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That One Should Disdain Hardships summary

Musonius Rufus

The Teachings of a Roman Stoic

4.6 (144 ratings)
21 mins

Brief summary

'That One Should Disdain Hardships' by Musonius Rufus is a collection of lectures on stoicism. It emphasizes the importance of self-discipline, virtue, and the rejection of worldly pleasures to achieve true happiness.

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    That One Should Disdain Hardships
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    Stoicism is a practical lesson in living well.

    What is the purpose of philosophy?

    Virtually all philosophers, past and present, agree that it helps us understand the world.

    The Roman Stoic Gaius Musonius Rufus was no exception, but he thought it could do more than that. Philosophy illuminates the world, he believed, but what really counts is what we do once we’ve seen things clearly.

    The key message here is: Stoicism is a practical lesson in living well.

    Stoics in the Roman imperial era didn’t spend much time debating the technical aspects of philosophy. What they were really interested in was ethics – the principles governing behavior.

    As they saw it, activities like listening to philosophical lectures and learning to craft clever arguments had little intrinsic value. Theory had to be connected with practice, and doctrine with daily life.

    Take one of the most famous tenets of Stoicism – the idea that reasoning correctly is the key to virtue and that this kind of virtue is the only real good in life.

    Stoics begin with a theoretical claim. The world, they argue, is divided into things we can control and things we can’t. Almost everything we conventionally value – wealth, pleasure, and health, for instance – falls into the latter category of the uncontrollable. Fate, after all, is fickle. Pleasures are fleeting, fortunes can be wiped out in an instant, and even the healthiest body can be overtaken by crippling illness. Similarly, the apparent evils we seek to avoid – poverty, pain, and death – are also beyond our control.

    But this fact shouldn’t cause us to despair. In Musonius’s words, the gods have given us power over the best thing of all – reason. Put differently, we can decide how we respond to uncontrollable events and what kind of judgments we form about them.

    Of course, health is preferable to sickness, just as a full stomach is better than an empty stomach – but if we can’t be sure of avoiding hardships, the real question is how we deal with them. Will we add misery and self-pity to penury and illness, or will we face such challenges with serenity and cheerfulness? Will we mindlessly pursue wealth and live in fear of death, or will we spend our time cultivating virtue?

    This, Musonius argues, is the choice that confronts every human. To choose philosophy is to choose the second path – the path that leads to true happiness.

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    What is That One Should Disdain Hardships about?

    That One Should Disdain Hardships (2020) is a collection of lectures delivered in imperial Rome in the first century CE by the Stoic Gaius Musonius Rufus. Heralded as the “Roman Socrates,” Musonius’s philosophy is anything but academic. Designed to help listeners lead the best possible lives, his lectures hone in on practical, everyday questions. The result? A doctrine that you really can live by.

    That One Should Disdain Hardships Review

    That One Should Disdain Hardships (2021) by Musonius Rufus is a thought-provoking book that explores the importance of resilience and embracing difficulties. Here's why you should give this book a read:

    • It offers practical strategies to cultivate resilience and develop a mindset that can handle any challenge.
    • By examining the philosophy of Stoicism and providing real-life examples, the book helps readers find strength in adversity and navigate life's ups and downs.
    • The book's emphasis on personal growth and achieving inner tranquility makes it a stimulating and enriching read, proving that hardships can be a stepping stone to a fulfilling life.

    Best quote from That One Should Disdain Hardships

    Philosophy is nothing else than to search out by reason what is right and proper and by deeds to put it into practice.

    —Musonius Rufus
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    Who should read That One Should Disdain Hardships?

    • Philosophers and thinkers
    • History buffs
    • Practical-minded ethicists

    About the Author

    Gaius Musonius Rufus was born around 30 CE in what is now the Lazio region of Italy, which was then at the heart of the growing Roman empire. A teacher in Rome during the reign of Nero, Musonius was one of the first century’s most influential Stoic philosophers. He died around 101 CE.

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    That One Should Disdain Hardships FAQs 

    What is the main message of That One Should Disdain Hardships?

    The main message of That One Should Disdain Hardships is to overcome challenges and find inner strength.

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    The reading time for That One Should Disdain Hardships varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is That One Should Disdain Hardships a good book? Is it worth reading?

    That One Should Disdain Hardships is worth reading for its inspirational lessons on resilience and personal growth.

    Who is the author of That One Should Disdain Hardships?

    The author of That One Should Disdain Hardships is Musonius Rufus.

    What to read after That One Should Disdain Hardships?

    If you're wondering what to read next after That One Should Disdain Hardships, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • How to Think Like a Roman Emperor by Donald Robertson
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    • Letters from a Stoic by Seneca
    • A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine
    • The Fate of Rome by Kyle Harper
    • Philosophy for Life by Jules Evans
    • The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
    • A Handbook for New Stoics by Massimo Pigliucci and Gregory Lopez
    • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford