Not that I have an over-abundance of time on my hands, but a hobby I have taken up recently is painting. It is a very cathartic process that allows me to be completely immersed in a single task, and it’s meditative as well. I’ve also come to realize that though we are very scientific, much of what we do as researchers is art.
Vita sine litteris mors.
Life without learning [is] death.
~Epistle 82, Letters from a Stoic
I quite like to think that modern science is somewhat based upon the philosophies of Stoicism, which emphasized knowledge as a product of reason. Not only do we know what we know through logical inductions and deductions, but scientists often seek to understand the deeper natural causes of phenomena, what the Stoic philosophers referred to as “Fate”. In modern terms, we prefer to call this “high-level theory”.
Seneca’s Letters, or the Epistulae, to Lucilius in Ancient Rome contain deep philosophical advice on a wide number and variety of topics. While this blog post will certainly not attempt a discussion of a similar magnitude, I do want to highlight a few pieces of advice I’ve learned this month.