Feeling Young in Old Age Is a Mistake According to Seneca

Wednesday April 10th 2024 by socraticDev

Distracted by vain thoughts throughout their lives, failing to transmute their experiences into wise maturity, in their elderly bodies, they still feel like adolescents

[...] the most precious day is the one that first escapes unfortunate mortals, that is, the busy ones; and who, still children even in old age, reach it unprepared and defenseless. Indeed, they have foreseen nothing; they have fallen into old age suddenly, without expecting it; they do not see it getting closer every day.

Studying philosophy is to open one's mind to ideas that swim against the current. To benefit from the wisdom passed down by the philosophical tradition is to question certain opinions cherished by our loved ones. Often unexamined opinions act as an opiate, shielding us from the inherent suffering of human existence.

We are inclined to admire our elders when they make remarks about their old age:

  • "Being old is all in the mind"
  • "Age is just a number"
  • "I still feel like I'm 16"

Seneca, however, would shake his head in disapproval.

His book "On the Shortness of Life" presents an argument for living a human life in the present moment. Considering death as a certainty; believing that we will be alive next year: a gamble. He argues against "procrastination". Procrastination involves postponing an action or decision. He would also criticize an excess of nostalgia or time wasted dwelling on the past. In vain.

Living in the present and acting decisively is the prescription of the Roman philosopher. The remedy against a wasted life. A potion for a fulfilled life.

Life is short, and it seems that many of our contemporaries come to its end without truly having lived

translated from french by chatgpt3.5 following prompt: "can you translate this from french to english. correct obvious grammar mistake, but keep the same tone"


Seneca, On the Shortness of Life, free text