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  • kcantekin 8:25 am on May 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , education, ,   

    On Preconceptions 

    Epictetus – Discourses Book 1
    I.22. On Preconceptions

    Everyone has preconceptions. And the essence of these preconceptions are shared by all people. It is from the application of these preconceptions to particular cases that conflicts arise.

    For instance, all people have similar preconceptions as to what holiness, or justice, or audacity are, but they reach conflicting conclusions as to what is holy, just, brave, or audacious.

    Education teaches people to apply natural preconceptions to particular cases in accordance with nature, and to distinguish what is in our power from what is not in our power.

    We should assign goodness to things that are in our power and not to things outside it. It follows that our health, property or family are not good, but nor are they evil. If we classify things outside our power as good, then it will be impossible to remain happy when these things are taken from us by misfortune. Also, if these things are good, our natural inclination for self-interest will force us to pursue these things no matter what, and being outside our power and control, we will unavoidably be subjected to the power of others.

    There is another disadvantage in applying the designation of good to externals: When we face a misfortune and lose these ‘goods’, we risk blaming God, as we might start doubting whether he looks after us. And this might push us to be impious and finally hate God.

  • kcantekin 10:12 am on February 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , education, ,   

    Concerning family affection 

    Epictetus – Discourses Book 1
    I.11. Concerning family affection

    1. What we observe occuring naturally must not be confused with what ought to happen.
    2. That is because our impressions based on our different ideas of right and wrong effect how we observe natural phenomena.
    3. As rational beings we strive to do the rational thing, the right thing, based on our impressions of natural phenomena.
    4. However impressions are a matter of choice. They are judgments, and we are masters of our own judgments.
    5. It follows that what we do is solidly based on our choices about our impressions and not on anything external to us.

    Take the father who does not remain by her sick daughter’s bed, because he cannot bear the grief of seeing her sick. Is this good and natural behaviour, based on affection?

    The father leaves his daughter’s side because he thinks this is a good idea at the time, he thinks this is the rational thing to do at that moment. But closer scrutiny will show that this choice is based on a warped understanding of what is natural; that watching a loved one suffer is painful, and that it is natural and rational to escape from such pain.

    However you must see that this reasoning is simply and completely based on his impression of death and pain. His opinion that these things are bad and must be counteracted upon.

    But as we learned earlier, we must not assign the qualities of good and bad to phenomena external to us. We must be careful to apply desire and aversion to external things. Applying this principle to our impressions is a matter of choice and education.

    If the father in our example had not assigned the quality of bad to the suffering of his daughter and the pain this caused to him, and had he not applied aversion to this external phenomena, he could reason that is is a natural norm that family members show affection and support to each other in times of infirmity. And that is is natural that a father comforts his sick daughter. Once the natural norm is found, subjective impressions on external phenomena will no longer effect our ability to do the right choices in life.

    The discovery of this natural norm is the objective of our education. Once the natural norm is found, and desire and aversion are applied in accordance with the requirements of these norms, a theory of good and bad – or ethics – will emerge.



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