Sunday, May 10, 2009
The Art of Being Human - The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius - Unpublished Selections Explained, Med. XI.05
Meditation XI.05 - The Art of Being Human - Translated by George Long and rewritten by Russell McNeil
What is your art? To be good. And how is this accomplished well except by general principles, some about the nature of the universe, and others about the proper constitution of humanity?1
(1) The Greek word for art is techne. Art requires a rational process in the production of an object or the accomplishment of an objective. The principle objective of human life in the Stoic scheme is to be happy. We can achieve this objective only through virtue. Being virtuous requires the study and full understanding of nature and her laws or "general principles." In so doing we will see that nature is beautiful - in the true sense of this word - and good. We will also understand that we as human beings are integrated fully into the fabric of this natural design, and that we too are beautiful and good. Our art then is to be what we by nature truly are: good. As creatures with free will, we do have the option not to develop this art. The art of being human requires perseverance and cultivation.
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 The unpublished selections presented in this Blog are provided as supplemental material to the published selections which are annotated and explained in the book.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.