That which Epicurus could promise his friend, this I promise you, Lucilius. I shall find favour among later generations; I can take with me names that will endure as long as mine [habebo apud posteros gratiam, possum mecum duratura nomina educere.] --Seneca, Letter XXI
Seneca reveals that he writes for two (possibly three) audiences: his official addressee and 'student,' Lucilius, and posteriority. (The third audience is composed of his contemporaries who may read the letters addressed to Lucilius.) It follows from this remark that Seneca understands his letters not only as particular advice to a particular person, but also -- for lack of a better word -- as exemplary. This is one reason why in my series on Seneca's Letters, I have been paying attention to the different personalities and character types encountered along the way. Seneca teaches how to teach and reach different souls at once. Let me give an example of this last point.
Regular readers may recall that this is not the first Letter in which Seneca reveals that he is "doing business with later generations" [posterorum negotium ago] [that's from Letter 8, recall]. So this is at least the second explicit reminder of one of the points of the second Letter: he is writing in order to generate an enduring text. By repeating the point he allows that careless readers catch it. That I do so, too, is a reminder that my daily digressions are meant to entertain and instruct multiple audiences.
To more careful readers Seneca also reveals something about his self-understanding: not all fame is enduring, but all fame is a kind of magnet (I almost wrote 'reference magnet' but decided that has become a technical term) that brings other people and material into its orbit. From that vantage point, for example, the enduring Rawls is fairly generous (he names lots of folk in Theory of Justice [such that the omissions almost become more revealing [recall]]).
But enduring fame in philosophy is not just about name recognition, Seneca claims. The philosopher must also live honorably [honeste esse vivendum]. This is no easy matter, as enduring reflection on Seneca's life has revealed. In fact, in the previous letter, Seneca had distinguished between being a true teacher and being a true philosopher, and identified himself (or so I argued) with the former not the latter. He is only a partial exemplar of the philosophical life. As Thoreau puts it to be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.
Professional philosophers that teach in universities often express the thought that what we do should not be confused with the art of living; we are better at subtle distinctions (which even Thoreau grants is part of philosophy). It is, after all, true that the standards for tenure and for research excellence are only loosely connected with the kind of lived integrity we find in the lives of, say, Wollstonecraft or Spinoza. (To say this is not to ignore their blemishes.)
But it does not follow that the love of wisdom is irrelevant in the stories we hand down about our analytical teachers; I have been, in fact, amazed how often the stories that I was told about older generations did not emphasize intellectual doctrines but rather focused on questions of character: at Chicago I heard multiple stories about Carnap's social conscience; Dummett's generosity toward refugees (which he also defended intellectually) may well endure long after his theory of truth; Russell's courageous pacifism may well be remembered long after analytical philosophy is forgotten; Stebbing's heroic public integrity and private generosity toward refugees will be rediscovered by generations looking for a philosophical exemplar of virtue (cf. Heidegger). These stories suggest that even analytical philosophers -- who always self-identified in opposition to purportedly irresponsible philosophical projects -- believe there is more to the philosophical life than puzzle-solving and clarifying concepts.
So, even those of us that teach in universities can point the way toward the road of true philosophy, as teachers, without either publishing in it or being ourselves true philosophers. How to do this without sounding peevish or moralistic is no easy matter. We teach not just by our writings, our class personae, but also in our moments of exemplary behavior. If our students inside and outside the classroom find their ways onto such a path, then this may generate the conditions for a worthy, enduring fame.
Seneca, of course, is not allowed to promise something the delivery of which he cannot ensure even if we recognize that by so promising it, he makes it more likely that the desired outcome occurs. History favors such bravura.