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The stoic thinking of a Philosopher-King

By Marcus Aurelius
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Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Meditations (170-180 AD) is a journey through the mind of the great Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius. These blinks offer philosophical ruminations on the meaning of death and justice, the nature of the world and why things happen the way they do.

Key idea 1 of 6

Logos is a concept that encompasses and orders the entire universe.

There were various philosophical schools during antiquity, covering a range of different subjects, from nature to human action. However, a central aspect of these ancient philosophical teachings that cut across various topics was the concept of logos.

This word, which roughly translates to “reason,” was applied by such famous philosophers as Heraclitus and Aristotle, and was also of central importance to the author, Marcus Aurelius.

His view was that logos can be seen everywhere; it makes up the earth, trees and even us as humans. However, logos does not just give everything form; it also gives it order.

For humans, this means that logos determines who is placed where in society, and how that person should be respected. So, it is logos which decrees that slaves should be treated as such and that emperors should be treated much better.

But why should we agree to such unequal placings?

Because logos, the immutable essence of life and underlying master plan for all events, encompasses the entire world and, therefore, constitutes the ideal way to order it. In fact, logos is perpetually working to move the universe forward in the best way possible.

So, even when the author went through difficult periods in his life, he kept faith that they fit into the grand plan of logos, since everything that happens is exactly right and no one should desire change. Therefore, even when the majority of his family had passed away and uprisings challenged his empire, the author held true to his belief that it was all meant to be.

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