Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Nature of Inquiry - The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius - Unpublished Selections Explained, Med. XII.18

Meditation XII.18 - The Nature of Inquiry - Translated by George Long and rewritten by Russell McNeil

In everything always observe what the thing is which produces for you an appearance, and resolve it by dividing it into the formal, the material, the purpose, and the time within which it must end.1


(1) Inquiry lies at the heart of Stoic method. The goal of inquiry is to discover the nature of things both with respect to their particular composition and with respect to their place and purpose with reference to everything else. This requires a multi-dimensional and a multi-disciplinary approach. The "formal, the material, [and] the purpose" is the approach to causality prescribed by Aristotle (see also Meditation XII.29) - a far more comprehensive task than modern science generally attempts in its approach to nature. Modern science restricts its activity to material and efficient causality. Stoic inquiry, in contrast to modern scientific inquiry, is ultimately interested in nature not just for nature's sake, but in order to better uncover the moral basis for living. This moral basis becomes clearer as we unlock the mysteries ruling the cosmos.

Russell McNeil, PhD, is the author of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: Selections Annotated and Explained by Skylight Paths Publishing. The unpublished selections presented in this Blog are provided as supplemental material to the published selections which are annotated and explained in the book. The published selections are referenced in this Blog by page number and section.

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