Musonius Rufus' Lectures & Sayings

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A series of short audio meditations on the Lectures & Sayings of Musonius Rufus, Epictetus’ teacher.

Lectures

I.1: Musonius Rufus reminds us of the difference between useful philosophy and dull mind games.

I.6: Musonius Rufus says that philosophers should speak clearly, and most of all should live the way they talk.

II.4: Musonius Rufus says that nobody is born a writer, musician, or athlete. People get there by studying and practicing. The same goes for virtue.

III.1: Musonius Rufus says women have the same reasoning abilities as man, the same faculty of distinguishing good from bad.

III.3: Musonius Rufus reminds us why we study philosophy, a different pursuit from what goes on in the modern academy.

III.7: Musonius Rufus says that philosophy is like medicine: if it does not make you a healthier person, it is not useful.

IV.2, 4 & 8: Musonius Rufus says in no uncertain terms that men and women are capable, and indeed deserve, the same education, including in philosophy.

V.4: Musonius Rufus tells us that theory is important, and needs to precede practice. But it is the latter that makes the whole thing worth it.

VI.1-2: Musonius Rufus tells us that it isn’t enough to know that we should be virtuous, we need to constantly practice virtue. Stoicism is not a magic wand, but it will change your life, and is well worth the effort.

VI.4: Our body is a preferred indifferent, but Musonius Rufus tells us to take whatever care we can of it, as it is also an instrument of virtue. In other words, go to the gym…

VI.7: Musonius Rufus reminds us that we often act out of simple habit, without paying attention to what we are doing and why. Not the best way to proceed in life.

VII.1: Musonius Rufus rather sarcastically reminds us that being bad requires just as much work as being good, so why not choose the latter instead?

VII.2: Musonius Rufus reminds us that it is far easier to curb our desire for our neighbor’s wife than to pursue it Not to mention that it is the right thing to do.

VII.5: Musonius Rufus, in an implicit rebuttal to the Epicureans, reminds us of all the things that is worth experiencing pain to achieve, most importantly being a good, just, and temperate person.

VII.5: Musonius Rufus articulates the Stoic equivalent of “no pain, no gain,” in part as a rebuke to the Epicureans. Engaging in social and political life is painful, but it’s the right thing to do.

VIII.5: Musonius Rufus reminds us that self control is a crucial component of the cardinal virtue of temperance. This doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy pleasures, only that we need to do it in proper measure.

VIII.5: Musonius Rufus advises us to follow a minimalist life style, closer to the so-called “Cynic” wing of the Stoic movement. Why is that? Because reducing temptations helps us practicing virtue, as we’ll see by way of an example featuring gelato.

Sayings

22: Musonius Rufus reminds us that we can, and should, only live in the present.

23: Musonius Rufus reminds us that we might have the same bad inclinations as other people, so we should start working on ourselves first.

24: Self-control, often referred to as the fourth cardinal virtue of temperance, is crucial to Stoicism and other philosophies of life.

25: Musonius Rufus reminds us to be on guard concerning the effects that both pain and pleasure may have on our character.

26: If we speak badly, we think badly, and we are more likely to act badly.

28: Choose to die well while you can; wait too long, and it might become impossible to do so.

29: It is not proper for one to die who is helpful to many while he is alive, unless by dying he is helpful to more.

32: Don’t expect to tell others what they should do when they know that you do what you shouldn’t.

36: In order to protect ourselves we must live like doctors and be continually treating ourselves with reason.

36: Words of advice and warning administered when a person’s emotions are at their height and boiling over, accomplish little or nothing.

37: Musonius Rufus is confronted by a critic about what it means to live according to Zeus, or Nature.

38: Musonius Rufus reminds us that our most precious faculty is our ability to challenge impressions.

38: Musonius Rufus clearly states how to implement the dichotomy of control in our lives.

44: A rare glimpse into the life of young Epictetus, when he gets criticized by his teacher, Musonius Rufus.

48: The philosopher’s school is a doctor’s office. You must leave not pleased, but pained, because you do not come in healthy.

51.2: Musonius Rufus contrasts the short duration of a shameful pleasure with the lingering regret that will follow.

Letter to Pankratides, 2: Musonius Rufus says that the combination of experience and self-control allow us to do what is right by others and ourselves.

Letter to Pankratides, 6: While wealth is a preferred indifferent, luxury is more problematic, from a Stoic perspective.

Letter to Pankratides, 8: To do philosophy means to reason and act correctly toward others.