The Stoic Epictetus

Who Is Epictetus?
What is Stoicism?

Stoicism is a school of  Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. Stoicism flourished throughout the Roman and Greek
until the 3rd century AD, and among its adherents was Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
It is a philosophy that deals with Ethics and Logic.
What’s interesting to me in this philosophy is what Stoics call “Prohairesis”(Will) which rule “in accordance with nature”. To live a good life, one had to understand the rules of the natural order since they thought everything was rooted in nature. For example, a meditation about death is fundamental.
You may probably think “What is nature or natural?” as the world itself is subjective to each of us. And why should living according to nature be a “good” thing?

Epictetus(50-135) is one of the late philosophers of this school, who was born a slave.
Epictetus divided events/things in life into two categories:
  1. Controlled: Opinion, Desire, Goals, Aversions. Things that owned by our action.
    These things are Free and unrestrained.
  2. Not controlled: Body, Property, Reputation. Not own by our action, belong to others.
    These things are Slavish and restrained and do not concern you.


From the book The art of living

Sample key ideas:
    • Appearances: When encountering harsh events say: “You are but an appearance, not absolutely the thing you appear”
    • Aversions: Averse only what you can control.
    • Perspective: Humans are disturbed not by things, but by principles and notions concerning things. It is the judgment we make about things that distress.
    • Obstacles: Hindrances to something else but not to yourself. Illness is an obstacle to the body, but not to your choice or response.
    • Free: Wish nothing, decline nothing that depends on others.
Epictetus taught that philosophy is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline.
Don’t demand things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do and you will go on well.
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