ABSTRACT: Viewed through a modern perspective, philosophy has its place in an academic area as a field of study that offers a theoretical support and a cultural background. Is philosophy just a way to cultivate an intellectual life? Few can make the distinction between the philosophy itself and the discourse about philosophy. In fact, it’s a matter of attention. If we take a closer look, philosophy has never tried to be an amount of knowledge, but an invitation to a self-reflection. The philosophers took it as an essential act, because it gives the opportunity to self-interrogation regarding our knowledge, our needs, our way of thinking and acting. We find this request mostly in ancient philosophy. The suggestion of an examined life starts with Socrates, but is more explicit in Stoicism. Their idea was not a naive one. We are constantly caught in our familiar routine. Due to that and the lack of time, we are losing the privilege of knowing ourselves. If so, every activity concerning the “care of the self” had the purpose to achieve an authentic way of living. By returning to the late Stoic texts, we discover this universal imperative, i.e. the care of the self, through which we obtain autonomy and a good self-control in front of our daily challenges. Furthermore, this self-examination involves also a spiritual conversion of one’s way of living. As a matter of fact, the mark of a philosophical life is that it follows a series of spiritual exercises. Therefore, we can’t help asking ourselves: can we still rely on ancient philosophy when it comes to solve our quotidian problems? The aim of this paper is to illustrate the meaning and the function of the “care of the self” in its philosophical context, not forgetting that this Stoic precept had a strong contribution to the evolution of European culture.
KEYWORDS: Care of the self, conversion, spiritual exercises, authentic way of living, Stoic philosophy.