Category Archives: Epictetus

Epictetus: Discourses 1.2

We just finished covering Discourses 1.1 – Things that are in your power, and things that are not within your power. Epictetus clearly laid out that the mind is distinguished from the body (among other things):

Body Mind
Not completely in your power Completely in your power
Clay, earth Portion of the divine
Subject to setbacks, hindrances Invincible
Small, “poor little body” Capable of expanding as large as the cosmos

He also alluded to a sort of human superpower, called reason, that helps us unlock these properties of the mind and deal with obstacles.

He talked about perceptions, and the concept that humans assign value to objects and events. (Remember, quotes like “What else tells us that gold is beautiful? Gold itself doesn’t tell us that,” and “I must go into exile; can anyone prevent me from going into exile with a smile, cheerfully and serenely?”

Today, Epictetus addresses the fact that “rational” and “irrational” can mean different things to different people, depending on what you value and what you consider your ultimate aim. He also talks about what it means to stay true to your character, and just how much weight that can have once you decide to adhere to it. Let’s get started.

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Epictetus: Discourses 1.1

I randomly decided that I want to read through the works of the three most famous Stoics—Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius—and type up their works in a language that is quick and easy to understand. Once all is said and done, I may or may not print and bind the document, as a sort of “Stoic Trilogy” to keep at hand for quick reading of the main texts.

I’m starting with Epictetus’ Discourses. As you may well know, my favorite Stoic writer is Seneca. He’s funny, and he’s got a way with words. We’ll spend time with him later. But right now we’re working with Epictetus. Epictetus is a bad ass; he’s like a Stoic drill sergeant. I can imagine him tearing up a student, “You think that’s worth crying about, huh?? Shut the hell up and use that damn brain the gods gave you!” Read more of this post

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