Epictetus: Discourses, Fragments, Handbook (Oxford)

The Mind Map

Intro:

His Life

Characteristics

Technique 

Content:

Human Nature

1 On human capacities

2 Reason

3 Impressions

What is in your power and what not  

1.Things that are within my power 

1.1 These are thoughts a philosopher must have 

1.2 The unit of measurement for an act 

1.2a Consists of Judgment and opinion 

1.3 Present impression 

1.4 Consider what comes before and what comes after, then Action 

1.5 Have a pure mind 

1.6 How to deal? Accept everything with contentment 

1.7 Why suffer from something that is not in your power 

1.8 How?

1.8a Value the right things 

1.8b Making use of whatever falls over you 

1.8c Put confidence in things that lie within the sphere of choice

1.9 Choice 

1.9a Free yourself with it 

1.9b The Good is in choice 

1.9c Good and bad therefore are within us 

1.9d The exercise of Good is in the right choice 

1.10 However people are inconsistent on what they think is right and wrong 

1.10a Why?

1.10b Consequence 

1.10c How to deal with it 

1.11 How to not be like that 

1.11a Behavior to action must have a criterion to distinguish

1.11b Habit is the key 

1.11c Example of habit in work.

1.11d Create new habits 

1.11e A bad habit 

2 things we think are not in our power

2.1 Body

2.1a Do not be a slave of your body

2.2 Possessions 

2.2a Because of fear and desire 

2.3 What chains do you put in yourself

2.3a Dispense your master

2.3b Who is your master 

2.3c The creator of circumstances 

2.3d How you should deal with him 

3 things that are not within my power 

3.1 Have caution 

3.2 Accept the cause of nature with gratitude 

3.3 God 

3.4 Watches over all of us

3.5 God created us to interpreted and observe his creations

3.6 Circumstances are created by God to make you better 

3.7 Therefore Don’t seek for what is good outside yourself 

3.8 Anything that is reasonable can be endured 

3.9 Need an education for that 

3.10 Being a student 

3.10a Your material is the mind 

3.10b Prepare yourself for learning lessons

3.10c First step in philosophy

3.10d Train

3.10e Consciousness of our own weakness with regard to essential matters

3.10f Recognize different opinions and determine a standard 

3.10f  1 Standard 

3.10f 2 Create a standard 

3.10g Once you have learned don’t show yourself 

3.2h Cause is also the effect 

3.10i How to ask a philosopher

3.2 When you approach any of these great men, keep this in mind, that you’re meeting a figure from tragedy, and no mere actor either 

3.2a Misfortune 

3.2b Don’t be a coward 

3.2c Accept the circumstances and play as the best actor within this misfortune play 

3.2d Make good use out of misfortune 

3.2e Death

3.2f Do not fear death 

3.2g Accept it 

3.2h Cause is also the effect 

3.2i Just have caution 

On a good life 

To pass our lives without suffering any hindrance in our desires and aversions 

1 On being free 

1.1 Lives as he wishes 

1.2 On being, therefore, free form fear 

2 On happiness

2.1 Renounce everything that lies outside the sphere of choice  

Relationships 

1 Family 

1a The inevitable attachment to family

1b Put others illness as yours 

1c Put reasoning in your family affection 

1d Put a land and you’ll see what affection you have received 

2 True friends 

2a Ruling center 

2b How to advise 

2c On madness 

Untitled-13.pngpictetusfinnnal.png
 

Life

Epictetus was born in Hierapolis in Phrygia (Asia Minor) around 50 ce. and sent to Rome as a slave while still young. His master was a Greek freedman, Epaphroditus, who served at Neros court. Epictectus studied philosophy with Muscius Rutus, was eventually freed, and then was expelled from Rome by Domitian along with other teachers of philosophy. He set up a school in Nicopolis, in north-west Greece, where he taught until his death early in the 2nd-century ce. He lectured on technical topics in Stoicism but also delivered more accessible public lectures which form the basis of the Discourses reported by his student Arrian. (Stoicism a very short introduction p. 4)

Epictetus (...) was born a slave in Hierapolis (modern Antolia), and was owned for a while by Epaphroditus, powerful freedom (ex-slave) at the court of Nero in Rome. He studied with the Stoic teacher Musonius Rufus and taught philosophy in Rome. When banished (...) by the emperor Domitian, he set up a school in Necropolis in Greece on the Adriatic coast and taught there until his death. He did not marry but adopted an infant child late in life. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.0)

Epictetus, unlike the other two thinkers, was a formal stoic teacher. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.Vii)

It seems that Epictetus (...) wrote nothing. These works constitute records of his teaching preserved by Arrion. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.viii)

The simple language and forceful directness of style are very different from Arran’s own writings, and so we may indeed be hearing something very close to Epictetus's own voice. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p. ix)

Characteristics

Epictetus himself was lame in one leg, allegedly because of mistreatment by his master. (Stoicism a very short introduction p. 8)

Epictetus describes himself at one point as a lame old man; his lameness may have been the result of old age. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.viii)

Technique 

He combines general, expository statements with vividly realized imagined dialogue, especially in bringing out the implications for practical ethics. In terms that Epictetus himself sometimes uses, he combines a doctrinal mode with proteolytic and elements (refuting) modes, the latter two sometimes fused with each other. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.xxii)

Arrian to Lucius: those who read them should understand that when Epictetus himself was speaking, the listener was compelled to feel just what Epictetus wanted him to feel. If the words on their own, however, do not accomplish that effect, it may be that I am to blame, or perhaps it could hardly be otherwise Farewell. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.xxii)

Come now, if I could be counted as a philosopher, would you need to become lame like me? (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.22)

Human Nature 

For such is human nature, we cannot bear to be deprived of the good, and cannot bear to fall into what is bad. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.58)

Three things that makeup humans beings; mind, body, and external things. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.157)

Merely to fulfill the role of a human being is no simple matter. For what is a human being?’A rational and mortal creature’. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.87)

Now, all other animals have been excluded from being able to understand the divine governing order, but the rational animal possesses resources that enable him to reflect on all these things, and know that he is a part of them, and what kind of part, and that it is well for the parts to yield to the whole. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.254)

Take care that you never act like a sheep or else in that way, too, you will have destroyed what human in you. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.88)

1 On human capacities 

For neither do we know who we are nor have we studied what it means to be human in the same way as horsemen study everything that relates to horses. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.82)

Epictetus emphases. One is our capacity for rational agency, and a second our capacity for ethical (especially social) development; a third is an idea that these capacities from key distinctive features of human nature within the framework of the divinely shaped universe. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.xii)

For logical and persuasive reasoning can exercise a powerful effect, especially if they’re developed through training and are lent further plausibility through the skillful use of language. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.21)

2 Reason 

Suppose I tell him to write ‘Dion’, and the teacher comes along and sets him not that name, but ‘Theon’, what will come of it? What is he to write? But if you’ve studied how to write, you’ll be ready for everything that may be dictated to you (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.76)

If you’re writing to a friend, grammar will tell you what letters you ought to choose, but as to whether or not you ought to write to your friend, grammar won’t tell you that. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.4)

The faculty that takes both itself and everything else as an object of study. And what is that? The faculty of reason. For that alone of all the faculties that we’ve been granted is capable of understanding both itself - what it is, what it is capable of, and what value it contributes - and all the other faculties too. (...) Faculty that has the capacity to deal with impressions. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.4)

For that reason, it can’t take itself as an object of examination. Well then, why is it that we have received reason from nature? To be able to make use of impressions as we ought. And what is reason itself? A collection of impressions of various kinds. I am accordingly fitted by nature to take itself as an object of examination. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.46)

And wisdom, in turn, has been granted to us for the examination of what? Of what is good, and what is bad, and what is neither the one nor the other. What is wisdom itself, then? A good thing. And foolishness? A bad thing. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.46)

So if you want to know how little concerned you are about what is good and bad (...) consider what attitude you hold towards physical blindness on the one hand and error of mind on the other; and you’ll recognize that you’re for from having the feeling that you ought to have with regard to matters of good and evil. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.47)

3 Impressions 

The mind is rather like a bowl filled with water, and impressions are like a ray of light that falls on that water. When the water is disturbed, the ray of light gives the appearance of being disturbed, but that isn’t really the case. So accordingly, whenever someone suffers an attack of vertigo, it isn’t the arts and virtues that are thrown into confusion, but the spirit in which they’re contained; and when the spirit in which they’re contained; and when the spirit comes to rest again, so will they too. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p. 151)

Impressions come to us in four ways. Either thing are, and appear so to be; or else they are not, and do not appear to be; or else they are, and do not appear to be’ or else they are not, and yet appear to be. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.57)

What is in your power and what not  

1.Things that are within my power 

1.1 These are thoughts a philosopher must have 

These are thoughts that those who embark on philosophy ought to reflect upon; it is these that they should write about day after day, and it is in these that they should train themselves. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.6)

1.2 The unit of measurement for act 

For unless we start off by establishing what a unit of measurement is, and what balance is, how shall we ever be able to weight or measure anything? So also in the present case, if we have failed to acquire full and accurate knowledge of the standard of judgment that we apply in gaining knowledge of everything else, how are we to be able to acquire any full and accurate knowledge of those things? How could that be possible? (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.39)

1.2a Consists of Judgment and opinion 

In a word, it is neither death, nor exile, nor distress, nor anything else of that kind, that cause us to do something or not to do it, but rather our judgments and opinions. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.30)

We shouldn’t look for the motive anywhere outside ourselves, but rather accept that it is one and the same cause that moves us in every case to do something or not do it. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.29)

1.3 Present impression 

Whoever keeps this fact clearly in mind, then, that for human beings the present impression is the measure of every action - an impression that may, besides, be well or badly formed. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.60)

Whoever keeps this in mind, then will never be angry with anyone. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.60)

1.4 Consider what comes before and what comes after, then Action 

In each action that you undertake, consider what comes before and what follows after, and only then proceed to the action itself. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.171)

1.5 Have a pure mind 

So the impurity of the mind consists accordingly of bad judgments, and this purification consists in the creation within it of the judgments that it ought to have. A pure mind is thus one that makes right judgments, for that kind of mind alone can escape confusion and pollution in its acts. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.270)

1.6 How to deal? Accept everything with contentment 

Whereas in fact, if you’re living alone, you should call that peace freedom, and view yourself as being like the gods; and if you find yourself in the company of a mass of people, you should call that not a mob and a source of uproar and vexation, but rather a feast and a public festival, and so accept everything with contentment. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.32)

1.7 Why suffer from something that is not in your power 

Well then, what have they made you accountable for? Only for what lies within your power, the right use of your impressions. Why do you charge yourself, then, with things for which you’re not accountable? You’re merely creating trouble for yourself. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.33)

1.8 How?

1.8a Value the right things 

If you give these things up and count them as nothing, with whom can you still feel angry? But as long as you attach value to these things, you should be angry with yourself rather than with those people. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.42)

A modest character is preserved likewise by modest action, while shameless actions will destroy it; and a faithful character is preserved by acts of fidelity, while acts of a contrary nature will destroy it. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.88)

Only, consider at what price you’re willing to sell your power of choice. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.9)

I’m the most powerful man in the world! (...) Come now, when you’re onboard a ship, do you place confidence in yourself or in the man who has expert knowledge. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.44)

But I can have you beheaded’. Well said! I’d forgotten that one needs to attend to you as one attends to a fever or cholera; one should doubtless set up an altar to you just as the fever has his altar at Rome. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.44)

‘ But I’ll wear a crown of gold! - If you wish to wear a crown at all, take a crown of roses and put that on your head: you’d look much more elegant in that. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.46)

1.8b Making use of whatever falls over you 

By following the example of those who play at dice. The counters are indifferent, the dice indifferent. How can I know in what way the throw will fall? But to be attentive and skillful in making use of whatever does fall, that is now my task. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.78)

1.8c Put confidence in things that lie within the sphere of choice 

You should be confident with regard to things that lie outside the sphere of choice and exercise caution with regard to those that lie within it. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.73)

1.9 Choice 

What the human good is? I can offer you no other reply than to say that it lies in a certain quality of choice. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.22)

1.9a Free yourself with it 

‘This is what I find in the sacrifice’, says the diviner, ‘ These are the signs that have been sent to you. If you wish it, you are free; if you wish it, you’ll find fault with no one, you’ll cast blame on no one, and everything that comes about will do so in accordance with your own will and that of god. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.41)

You’re the one who knows yourself, and knows what value you set on yourself, and at what price you’ll see yourself; for different people sell themselves at different prices. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.7)

1.9b The Good is in choice 

The essence of the good is a certain disposition of our choice, and that of the bad likewise. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.62)

Where does the good lie? “In choice”. Where does the bad lies? “In choice”. And that which is neither good nor bad?” In things that lie outside the sphere of choice!” (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.105)

Choose to whom you give your attention ⁴⁷ 

When children come to us clapping their hands and saying, ‘Today’s the Naturalism rejoice!, Do we reply to them, ‘There’s nothing to rejoice at in that’? Of course not, we clap in return. (...) When you’re unable to make someone change his views, recognize that he is a child, and clap as he does. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.65)

1.9c Good and bad therefore are within us 

The good and bad are in ourselves, and not in external things. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.177)

1.9d The exercise of Good is in the right choice 

‘ Tell me further, what were the things that you regard as being “goods”?’-’ The right exercise of choice and right use of impressions’. (...) ‘ and do you say the same on the present occasion too?’- ‘Yes, I say the same even now.’ (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.69)

1.10 However people are inconsistent on what they think is right and wrong 

For that is the cause of all human ills, that people aren’t able to apply their general preconceptions to particular cases. No, but one person thinks in one way, and another person in another. This person imagines that he is ill. Not at all, it is merely that he is applying his preconceptions wrongly. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p. 220)

The principal reason is that people are inconsistent and confused in their ideas about matters of good and evil. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.125)

1.10a Why?

“ The right is nothing at all, or at most, is what is valued in the common opinion.’

But if I place myself in one scale, and what is right in the other, the saying of Epiciris then acquires full strength when he declares that “ the right is nothing at all, or at most, is what is valued in the common opinion.’. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.130)

1.10b Consequence 

Fear, envy, disturbance, and change 

And so at one time you think them good, and at another time you think the same things to be bad, and then at another to be neither good nor bad; and in short, you find yourself exposed to distress, fear, envy, disturbance, and change. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p128)

Anxiety 

Someone who is pale from anxiety ‘ Shift from leg to leg and squat on one foot and then the other. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.99)

Other causes: 

Where/how you put your attention at. Uncertainly 

That he doesn’t know that he wants things that he’s not allowed to have, and doesn’t want things that he’s bound to have, and doesn’t know, moreover, what rightly belongs to him or what belongs to others. For if he knew that he’d never feel hindered, and never feel constrained, and wouldn’t fall prey to anxiety. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.98)

When I see someone in a state of anxiety. ‘ What is that he wants?’ That is why a lyre-player feels no anxiety when singing on his own, but because anxious when he enters the theatre (...) For he wants not only to sing well, but also to win the approval of his audience, and that is something that lies beyond his control. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.97)

1.10c How to deal with it 

We look with pleasure at herds of horses and cattle, and are delighted to see a large fleet of ships, so is one to be distressed to see a crowd of people. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.242)

But they ate me with their shouting!’ Then it your hearing that is impeded. What does that matter to you? Is your ability to deal with impressions hampered in the same way? (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.242)

Just remember this general principle: ‘ What is mine, what isn’t mine? What is granted to me? What does God want me to do now, and what doesn’t he want. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p. 242)

1.11 How to not be like that 

1.11a Behavior to action must have a criterion to distinguish 

What you must show me, then, is how your behavior is in accordance with nature. - ‘I can’t’, the man replied, ‘but rather, you should show me how it isn’t in accordance with nature. - ‘ I can’t, the man replied, ‘but rather, you should show me how it isn’t in accordance with nature. - ‘ I can’t, the man replied, ‘ but rather, you should show me how it isn’t in accordance with nature and how it isn’t right.’  - Well, suppose we were enquiring about black and white: what criterion would we call upon to distinguish between them? - Sight the man replied. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.27)

1.11b Habit is the key 

If you want to do something, make a habit of doing it. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.114)

1.11c Example of habit in work.

If you don’t want to be bad-tempered, then don’t feed the habit, throw nothing before it on which it can feed and grow. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.115)

1.11d Create new habits 

And you too should introduce new habits in place of your old ones: fix your ideas firmly within you and exercise yourself in them. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.174)

1.11e A bad habit 

Hesiod: One who delays his work is always wrestling with ruin. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.117)

2 Things we think are not in our power

2.1 Body 

Epictetus, we can no longer bear to be chained to this poor body of ours, having to give it food and drink, and provide it with rest, and keep it clean, and then having to associate with all manner of people of it. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.23)

This poor body of mine is nothing to me. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.183)

2.1a Do not be a slave of your body 

For when the tyrant says to someone, I’ll have your leg shackled”, one who attaches value to his legs will reply, “No, have pity on me”, while one who attaches value, by contrast, to his choice will say, “ If you think that will do you any good, chain it up”- “you don’t care?” -Not in the least.- I’ll show you that I’m master’- How will you do that? Zeus has set me free. Do you really suppose that he would allow his own son to be turned into a slave? You’re the master of my carcass, fake that. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.44)

2.2 Possessions 

Whenever you become attached to anything, don’t become attached as though it were something that cannot be taken away, but rather as though it were something like an earthenware pot or crystal goblet so that if it should get broken, you’ll remember what kind of thing it was and not get unholy upset. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p207)

2.2a Because of fear and desire 

We think of ourselves as being mere bodies, entrails and sexual organs, because we give way to our fears and desires; and we flatter those who might be able to help us in this regard while fearing those same people. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.25)

‘Do please grant us the copse of this man and a pint of his miserable blood’; for truth, such a person is merely a corpus and a pint of blood, and nothing more. If he amounted to anything mare, he would realize that no one suffers misfortune because of the actions of another. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.25)

No one who lives in fear, then, or distress or agitation, can be free, but anyone who is released from fear, distress, and agitation is released by the very same course from slavery too. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.72)

2.3 What chains do you put in yourself

Medea: I know that what I intend to do is bad, But anger is master of my plans? Because she regards this very thing, the gratification of her anger and exacting of vengeance against her husband, as being more beneficial than keeping her child safe. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.60)

2.3a Dispense your master 

One person is not the master of another, but it is rather life and death, pleasure and pain that are his masters. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.68)

2.3b Who is your master 

Whoever has authority over anything that you’re anxious to gain or avoid. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.76)

2.3c The creator of circumstances 

For even before these human masters, we have circumstances as our masters, and there is any number of those.  Because in truth, it is not Ceaser himself whom people stand in the gear of, but death, banishment, confiscation of their property, imprisonment, loss of civil rights. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.223)

2.3d How you should deal with him 

This is a thought that you should keep at hand to apply whenever you lose only external things (...)’ ‘I’ve lost out’. You haven’t lost out if you gain a horse in place of a donkey, a fine deed in place of a bit of spare cash, a sense of shame in place of salacious talk. If you keep this point in mind, you’ll always preserve your character as it ought to be. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.238)

3 Things that are not within my power 

3.1 Have caution 

You should be confident with regard to things that lie outside the sphere of choice and exercise caution with regard to those that lie within it. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.73)

3.2 Accept the cause of nature with gratitude 

From everything that comes about in the universe one may easily find cause to praise providence if one possesses these two qualities, the capacity to view each particular event in relation to the whole, and a sense of gratitude. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.14)

3.3 God 

We’re accustomed to recognize that they’re undoubtedly the work of some maker, rather than being mere products of chance. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.15)

There are some who say that the divine doesn’t even exist, while others say that it does exist, but that it is inactive and indifferent, and exercise no providential care: while the third set of people maintain that or both exists and exercises providential care, but only with regard to important matters relating to the heavens, and in no way to affairs on earth; a fourth set declare that it does take thought for earthly and human affairs, but only in a general fashion, without showing concern for each particular individual; while a fifth set, to which both Odysseus and Socrates belonged, says, “ Not a movement of mine escapes you”. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.30)

3.4 Watches over all of us 

When the sun is able to illuminate so large a part of the universe, leaving until only that very small part that is covered by the shadow of the earth, can it really be the case that he who created the sun - which is only a small part of him by comparison with the whole - and directs it on its way, could lack the power to perceive all that exists? (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.35)

3.5 God created us to interpreted and observe his creations 

God has bought the human race into the world to be a spectator of himself and of his works, and not merely to observe them, but also interpret them. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.16)

3.6 Circumstances are created by God to make you better 

Heracles: what would have been the use of his arms and of all his strength, endurance, and nobility of mind if such circumstances and opportunities hadn’t been there to rouse him and exercise him? (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.17)

It is difficulties that reveal what men amount to; and so, whenever you’re struck by a difficulty, remember that God, like a trainer in the gymnast sum, has matched you against a tough young opponent. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.51)

3.7 Therefore Don’t seek for what is good outside yourself 

Zeus wanted me to provide proof of all of this in my own person, while he for his part wanted to know whether he has a soldier in me who is such as he ought to be, a citizen who is such as he ought to be, and wants to present me to everyone else as one who can provide witness about those things that lie outside the sphere of choice “ see that your fears have no foundation, he says, and that it is against reason that you desire what you desire. Don’t seek for what is good for you outside yourselves; seek it within you, or else you’ll never find it. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p210)

3.8 Anything that is reasonable can be endured 

Anything that is reasonable can be endured (...) Spartans will put up with a beating in the knowledge that it is a reasonable punishment. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.6)

3.9 Need an education for that 

It is for that reason above all that we have need of education, so as to be able to apply our preconception of what is reasonable and unreasonable to particular cases in accordance with nature. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.7)

3.10 Being a student 

3.10a Your material is the mind 

From this time forth, the material that I must work upon is my own mind. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.183)

3.10b Prepare yourself for learning lessons 

Should first cure you ulcers, stop the discharge of your humours, calm your mind, and bring it to school free from distraction; and then you’ll know what power reason can have! (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.127)

What is the first task for someone who is practicing philosophy? To rid himself of presumption; for it is impossible for anyone to set out to learn what he thinks he already knows. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.110)

3.10c First step in philosophy

Become aware of the conditions of one’s ruling centre 

This, then, is the first step in philosophy, to become aware of the condition of one’s ruling centre. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.57)

 

3.10d Train:

That which relates to desire and aversion

Not to fall in what should be avoided 

To act or not to act in an orderly manner and with good reason 

Avoidance of error. 

There are three areas of study in which someone who wants to be virtuous and good most be trained; that which relates to desires and aversions, so that he may neither fail to get what he desires, nor fall into what he wants to avoid; that which relates to our motives to act or not to act, and, in general, appropriate behaviour, so that he may act in an orderly manner and with good reason, rather than carelessly; and thirdly, that which relates to the avoidance of error and costly judgment, and, in general, whatever relates to assent. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p147)

After desire and aversion, the second area of study is concerned with your motives to act or not to act, so that they may be obedient to reason, and not be exercised at the wrong time, or in the wrong place, or improperly in any comparable respect. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.167)

3.10e Consciousness of our own weakness with regard to essential matters 

The point of departure in philosophy, at least for those who embark on it in the proper way and enter by the front door, is a consciousness of our own weakness and incapacity with regard to essential matters. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.92)

3.10f Recognize different opinions and determine a standard 

This is the starting point of philosophy; the recognition that different people have conflicting opinions, the rejection of mere opinion so that it comes to be viewed with mistrust, an investigation of opinion to determine whether it is rightly held, and the discovery of a standard of judgment, comparable to the balance that we have devised for the determining of weights, or the carpenter’s rule for determining whether things are straight or crooked. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.94)

3.10f  1 Standard 

Is there a higher standard than mere opinion? (...) Why don’t we seek it out, then, and discover it, and after having discovered it, put it to use without fail ever afterward. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.94)

3.10f 2 Create a standard 

Put it in scales 

Can we trust it?

Judge and weighed it 

‘Pleasure’ Submit it to the standard, put it on the scales. For something to be good, must it be something that we can properly place confidence trust in? Indeed if most. Can we properly place confidence, then, in something that is unstable? It is thus that things are judged and weighed when on has the standards at hand; and the task of philosophy lies in this, in examining and establishing those standards. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.95)

3.10g Once you have learned don’t show yourself 

But if, one fine day, you secure freedom from fear and distress (...) don’t boast about it, but demonstrate it through your actions; and even if no one notices, be content that you yourself are of sound mind and are living a happy life. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.210)

 

3.10h Never call yourself a Philosopher 

Never call yourself a philosopher, and don’t talk among laymen for the most part about philosophical principles, but act in accordance with those principles. At a banquette, for example, don’t talk about how one ought to eat, but eat as one ought. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.301)

When someone is filled with pride because he is able to understand and interpret the works of Chrysippus, say to yourself, “ If Chrysippus hadn’t written in such an obscure style, this person wouldn’t have anything to pride himself on”. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.302)

 

3.10i How to ask a philosopher.

Listen don’t ask 

When you want to know what a philosopher has to say, don’t ask, ‘Have you nothing to say to me?’, But simply show that you’re capable of listening to him, and you’ll see how you excited him to speak. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.139)

 

3.2 When you approach any of these great men, keep this in mind, that you’re meeting a figure from tragedy, and no mere actor either 

When you approach any of these great men, keep this in mind, that you’re meeting a figure from tragedy, and no mere actor either. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.52)

3.2a Misfortune 

 

3.2b Don’t be a coward 

Remember that the door stands open. Don’t be more cowardly than a young child, but just as children say, ‘I won’t play any longer’ when the game no longer amuses then, you should say likewise, when things seem that way to you, ‘ I won’t play any longer’, and so depart; but if you stay, stop moaning. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.53)

But for heaven’s sake, don’t accept a large number of blows only to give up in the end! If that is shameful, decide without further delay where the nature of good and bad is to be found, which is where truth is to be found. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.75)

3.2c Accept the circumstances and play as the best actor within this misfortune play 

Helvidius Priscus: You fulfil your role, and I’ll fulfil mine. It is yours to have me killed, and mine to die without a tremor; it is yours to send me into exile, and mine to depart without a qualm. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.8)

If god had entrusted an orphan to your care, would you have neglected him in such a fashion? Yet he has delivered you yourself into your own keeping, and say, ‘ I had no one in whom I could put more confidence than you. Keep this person as he was born by nature to be; keep him modest, trustworthy, high-minded, unshakable, free from passion, imperturbable.’ And after that, don’t you want to keep him so? (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.86)

3.2d Make good use out of misfortune 

Rufus: used to turn people away most of the time, using that as a test to distinguish the gifted from the ungifted. For he used to say, “Just a stone, even if you throw it into the air, will fall down to the earth by virtue of its own nature, so it is too with the gifted person; the more one tries to beat him off, the more he inclines towards the object to which his nature carries him. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p155)

3.2e Death  

For I am not everlasting, but a human being, a part of the whole as an hour is a part of the day. Like an hour I must come, and like an hour pass away. So what different does it make to me how I pass away, whether it be by drowning or a fever? For in some way or other, pass away I must. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.79)

3.2f Do not fear death 

Why don’t you reflect, then, that for a man the source of all evils, and of his meanness of spirit and cowardice, is not death itself, but rather the fear of death? It is to confront this that you must train yourself, and it is towards that end that end that all your reasoning, all your studies, and all your readings should be directed, and then you’ll recognize that it is in this way alone that human beings can attain freedom. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.216)

For it isn;t death or pain that is frightening, but the fear that we feel in the face of death or pain. That is why we praise the man who said, “ To die is not dreadful, but to die dishonour. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.71)

3.2g Accept it 

Once I’ve come to learn that all that comes into being must also perish so that the universe may no come to a standstill or be impeded, it no longer matters to me whether a fever brings that about, or a roof file, or an armed guard, but if a choice has to be made, I know the guard would accomplish it in a swifter and less painful manner. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.257)

3.2h Cause is also the effect 

So in each case, as the causes are, so also are the effects. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.30)

And what is pain? A bogey, turn it round and you’ll find out. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.72)

3.2i Just have caution 

It is towards, then, that our confidence should be directed, and towards the fear of death our caution. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.71)

On a good life 

To pass our lives without suffering any hindrance in our desires and aversions 

To pass our lives without suffering any hindrance in our desires and aversions. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.166)

We should neither fail to get what we desire, nor fall into what we want to avoid. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.166)

1 On being free 

1.1 Lives as he wishes  

That person is free who lives as he wishes, who can neither be constrained, nor hindered, nor compelled, whose motives are unimpeded, and who achieves his desires and doesn’t fall into what he wants to avoid. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.217)

1.2 On being, therefore, free form fear 

Well then, if someone who has no particular desire either to die or to live, but is happy to accept whatever is granted, comes into presence of the tyrant, what is to prevent him from approaching him without fear? Nothing. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.254)

2 On happiness

2.1 Renounce everything that lies outside the sphere of choice  

There is one path alone that leads to happiness - and keep this thought at hand morning, noon, and night - it is to renounce any claim to anything that lies outside the sphere of choice, to regard nothing as being your own, to surrender everything to the deity, to fortune, to consign the administration of everything to those whom Zeus himself had appointed to carry out the task, and when you read, to refer your writing and your listening. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p244)

If you’re nourished by thoughts such as these, what need do you have to enquire any longer as to where you are to find happiness, and where you will please God? Aren’t people just the same distance from God wherever they are? And wherever they are don’t they have just the same view of what is coming about. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.245)

Relationships 

1 Family 

1a The inevitable attachment to family 

When my little daughter was ill, I couldn’t bear even to be in the room with her during her illness, but fled and stayed away until someone told me that she was well again. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p. 27)

1b Put others illness as yours 

Tell me now, if it had been you who were ill, would you have wanted all your relations, down even to your children and wife, to prove their affection by leaving you all on your own and deserted’. In no way’. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.29)

1c Put reasoning in your family affection 

So it follows that wherever we find family affection accompanied by reason we can confidently declare it to be right and good? (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.28)

1d Put a land and you’ll see what affection you have received 

Haven’t you often seen little dogs fawning on one another and playing together, which prompts one to exclaim, “Nothing could be more friendly’? But to see what that friendship amount to, throw a bit of meat between them, and you’ll know. And likewise, if you throw a small bit of land between yourself and your son, you’ll know how impatient your son is to see you buried. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p. 128)

2 True friends  

If you hear, on the other hand, that these men truly believe that the good lies nowhere else than in choice, and in the right use of impressions. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.131)

Even if that is the only thing that you know about them, you can confidently declare that they’re friends, and likewise that they’re faithful and just. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.131)

2a Ruling centre 

Don’t be too quick to pronounce on their friendship, even if they swear to it, even if they declare that it is impossible that they should ever be parted. For the ruling centre of a bad man can’t be trusted; it is unstable, and unsure in its judgements, falling under the power of one impression after another. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.130)

2b How to advise 

Unless a doctor can be thought to be insulting a patient when he says to him, “ You think there is nothing wrong with you, my friend, but you have fever. Eat nothing today, and drink water alone” No one would think lit to cry out here, “What insufferable impertinence!” Yet if you say to somebody, “ Your desires are inflamed, your aversions are low, your purpose are inconsistent, your motives are out of harmony with nature, your opinions are ill considered and mistaken, ‘he immediately walks out, exclaiming, “ you’ve insulted me!”. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.102)

2c On madness 

Through we speak of Orestes as being pursued by the Furies and kept from his sleep, weren’t the furies and avenging spirits that perused Epicurus even more ferocious? They woke him up when he was asleep and would allow him no rest, compelling him instead to proclaim his own ills, as do madness and wine in the case of the priests of Cybele. (Epictetus - Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Oxford p.122)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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