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The Inner Citadel

The Inner Citadel

by Pierre Hadot, Mark Aurel (Römisches Reich, Kaiser), Emperor of Rome Marcus Aurelius

In the Inner Citadel, Hadot applies to Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations his characteristic interpretative approach: treating ancient philosophy as a “way of life” in particular one which provides its students with “spiritual exercises” to enable them to make progress towards wisdom and treating ancie...

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One of the most incredible things about Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations was that he wrote the book only for himself; he never intended for it to be published or read by anyone else. I think this makes the original work seem all the more powerful. Marcus wrote these brilliant, incredibly lucid passag...

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Hadot points out, by laboriously grouping together all the passages in Meditations which share a common theme, that there are in fact very few original simulate the words of others, turn them around in his head and reformulate them in a way that makes sense to him. They’re not neat or coherent, a...

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The Stoic says that everything else– disease, war, suffering, others’ aggression toward you– is completely neutral and is neither good nor evil.

This is what is meant by “The Inner Citadel.” The Stoics believed that your soul is your stronghold. It’s the only thing over which you have compl...

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There are two kinds of things in the world– those you can control and those you cannot. Accept the things you cannot and work ceaselessly to perfect the things you can.

That’s it. It’s a very simple philosophy. Or as Hadot says, “There is no good b...

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  •  Judge everything objectively
  • Don’t wish your circumstances to be any different than they are.
  • Be fair, generous, and dignified, both to yourself and to others.

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You must eliminate all prejudice. See things as they are, and never as anything else. “To lay them bare… to strip away the legend that encrusts them,” Marcus says. When you experience things in the world, in a sense you’re having a dialogue. You see a painting and the painting seems to ask you “D...

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When you smell rotting garbage or experience physical pain, your answer is “This is uncomfortable. You are bad.” To the Stoics, this is not ideal. Instead, try to be objective and quiet your inner discourse with the world. See things only as they are, and resist the temptation to add your own tho...

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The second point is to love your fate and to fearlessly accept whatever happens to you without complaint. The Stoics had a complicated relationship with Destiny or Fate, but the basic point is that you shouldn’t complain. Anything bad that happens is not an obstacle, but it is actually an opportu...

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Your weaknesses are actually your strengths if you frame them correctly in your mind, and when you encounter something blocking your path, it is merely a chance to practice some new virtue that you have been neglecting. Patience, tolerance, persistence, courage, or something else. If you don’t lo...

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The first two principles deal with the right thoughts and frame of mind. This is all nice in theory, but what principles should guide our actions day-to-day? What does Stoicism look like in its practical application? That’s number three– right actions. First: you must concentrate every minute on ...

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