Marcus Aurelius, Meditations: Book 4:40

Think always of the universe as one living creature, comprising one substance and one soul: how all is absorbed into this one consciousness; how a single impulse governs all its actions; how all things collaborate in all that happens; the very web and mesh of it all.

Commentary on Book 4:40

  1. ambrose_mnemopolous Post author

    The notion that “all things collaborate in all that happens” echoes the teachings of the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, after whom the Hippocratic Oath is named. Hippocrates taught that “all things conspire,” expressed by the dictum: “sympnoia panta.”

    This saying was further reiterated by Gottfried Leibniz, the Enlightenment philosopher who devised calculus with Isaac Newtown, and who also invented the system of binary arithmetic used in today’s electronic computers. In section 61 of his Monadology, Leibniz writes: “every body feels the effect of all that takes place in the universe, so that he who sees all might read in each what is happening everywhere, and even what has happened or shall happen, observing in the present that which is far off as well in time as in place: sympnoia panta, as Hippocrates said.”

    The notion that “every body feels the effect of all that takes place in the universe” is a central tenet of Western science; this assumption is challenged by Quantum Mechanics, but locality, causality, and determinism are otherwise at the core of Classical Mechanics.

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Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD. He was the last of the Five Good Emperors, and is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers.