From Book Seven of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations:

  1. Everything has to do what it was made for. And other things were made for those with logos. In this respect as in others: lower things exist for the sake of higher ones, and higher ones for the sake of each other.

To my understanding, this line is stating that within the sort of hierarchy of beings, things capable of logic are higher than those who are not. However, I fail to understand what he means by "for the sake of." Does he mean that things incapable of logic exist to serve those who are, or are so-called "lower things" ultimately sacrificed or discarded for "higher ones?"

Depending on the answer to the first question, how does this line relate to other Stoic ideals and principles? In this I am asking whether it contradicts or complements other similar statements of Aurelius and other Stoics.

1 Answer 1


Things that can not reason -- such as trees or chairs, or coins -- exist in order that they may be useful to those who can reason. This could involve sacrifice, or service, or being discarded. Reasonable beings exist to live in harmony.

This is in accord with Stoicism's belief that "virtue is the only good," since only reasonable beings can be virtuous. (A rock can not be good or evil, it's just a rock.) External things are adiaphora -- neither good nor evil, just tools.

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