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.