The event is beyond our control, but our judgement of response is a decision in our power. Epictetus argues that we are responsible for our own fears and anxieties if we become attached to things which are beyond our power to control. Moreover, do not ever give in to the base reflections of those who have sneered at you. We must dedicate ourselves entirely to denying the appearances of things which seem good or bad but are out of our control. When, in other passages, Marcus seems to imply that the Stoic moral attitude would be the same, whichever model of the universe one uses, and whichever physics one accepts, he is trying to demonstrate that, on all possible hypotheses, it is impossible not to be a Stoic. For Stoics, the ultimate good in life is to possess wisdom, justice, and other virtues, and to act according to them. For if evil is a matter of the will, then caution is needed there; and if everything beyond the will and not in our control is immaterial to us, then those things can be approached with confidence.
Thus the book is a manual on how to make progress towards what is necessary and sufficient for happiness. But it is not my purpose now to be led into a discussion as to what is within our own control, — if foreknowledge is supreme, or if a chain of fated events drags us along in its clutches, or if the sudden and the unexpected play the tyrant over us; I return now to my warning and my exhortation, that you should not allow the impulse of your spirit to weaken and grow cold. You are responsible for your own opinions, thoughts, and feelings. Epictetus is not his proper name: épiktétos meant, in Greek, slave, servant. Ultimately, one is only responsible for the judgments one makes.
It concludes: In the same way, my child, you can apply these basic models to everything else that comes down through mythology concerning those considered to be gods, in the conviction that the ancients were far from mediocre, but were capable of understanding the nature of the cosmos and ready to express their philosophy in symbols and enigmas. Keeping this in mind, treat your critics with compassion. Do impede your sanity by maintaining great attachments to people or objects. What will happen if you keep them straight? Irrational beings do not have the capacity to use impressions in a reflective manner, but rational behavior is guided by the faculty of choice. Great outcomes demand great commitment to process. What is up to us and not, and how to deal with external things.
Truth lies open for all; it has not yet been monopolized. Adversity gives us the opportunity to exercise virtue, and handled well therefore every misfortune turns into good fortune, for the wise. What matters is whether they, and other Stoics, would have accepted that someone else could potentially be both an agnostic or atheist and a Stoic. Martin Luther King, and Henry David Thoreau. His teachings stress above all that we should accept unconditionally anything that is outside of our sphere of control. This is the default psychological state for humans.
Sometimes the solution may not be material, but psychic, and this is fine. How do I answer them? Of what avail is philosophy, if God rules the universe? In Enchiridion, there are 52 ideas that we can apply to life. We can see it as something scary, and we will, anguished by this idea, ruin our whole life, but we can also see it as the normal end of a natural cycle, or a rest that relieves the suffering of old age, and thus give him a positive value. Discourses, 4 In another passage he employs a similar metaphor, equating the role of the bull with that of the queen bee: But what have you to do with the concerns of others? Moreover, several ancient Stoics appear to have questioned the importance of belief in God, at least to some extent. Nothing in this life is ours to keep.
It is not things that upset us, but our judgements about those things. Lameness is an impediment for the legs, but not the will. These guides served as a rule and guide for monastic life. Wisdom and moral understanding may include the capacity to adapt ourselves to various situations which are not within our power to change, but folly or ignorance may consist of the refusal or lack of capacity to adapt ourselves to situations which are not within our power to change. Finally it is serious and austere. Remember how wisely you understand when others face unfortunate situations.
What would he have done in the absence of such challenges? Notes on Epictetus Handbook Higginson Translation Notes on Epictetus' Handbook Keyed to Contact: Last revised date: September 9, 2003 Summary: Some things are in our power and choiceworthy: these include but are not limited to correct valuations, clear thinking, right choices, right aims, good character traits. Say this to yourself with regard to everything that happens, then you will see such obstacles. There is much wisdom within the pages of Enchiridion, and though I understand many of his ideas, some of them are difficult to take even though it would make life easier. In the English-speaking world it was particularly well-known in the 17th-century: at that time it was the Enchiridion rather than the Discourses which was usually read. In doing this, and all of these standards of living, you may one day die, but you will never truly be harmed.
It was not sufficient for his students to sit in his class and put pen to paper. They were all late Roman Stoics and we have only fragments from the early Greek Stoics, including the founders of the school. If we are to attain wisdom, then we must be able to correctly distinguish between those situations which are within our power to change and those situations which are not within our power to change. Sacrifice pursuits that might consume you in favor of working on your own character and doing virtuous things. According to Epictetus, we may not be able to control the actions of others in many situations, but we may still be able to control our own actions in the same situations. He compares it to the weaver, who does not make the wool, but makes the best use of the wool he is given. It is better by assenting to truth to conquer opinion, than by assenting to opinion to be conquered by truth.
When you lose your job, when you lose a loved one, when your health deteriorates, when you fall short of your goal. Moreover, he marvelled at their blindness in not seeing that man cannot solve these riddles; since even the most conceited talkers on these problems did not agree in their theories, but behaved to one another like madmen. I would add that the Stoics perhaps viewed them as comparable to the primitive feelings experienced by other animals, as a sort of reflex-like antecedent of full-blown human emotion. Professor Michael Sugrue discusses this aspect of The Meditations in on Marcus Aurelius. Overall, I would say that the literature of ancient Stoicism suggests that Marcus Aurelius and perhaps also Epictetus believed that agnosticism or even atheism may have been consistent with the Stoic way of life.
Eschewing metaphysics, Arrian focused his attention on Epictetus's work applying philosophy in daily life. What you avoid suffering, do not attempt to make others suffer. An editor will review the submission and either publish your submission or provide feedback. Therefore when some terrifying sound, either from heaven or from a falling building or as a sudden announcement of some danger, or anything else of that kind occurs, even the mind of a wise man must necessarily be disturbed, must shrink and feel alarm, not from a preconceived idea of any danger, but from certain swift and unexpected attacks which forestall the power of the mind and of reason. It is better to do wrong seldom and to own it, and to act right for the most part, than seldom to admit that you have done wrong and to do wrong often. Although you may offer outward sympathy and support, do not let such events effect you internally. For Epictetus, reason is a moral capacity or power to use impressions correctly.