PROSOCHE is ‘attention’. This ancient Greek term designates ‘diligence’, ‘soberness’, ‘mindfulness’. It is the fundamental Stoic attitude of a continuous vigilance, a persistent attentiveness and a self-consciousness which never stops. In other words, it refers to a constant tension of the spirit. However, this kind of positive alertness is in no way anxiety or disquietude. <Prosoche> is ‘attention’, but in a condition of serenity and composure, never in a state of fear and stress.
Epiktetos (Epictetus) says “the soul is like a vessel filled with water. And impressions are like a ray of light that falls upon the water. If we disturb the water, the ray will seem disturbed likewise, though in reality it is not. So, when a man is subject to vertigo, it is not the arts and virtues that are confounded, but the spirit in which they exist. And, if this comes to rest, so will they likewise”.
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (Marcus Aurelius) 11.16 uses the term <prosoche> once, in his Meditations, when reflecting on the short time we have in life. He argues that such a short time does not allow us to waste our attention with indifferent things.
Thanks to <prosoche>, a philosopher is always aware of what he does in every moment of his life, and he decides his actions fully. Therefore, a significant kind of alertness is the one we pay to things we normally would consider trivial. For instance, a philosophical attention might regard scratching our head or not. Also it might regard the way we trample on a sidewalk.