Seneca on Learning

Posted on Jun 22, 2022

I recently finished a collection of Seneca’s letters, in which there were a few lovely insights1. I found this one particularly relatable. As someone with ADHD I am particularly prone to rapidly flitting between subjects, but I am sure every developer has gone through stages in their growth when they just want to know everything all at once.

I’m going to tell you how this enthusiasm for learning, with which I can see you’re on fire, is to be brought under control if it isn’t going to stand in its own way. What is wanted is neither haphazard dipping nor a greedy onslaught on knowledge in the mass. The whole will be reached through is parts, and the burden must be adjusted to our strength. We mustn’t take on more than we can manage. You shouldn’t attempt to absorb all you want to - just what you’ve room for; simply adopt the right approach and you will end up with room for all you want. The more the mind takes in the more it expands.

Letter CVIII, Seneca

  1. What I always find interesting reading classical literature is the sense that we, as humans, really haven’t changed much over the ages. ↩︎