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  • kcantekin 9:24 am on February 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    To those who have applied themselves to advancement at Rome 

    Epictetus – Discourses Book 1
    I.10. To those who have applied themselves to advancement at Rome

    1. The business of the philosopher requires him to deal with immense questions, such as “How the universe is governed? What is the place of the rational being in it?” etc.
    2. Compared to the issues in the mundane professions, the matters in philosophy are of greater importance and complexity.
    3. That being said, the mundane professions most certainly deserve attention and the struggle to attain perfection from their practitioners.
    4. Then, doesn’t philosophy deserve at least the equal degree of application? If neglect of the duties of a mundane job is wrong, isn’t neglect of application of philosophy equally wrong?
  • kcantekin 11:51 am on February 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: citizen of the world, , , ,   

    What are the consequences for us of being related to God? 

    Epictetus – Discourses Book 1
    I.9. What are the consequences for us of being related to God?

    1. As mankind is related to God, this should be how every all men designate their place in this world.
    2. So instead of being a citizen of the city of X or Y, we should see ourselves as citizens of the world, just as Socrates did.
    3. That is because this designation reflects your true ancestry that you share with all men.
    4. And it includes the insignificant location your petty body was born in.
    5. This also flows from the fact that we are all members of the all-inclusive state that God administers.
    6. And being related to God, and being connected with him with reason, we too are entitled to govern alongside him.

    These truths alone should make us strong and safe.

    We should not be afraid of depending only on ourselves.

    If we cannot get what we need to survive, we shall depart this life. So what! No need to complain, as we are children of God, and having come from him our earthly bodies are a hinderance only.

    But no need for this, there is no rush. God put you in this world and it is your duty to remain in your station until you are relieved. God has assigned us a post and our duties; who are us to abandon that?

    1. God gave us power over our will and he gave us reason. What else do you need?
    2. What interest do we have in things that are not under our control?
    3. We should not care for things on which only others have power.
    4. And the things that we care for, others are powerless to affect.

    If we keep these things in mind, nothing can force us to act against our will.

    “For in fact it is silly and pointless to try to get from another person what one can get for oneself. Since I can get greatness of soul and nobility from myself, why should I look to get a farm, or money, or some office, from you? I will not be so insensible of what I already own.”

  • kcantekin 12:32 pm on February 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    That talents are treacherous for the uneducated 

    Epictetus – Discourses Book 1
    I.8. That talents are treacherous for the uneducated

    We must not concentrate on learning about argumentation before sufficiently improving our character. In other words, we should not be distracted from the business of improving our character by dividing our attention for other studies at this point in our education.

    Proof and persuasion are important skills, but they become dangerous for the morally weak. They make people with weak character conceited and full of themselves.

    Being a philosopher means, first and foremost, having the right kind of moral character.

    Being good at arguing is a fine trait, but it is not the primary trait you have to master on the path of the philosopher.

  • kcantekin 12:56 pm on February 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , hypotheses, , premises   

    On the utility of changing arguments, hypothetical arguments and the rest 

    Epictetus – Discourses Book 1
    I.7. On the utility of changing arguments, hypothetical arguments and the rest

    If you want to walk the path of the philosopher, you must learn how to logically differentiate true from false. You have to be able to distinguish a valid argument from fallacies and sophistry.

    Therefore you must learn the rules of consequence to know how conclusions follow premises:

    1. When considering an argument be careful that the premises you have admitted are not changed when the conclusion is reached.
    2. Put differently, you should not accept conclusions that change their premises.
    3. But if the premises are not changed and you have admitted them, you have the obligation to accept what flows from them.

    The same goes for hypotheses and hypothetical arguments:

    1. Once you grant an hypothesis, you should accept only what is consistent with it, and reject what is in conflict.
    2. You cannot grant an hypothesis and then accept another that is conflict with the latter.

    Learning and knowing these rules are crucial to tell valid proof from fallacy.

  • kcantekin 7:40 am on February 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , purpose, understanding   

    On Providence 

    Epictetus – Discourses Book 1
    I.6. On Providence

    1. There is an argument for a creator God in the harmony of nature, i.e. the the alignment of form and function.
    2. This alignment is indicative of an ordered universe.
    3. In an ordered universe, form and function flows from purpose, and vice versa.


    1. The faculties of Man must be indicative of his purpose.
    2. Humans possess the faculty of understanding.
    3. Understanding is the ability to form consistent concepts in a purposeful and ordered universe by adding and subtracting sensual impressions from each other and so making mental combinations.
    4. Since our functions and faculties define our purpose,
    5. And thus our purpose is to put our faculty to use,
    6. Man should always strive to understand life and nature, and appreciate them.
    7. In other words, Man must put God’s gift to good use.

    When contemplating life and faced with its difficulties and disagreeable moments, one might sometimes fail to appreciate it fully.

    You must know that the inner strength to deal with these difficulties and appreciate life is given to you as a gift by God.

    You have the virtues of fortitude, courage, and patience. And these virtues, which are part of your nature, wait only for you to call upon them.

    God put these virtues under your full control and does not hinder you in using them.

    So you do not have the right to complain. You are free to deal with the situation and defy all difficulties if you choose so.

    If you give in to self-pity or helplessness, you are on your way to reproaching and accusing God, and that is impiety.


  • kcantekin 1:25 pm on February 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , honour, petrification   

    Against the Sceptics 

    Epictetus – Discourses Book 1
    I.5. Against the Sceptics

    Types of petrification of the mind are:

    1. Petrification of the intellect, and
    2. Petrification of the sense of honour. When defiance is misplaced, against self-evident truths.

    “One person does not notice a contradiction in his reasoning; he is unfortunate. Another person notices it, all right, but does not budge and does not back down; he is even more unfortunate. His sense of honour and truthfulness has been excised, and his reason – not excised, but brutalised.”

    I can and should avoid petrification of the mind, even when I cannot avoid that of the body.

  • kcantekin 6:56 am on February 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: aversion, avoidance, , , , impassivity, , progress   

    On Progress 

    Epictetus – Discourses Book 1
    I.4. On Progress

    1. To progress in the path of the philosopher, you must learn to use desire and avoidance properly.
    2. Impassivity and a good flow of life require steering desire towards good things, and avoidance to bad things.
    3. However, eventually desire must be done away with altogether, or one must learn how to defer it.
    4. Avoidance on the other hand must be reserved only for the moral sphere.
    5. This is because trying to avoid anything outside the moral sphere (thus unsusceptible to your moral choices) risks facing something contrary to your aversion.
    6. And this may cause disaster.

    You must direct yourself not to an abstract notion of perfection, but to what this perfection will bring – happiness, impassivity and a good flow of life.

    You must direct your practice to the purpose of being perfect or virtuous. Reading without practice is not progress, it is idiocy.

    1. Real progress consists in this: Setting as your goal in your practice never to fail in your desires, never experiencing what you avoid, and never to err in impulse and repulsion.
    2. Also, aim for perfection in being attentive and withholding judgment.
    3. Cultivate your character so it is in harmony with nature.
    4. So it is honest and trustworthy,
    5. …elevated and free,
    6. …unchecked and undeterred.
    7. Know that a person who exercises desire or aversion for things outside of his control cannot be free or faithful.
    8. And he will always be subject to those who have power over these things, which are external to him.

    You should put your principles in practice from the moment you get up in the morning, and in every situation you face. This is real progress.

    Always remember: “A student should expunge from his life sighs and sorrow, grief and disappointment, exclamations like ‘poor me’ and ‘alas’.”  These thoughts are the opposite of progress.

    Be like Socrates, not like Priam or Oedipus. “For what else are tragedies but the ordeals of people who have come to value externals, tricked out in tragic verse?”

  • kcantekin 6:36 am on February 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , self-respect   

    How to draw the correct consequences from the fact that God is the father of mankind? 

    Epictetus – Discourses Book 1
    I.3. How to draw the correct consequences from the fact that God is the father of mankind?

    1. The body we share with beasts.
    2. Reason and good judgment, God has shared with us.
    3. As we are so privileged, it is wrong to think mean or lowly of ourselves.
    4. In the light of this thought, we must use our impressions to achieve respect, fidelity and confidence.
    5. And we must not allow our impressions to transform into ignoble thoughts about ourselves.
    6. Also, we must not be disheartened by the feebleness of our mortal body, as we share a faculty with God.
  • kcantekin 8:05 am on February 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    How a person can preserve their proper character in any situation 

    Epictetus – Discourses Book 1
    I.2. How a person can preserve their proper character in any situation

    As a rule,

    1. Humans can tolerate what is reasonable, and
    2. They cannot tolerate what is unreasonable.

    Education is needed to align our preconceptions of reasonable and unreasonable with nature.

    But this alignment requires knowing your own individual nature, as much as it requires appraising the value of externals.

    A person’s character, and its value, can only be estimated by the person himself. In taking account of the valuations of others’, which are externals, we risk mistaking the value of our own character.

    1. Only a person himself can know how to keep with his own character.
    2. Only a person himself can realise his own strengths.
    3. So only I can know what is in keeping with my own Character.
    4. Only I can realise my own strengths.

    No one becomes a hero overnight, one has to train many winters. But not everyone has in his individual nature what takes to be a hero.

    This is inconsequential. This should not keep us from trying to do our best, according to our nature. “We do not abandon any discipline for despair of ever being the best in it.”

  • kcantekin 2:08 pm on February 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Concerning what is in our power and what is not 

    Epictetus – Discourses Book 1
    I.1. Concerning what is in our power and what is not


    1. The only faculty that can analyse itself.
    2. The only thing we humans actually own.
    3. It is a gift, in a way that our bodies aren’t.
    4. Our bodies do not belong to us.
    5. They belong to the material world.
    6. Reason gives us the powers of positive and negative impulse, desire, and aversion.
    7. These are the powers of God, and he gave us a part of his power.
    8. That to every human being.
    9. Impressions of good and bad are made by reason.
    10. A thing itself cannot make an impression.

    If you are on the Path of the Philosopher, you must write down these thoughts every day, and put them in practice.

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