Stoics - Moral Philosophy
EpictetusBy N.S. Gill
Imagine someone's twisting your leg. It hurts. "If you don't stop you'll break it," you warn him. A few moments later you calmly say, "See, I told you you'd break it." It's for just such stoicism that the philosopher Epictetus is remembered.
Epictetus was born a slave in Phrygia but came to Rome. Eventually he won his freedom from his abusive master and left Rome because of Domitian's edict against philosophers. The date of this edict (89) is the only firm date we have for Epictetus, but it is thought he lived from 55-135 AD.
As a stoic, Epictetus thought man should be concerned solely with will, which alone he can control. External events are beyond such control.
Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.In following such principles, the stoic should try not to desire or have aversions because
(http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/text/epictet/epicench.htm) Epictetus's "Enchiridion" (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy).
he who fails to obtain the object of his desire is disappointed, and he who incurs the object of his aversion wretched.Thus, hating sickness, death, and poverty will do no good but will lead to disappointment.
Epictetus is full of words of wisdom that, if followed, would lead to a happy and free life. While all but impossible for most of us, they are goals worth considering. To this end, for the month of January I will supply a Quote-a-Day from Epictetus whose words were recorded by his disciple Flavius Arrianus.
Other Stoic Philosophers
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