Tag Archives: Marcus Aurelius


“No surplus words or unnecessary actions,” says Marcus Aurelius. “No random actions, none not based on underlying principles.” It’s an appealing principle by which to live, but in the end I always give it up because it itself seems random and unnecessary. It’s a principle of poetry, not ethics — and there’s something very unpoetic about a life lived consciously as poetry.


Filed under Ethics

A thought from Marcus

From Meditations 5.20, translated by Gregory Hays:

The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting.

The impediment to action advances action.

What stands in the way becomes the way.

How very close this is to that trite old stumbling-block-to-stepping-stone bromide — and, having been just a little bit more clearly thought out and more ably expressed, how much deeper! Some schlock is wisdom sung off-key.

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Filed under Philosophy