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In the introduction to a collection of Cicero's essays, Michael Grant said of the Romans, “philosophy was regarded as a strictly practical study–something which, if approached in the right way, was perfectly capable of guiding and improving people's lives.”

Philosophy is practical? It's an idea that scarcely appears in today's cultural landscape. Yet I think the Romans were right, as long as the term “practical” is understood in its large sense. Pursuing practical studies is not just a way to make money and acquire fame and power; it is a way to the good life, a way to learn how to live.