Marcus Aurelius Essay: Roman Emperor & Stoic Philosopher
An individual project to be written in the form of an essay in which students engage with and discuss critically the work of a famous philosopher.
Description of Assessment 2: An individual project to be written in the form of an essay of not more than 2000 words.
Students are to select for close study a famous philosopher who is either (a) discussed in the lectures; or (b) is acknowledged in the textbooks but not discussed in the lectures.
Philosopher Chosen – “Marcus Aurelius” - Roman Emperor and Stoic Philosopher
In the final essay, students should include answers to the following questions:
1. What are the philosopher's main arguments?
2. What are the main strengths and weaknesses of the philosophy?
3. What can managers learn from this philosopher?
The present Marcus Aurelius essay sheds light on one of the known Roman Emperor and a known Stoic Philosopher of 2nd Century, Marcus Aurelius. Marcus was born in 121 C.E. and attained his education from the Emperor Hadrian. His education as later adopted by the Emperor Antonius Pius in 138 C.E. Later Marcus was seen to become an emperor himself in the 161 AD along with Lucius Versus. Soon after his education Marcus was seen to abandon it in favor of philosophy. His philosophy lies on his famous work Meditations. According to the research on Marcus Aurelius essay, Marcus was known to be born in a wealthy family with a strong political background (Hutcheson, 2012). From his childhood he was known for his dedication as a student, especially in the field of Latin and Greek. However, since he started taking education his interest lied on Stoicism, which is a philosophy that emphasized on facts such as fate, reason and self-restraint. He was highly indulged in the works of stoic philosopher Epictetus and it had a great influenced on his behavior (Brummer, 018). He was a hard working child and this attracted the attention of Emperor Hadrian.
The readings considered to prepare this Marcus Aurelius essay signifies that soon at the age of 17 Marcus was adopted by Antoninus and worked alongside him as an emperor to learn about ways of working of government and public affairs. It was in 140 that Marcus was seen to enter politics and became a leader of the senate. However, even during his political role he continued his philosophical studies and interest towards law. Marcus acquired as the position of an independent emperor in 161 after the death of his adoptive father and came to be known as Marcus Antoninus Augustus. As discussed in the Marcus Aurelius essay, even after being an emperor Marcus held his views and interests on the philosophy and came up with his personal notebook with the name of Meditations. This was his start as a philosopher. Marcus reign was subjected to several problems and in that situation he had to recall the teaching of his stoic teaching with the aim to manage all his challenges as an emperor (Hutcheson, 2012). This made his philosophy to rely on stoic beliefs and behaviors. The society is grateful to learn about his teaching of meditations and the philosophical learning that he derived from the Stoic philosophy.
Main arguments of Marcus as a philosopher relied on his work of Meditations in which he noted down the importance of meditation as the way to handle different issues in leading as a leader. However, this book of his was never intended to publish. However, his philosophy is highly based on Stoicism. Marcus illustrates as theme of how much Stoicism is essentially journaling. This means he argued that one should always question themselves the standards that they have set for themselves and whom they aim to be (Winters, 2019). There were give different argument that Marcus set forwards in his book Meditation:
Firstly, it is noted herein Marcus Aurelius essay that he argued that the evil that men does tend to only harm someone if he/she does the same evil in response. This means that one should not be upset with the misdeeds of others and always stop themselves from reacting in a similar manner what others are doing. Secondly, he argued that fame and desires are not something to pursue and one should not care what others holds opinion for us after we are not alive. For him fame is not something that one should consider because it fades away with time (Winters, 2019). According to him he follows Stoic believes that doing well to others is the most important role of human being.
Thirdly, Marcus argues in his philosophy about the eternal changing nature of the universe that is revolving in its own way. In this philosophy of his he stated that death is inevitable and nobody is seen to lose more or less by the time they die. Everyone is going to reach that eternal death one day. Fourthly, it is argued that problems we face in our lives is due to our mind. This means that the perception that is held in mind is the real source of unhappiness one experiences in the life or from an event. The control of mind is in the hands of people and one can attain peace easily if they wipe away the upsetting thoughts. Fifthly, Marcus as a great stoic argued that kindness is better and manlier of a human than showing anger. Thus, the information provided in the Marcus Aurelius essay illustrates that one should not waste time in showing anger and arguing what is good, instead they should be one. Lastly, Marcus argued that mind is the greatest asset one has because mankind is superior and powerful to animals only with the differences in their mind (Hutcheson, 2012). Rational mind of the humans has complete power on the opinions they make.
In relation to Stoicism philosophy outlined in the Marcus Aurelius essay it is seen that Marcus argued about the control that one has on their own self. According to him one should always consider the philosophy of stoicism in which one can only control them based on their emotions, thoughts and actions they have in life. His philosophy and argument relies effectively on the beliefs of Gandhi, who believed that you should always be responsible to bring the change in the world that they wish to see themselves. This shows that the overall argument of Marcus presented in the Marcus Aurelius essay relies on the fact that one has huge power on their mind and on themselves and with that power they always has the ability to bring changes they want to see in the world (Robertson, 2020). Moreover, meditation is one of the most effective ways to attain that power and control over the mind.
For Marcus the happiness and wellbeing of the human is dependent directly upon on their own judgments. There are instances when one judge that the wealth and social standing is valuable and for attaining that one should go against others. Thus, it is stated in the Marcus Aurelius essay that this is the false judgment that creates further problems in the life of a person. Similarly, it is the control one has on them is the major reason for their happiness (Hutcheson, 2012). Moreover, most of his argument is based on toleration that one should have in a situation.
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Philosophy
The philosophy of the great Stoicism, Marcus has various strengths and weaknesses and his believe on tolerance and positive judgement. One of the biggest strength of the philosophy that Marcus believed is that it helps others to become an exceptional leader. Through the philosophy of Marcus one will be able to gain various kinds of leadership qualities in them such as understanding team work and importance of maintaining harmony. Moreover, with his philosophy one can be more mindful towards humanity and mistakes are always the result of ignorance. This means that the philosophy of Marcus helps a person to be more tolerance towards situation.
Secondly, it is seen in this Marcus Aurelius essay that the philosophy of Marcus helps in realizing the importance of modest behavior and one should be modest with the help of their own beliefs. Thus, the philosophy that the stoic leader stated will help in contributing effectively on the development of virtue within a rational adult. However, this development will be done by avoiding coercion. In addition to this, his philosophy will also make a person realize of the idea of virtue in a human that is human interaction and social responsibility. One is able to handle different situation in the most possible and effective way. The stoicism philosophy will also has the strength of developing the notion of control in a person where they can develop control in a situation and avoid taking sudden or aggressive reactions. Further, in this Marcus Aurelius essay, the philosophy has the strength of developing social interaction with a good level of tolerance within a person and help in attaining tranquility and peace in life rather than engaging in conflict (Hutcheson, 2012). This shows that the philosophy stated by Marcus allow a person to become a better human-being.
In addition to strengths, the philosophy also has various weaknesses that lead to issues that Marcus has not discussed of. Marcus did not practice the philosophy of tolerance he described and failed to state that stoic tolerance is highly dependent on social standing. He failed to consider the social environment in which a person needs to keep tolerant behavior that might prove to create adverse consequences sometimes. Secondly, the issue with the thinking of Marcus is that it failed to take into consideration the consequences of the behavior of tolerance and control on others. It fails to consider and analyzing the future outcomes of tolerance behavior and the major attention was given only on the journey of learning from one’s own mistakes (Business Insider, 2020). Thirdly, it is considered herein Marcus Aurelius essay that if companies always considered Stoic virtue that they will be replaced soon by others then the organization would have always focused on maximizes their profits and avoid investing in research and development and conduct future growth strategy. This showed that the notion of thinking that one will always replace by others and therefore one should not think of gaining fame for future (Winters, 2019). This virtue does not work in real workplace scenario over time and will never help coming up with a positive solution. Moreover, it is seen that the stoicism philosophy is hard to practice and impossible to apply in real life.
There is also problem with stoic on personal front that is it is related to the thought of a person and not their behavior. This is because human being are never perfect and they believe that their value will be hampered if they are too much modest in a situation. Moreover, stoicism support determinism and this is a problem because in such situation outside forces or human influence is seen to affect the behavior of a person (Winters, 2019). This means that calmness thought by the philosopher is highly contagious in a number of ways and does not always reap positive outcome.
Managers Learn from Philosopher of Marcus Aurelius
The stoicism philosophy stated by Marcus can be applied in company situation and managers can learn effectively from his philosophy. The stoicism allows the managers to know the ways the can develop restraint, compassion and humility in the organizational environment. This means that looking at the situation of the team or in conflict situation managers will learn to be tolerant and be compassion and modest towards others. The philosophy of Marcus has four important pillars such as wisdom, courage, temperance and justice. Thus, based on these pillars the managers now will be able to handle difference business situations with courage. Moreover, the managers will now be able to think in a manner and take decision that can provide justice to the employees or their team members (Robertson, 2020). This means that from the stoicism philosophy the managers will be able to become more calm, resilient and emotionally stable in their decision making, especially in the phase of ups and down and change.
In addition to this point stated in the Marcus Aurelius essay, managers of technological companies will benefit from stoicism as it helps them to become resilient and teaches them the philosophy of accepting the chance in both bad and good times. Moreover, it makes the managers to learn that their decision making should not be led by emotions because from stoic view they should be able to show and embrace courage and act with wisdom (Brummer, 2018). This shows that the managers would be able to handle different situation in their work with better tolerance and patience than even before.
In the conclusion section of Marcus Aurelius essay, it can be stated that the philosophy of Marcus is seen to be circular in nature in which there is various arguments that can either be positive and true to mankind or creative negative outcomes. However, with courage and justice one is able to handle their failure in a better way and be able to push to their obstacles in life and in business. This information provided in the Marcus Aurelius essay means that Marcus was right in many circumstances and do lead to positive outcomes for the managers that can help them to manage business better in future. This is because his philosophy has helped in gaining rational understanding of the world and the way one lives.
Brummer, S. (2018). Marcus Aurelius: Living philosophy and the business of governing an Empire (Doctoral dissertation, Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University).
Business Insider. (2020). Marcus Aurelius' 10 Rules For Being An Exceptional Leader. Retrieved 18 May 2020, from https://www.businessinsider.in/strategy/marcus-aurelius-10-rules-for-being-an-exceptional-leader/articleshow/42052078.cms
Hutcheson, F. (2012). The Meditations of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. Marcus Aurelius essay Liberty Fund.
Robertson, D. J. (2020). The Greatest Stoic Argued That Kindness Is More Manly Than Ange. Retrieved 18 May 2020, from https://forge.medium.com/what-marcus-aurelius-said-about-manliness-9356f2b63c19
Winters, R. (2019). The Philosopher-King of Ancient Rome: Marcus Aurelius' Imperium.