[T]here is something amorous—but also something fatal—about all education. We learn nothing from those who say: ‘Do as I do’. Our only teachers are those who tell us to ‘do with me’... (Deleuze Difference and Repitition, 26).
I beg you to consider those Stoics who, shut out from public life, have withdrawn into privacy for the purpose of improving men's existence and framing laws for the human race without incurring the displeasure of those in power [et humano generi iura condenda sine ulla potentioris offensa]. The wise man will not upset the customs of the people, nor will he invite the attention of the populace by any novel ways of living.--Seneca, Letter 14.
Letter fourteen is the first in which Seneca explicitly allows his school (and, thus, his teachings) to have some political orientation (recall my treatment of Letter 4 and also of Letter 7). In particular, here he relies on a (tacit) distinction between ideal and, let's say, second-best and worse ("Evil can never grow so strong, and nobility of character can never be so plotted against") circumstances. In second-best circumstances, it is a noble calling to articulate a political philosophy for a better world. In this letter he offers no hints about (i) what the content of such a philosophy would be; (ii) nor does he explain the character of training required for being a legislator of the future--in particular, it's not at all clear that the course of emendation for Lucilius is appropriate for rule of or legislation over the people [populum] (or neither); (iii) nor does he explain how one would get to the ideal circumstances; (iv) nor does he explain how bad circumstances have to become before withdrawal itself may seem intolerable. He seems more concerned to keep his pupil, and perhaps future legislator, out of trouble.
More crucially, by granting that Stoicism has at least one eye on the future well-being of the polity, Seneca opens the door on having to articulate the nature of the complicated relationship between his two fundamental axiologies [recall (i) the axiological framework that governs the values established in the market (recall Letter 1; Letter 2) and politics (Letter 3), that is, uncertain popular opinion: (ii) the other axiological framework of enduring truth to be found in friendship and philosophy] not just within a single philosophical life (recall Letter 5), but also within a series of interconnected doctrines and practices. How Seneca can be a true teacher in Deleuze's sense is unclear, but we're still at the start of his course.
As the passage quoted at the top of this post suggests, Seneca clearly thinks that a Stoic sage ought to be able to blend in, as it were, and not draw attention to herself. This, too, is criticism of Cato, who relentlessly called attention to himself.
To be a hero for false causes is a higher kind of foolishness. That's the vantage point for Seneca's unheroic advice: "the wise man will never provoke the anger of those in power." Crucially, this means that philosophy should also not seek popular acclaim; it "minds her own business" quietly dreaming up a better world when all the good paths are closed off--undoubtedly there is autobiography in Seneca's remarks. Even so, this is not fatalism because Seneca is confident that circumstances are never really stable.
Seneca's point is wise, but sometimes the fool is wiser.
After criticizing his fellow Stoic, Cato, Seneca ends his letter with his usual gift--a maxim ("He who needs riches least, enjoys riches most,") and yet again one from Epicurus' school. There are no exclusive property rights in wisdom, but it makes friends with all that seek--philosophy is not a place for party-lines.
*This political judgment is on display when Seneca remarks: "Our wise man does the same he shuns a strong man who may be injurious to him, making a point of not seeming to avoid him, because an important part of one's safety lies in not seeking safety openly; for what one avoids, one condemns" [quia quae quis fugit damnat.]