря на то, что её лейт-мотив следующий: а стоики вот так делали, а стоики вот так думали, а стоики вот такие! Однако, несмотря на то, что из книги веет отношением к Cтоицизму как к абсолюту, я думаю, что это круто.

В Стоицизме нет гуру. Даже основатели школы Зенон, Клеанф и Хрисипп не утверждали, что они обладают абсолютной мудростью. Они считали, что мы все глупы, порочны и в разной степени порабощены нашими страстями.

Основные темы книги это: осознанность, как наши суждения нам вредят и как от них дистанцироваться, объективность и отношения с людьми, стоическое принятие. Всё это даётся от простого (наши суждения) к сложному (принятию смерти).

Раздел о ТОС теперь появляется в каждом моём отзыве :slight_smile:

Когда мы рисовали “грозовую тучу”, то в качестве исходных посылок использовали как раз те оценочные суждения, от которых стоики предлагают дистанцироваться. Люди могут использовать оценочные суждения не только под влиянием эмоций, но и с целью манипуляций. Однако, всегда лучше предполагать глупость, чем заговор.

Тема привычек

Раскрыта не так полно как в “Атомных привычках” Клира, однако алгоритм, который даёт автор очень напоминает то, что мы увидели в этой книге, только с разрезе осознанности.

Принятие смерти

Хороший финал. Логическое завершение темы о стоическом принятии. Однако, на мой взгляд можно было бы добавить побольше о том, что люди пытаясь “оставить след в вечности” делают много нехорошего. На этом фоне принятие смерти смотрелось бы эпичнее.


Я стал читать эту книгу из-за отсылок на стоицизм в “Антихрупкости” Талеба. Довольно парадоксальные ощущения по итогу. Хочется больше углубиться в тему, чтобы либо опровергнуть представления изложенные Талебом о Сократе, либо убедиться в их актуальности.

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Присоединяйся к книжному клубу :slight_smile: твоих комментариев не хватает :slight_smile:
Прочел с удовольствием твои заметочки.

Попробую организоваться в эти выходные :slight_smile:

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