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Epictetus:  55-135

LX:101 | You Will Not Be Disturbed

When anything, from the meanest thing upwards, is attractive or serviceable or an object of affection, remember always to say to yourself, ‘What is its nature?’ If you are fond of a jug, say you are fond of a jug; then you will not be disturbed if it be broken. If you kiss your child or your wife, say to yourself that you are kissing a human being, for then if death strikes it you will not be disturbed.
 
When you are about to take something in hand, remind yourself what manner of thing it is. If you are going to bathe put before your mind what happens in the bath - water pouring over some, others being jostled, some reviling, other stealing; and you will set to work more securely if you say to yourself at once: ‘I want to bathe, and I want to keep my will in harmony with nature,’ and so in each thing you do; for in this way, if anything turns up to hinder you in your bathing, you will be ready to say, ‘I did not want only to bathe, but to keep my will in harmony with nature, and I shall not so keep it, if I lose my temper at what happens’.
 
What disturbs men’s minds is not events but their judgements on events. For instance, death is nothing dreadful, or else Socrates would have thought it so. No, the only dreadful thing about it is men’s judgement that it is dreadful. And so when we are hindered, or disturbed, or distressed, let us never lay the blame on others, but on ourselves, that is on our own judgments. To accuse others for one’s own misfortunes is a sign of want of education; to accuse one self shows that one’s education has begun; to accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one’s education is complete.
 

Source

Epictetus.  The Discourses and Manual.  Trans. P.E. Matheson.  Oxford University Press 1916.  215-16.
 
 

LX:8 | Ours / Not Ours

Of all existing things some are in our power, and others are not in our power. In our power are thought, impulse, will to get and will to avoid, and, in a word, everything which is our own doing. Things not in our power include the body, property, reputation, office, and, in a word, everything which is not our own doing. Things in our power are by nature free, unhindered, untrammelled; things not in our power are weak, servile, subject to hindrance, dependent on others. Remember then that if you imagine that what is naturally slavish is free, and what is naturally another's is your own, you will be hampered, you will mourn, you will be put to confusion, you will blame gods and men; but if you think that only your own belongs to you, and that what is another's is indeed another's, no one will ever put compulsion or hindrance on you, you will blame none, you will accuse none, you will do nothing against your will, no one will harm you, you will have no enemy, for no harm can touch you.

Aiming then at these high matters, you must remember that to attain them requires more than ordinary effort; you will have to give up some things entirely, and put off others for the moment. And if you would have these also - office and wealth - it may be that you will fail to get them, just because your desire is set on the former, and you will certainly fail to attain those things which alone bring freedom and happiness.

Make it your study then to confront every harsh impression with the words, 'You are but an impression, and not at all what you seem to be'. Then test it by those rules that you possess; and first by this - the chief test of all - 'Is it concerned with what is in our power or with what is not in our power?' And if it is concerned with what is not in power, be ready with the answer that it is nothing to you.  (1, p. 213)


Source

Epictetus.  The Discourses and Manual.  Trans. P.E. Matheson.  Oxford University Press 1916. 


See Also

Lexicon Entries

The PhilosopherTraining of the Self By Oneself

Works and Days

Saturday December 29 2012 

Documents

 


Notes

 


LX:7 | The Philosopher

The philosopher is distinguished from the ignorant man by putting blame on the right person.

The first difference between the philosopher and the uneducated man is that the latter says, 'Woe is me for me child, for my brother, woe is me for my father', and the other, if he is compelled to speak, considers the matter and says, 'Woe is me for myself.'  For nothing outside the will can hinder or harm the will; it can only harm itself.  If then we accept this, and, when things go amiss, are inclined to blame ourselves, remembering that judgement alone can disturb our peace and constancy, I swear to you by all the gods that we have made progress.  (vol. 2, bk. 3, ch. 19, p. 53)


Source

Epictetus.  The Discourses and Manual.  Trans. P.E. Matheson.  Oxford University Press 1916. 


See Also

Lexicon Entries

Intentional Arc; Ours / Not Ours; The 'Claro, Pero' Paradox; The Red Ink;The Most Basic Sphere of Concern is Schooling

Works and Days

Saturday December 29 2012 

Documents

 


Notes