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Analyze Epictetus Major Works: Discourses Enchiridion - Essay Example

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Analyze Epictetus Major Works: Discourses Enchiridion

In both the Discourses and the Enchiridion, Epictetus clearly implies that the world is indeed corrupt and that most people in it tend to do evil. According to Epictetus, “For the nature of man is not to endure to be deprived of the good, and not to endure the falling into the evil.”1 Man, for Epictetus, is born as one who cannot fight temptation. Man is therefore weak in terms of will. In fact, as Epictetus tells the reader what to do, he is trying to tell him that there is no other way to do good but for one to make decisions by himself and not to rely on anyone else. Epictetus thus implies that there is absolutely no one in this world who is spared from this tendency to falter in the face of evil. According to Epictetus, people are generally “indolent and negligent and sluggish.”2 People generally tend to evade duties and responsibilities not only in matters of physical labor but also in trying to cultivate reason. This claim, which Epictetus obviously derived from his observations of the Greeks, is also very much true nowadays. One can see jobless people around who keep putting blaming the government, their families, and many other things for their present unemployment. It is interesting to note, however, that Epictetus does not tell us to put the blame on other things but rather, if one is unemployed, one should blame himself for it. For Epictetus, this tendency towards indolence and sluggishness is somehow based on the idea that one lacks reason, and if one lacks reason, then it follows that one also lacks wisdom. For Epictetus, people generally lack wisdom. They may have wealth, children, a wife and many slaves, and everything else which is good in life but still they lack something. These people lack “the things necessary and the chief things for happiness.”3 This is wisdom. Wisdom is the one thing that helps one understand and determine what is good and what is bad and at the same time, teaches him to know himself better as well as the world in which he lives and interacts with others. Since wisdom is not easy to attain, people tend to “look externally to things which are independent of [their] will.”4 These people, since they lack wisdom, tend to worry about things that are beyond their control, such as “What would others think?” or “What would others say if I did this?” No matter how intelligent someone is, if he does not possess wisdom, he will, according to Epictetus, forever be swayed by his opinions of the things upon which he has no control. Therefore, if one lacks wisdom, one tends to change the unchangeable and simply accepts that which should be changed. The man of wisdom simply does the opposite. Without wisdom and reason, what does one expect himself to become? For Epictetus, the lack of wisdom and reason makes one either a sheep or a wild beast, which is what most people are. A sheep will naturally simply “act gluttonously…lewdly…rashly, filthily [and] inconsiderately,” while a wild beast would normally act “harmfully, passionately [and] violently.”5 The man who lacks rational faculties is therefore a man who is easily subdued by his feelings ...Show more


The World as Evil and The Weaknesses of People in Epictetus’ Discourses and Enchiridion (name) (subject) (professor) (date) The World as Evil and The Weaknesses of People in Epictetus’ Discourses and Enchiridion The 1st century Greek philosopher Epictetus is one of the ancient founders of stoicism, or the philosophical thought founded on the idea that men are disturbed not by the things that happen to them but by their opinion of these things…
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Analyze Epictetus Major Works: Discourses Enchiridion essay example
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