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  1. #1

    Post Chapter 1 of 53 Enchiridion analysis

    [Mod note: Epictetus (circa 50-135 AD) was a Greek philosopher. The Enchiridion or Handbook of Epictetus is a collection of his ethical advice compiled by Arrian, one of his 2nd century followers. It was divided into chapters. The version used from 1798 onward is explained in 53 chapters.]

    I will allow you to understand that in no uncertain terms ,that this is my interpretation of what the enchiridion means. Epictetus wrote nothing and all books are written by his pupil Arrian. There are many followers and critics of stoicism , and i say the essence of knowledge is the question all things through debate and discussion. That is if you feel something is off refute it vehemently as we are really just human flawed creatures without a doubt. I Will do other books and scripture but i will finish what i start first.

    This is 1 of 53 chapters that i shall review.

    . Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.

    The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free, and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you not be harmed.

    Aiming therefore at such great things, remember that you must not allow yourself to be carried, even with a slight tendency, towards the attainment of lesser things. Instead, you must entirely quit some things and for the present postpone the rest. But if you would both have these great things, along with power and riches, then you will not gain even the latter, because you aim at the former too: but you will absolutely fail of the former, by which alone happiness and freedom are achieved.

    Work, therefore to be able to say to every harsh appearance, "You are but an appearance, and not absolutely the thing you appear to be." And then examine it by those rules which you have, and first, and chiefly, by this: whether it concerns the things which are in our own control, or those which are not; and, if it concerns anything not in our control, be prepared to say that it is nothing to you.

    1.The first segment mostly addresses your actual sphere of influence. opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion. Opinion = are your views and judgment on a matter, Pursuit = what you are trying to obtain,Desire = what you want and what you wish, aversion = what you wish to avoid ,These are easy enough because they pertain to the individual, In a sense they are birthrights.
    not in your control include body, property, reputation, command.

    You cannot control your body plain and simple, you are born with a body you have to adjust to . Some people are in fact naturally smarter, faster, stronger, and well restrained ,etc. You must conform to certain things about your body and work around them if possible. Ex. you shall never grow taller but you can always get stronger, or your eye color will always be brown unless of course you have a cosmetic surgery.

    Property can be trickier as there are many interpretations of this. First of all you are not property , how can you actually control something that is not yourself . The land was there and will be there before and after yourself .Maybe you feel as if you can buy a piece of land .Ok let's say you buy that land, there are still thousands if not hundreds of thousands of living things on that land on which you will share it with. What makes you think you own something because other humans allow you to have slight influence over what you think is your own? Humans are far from the most important species as we are equal with all. This is the human ego taking form. perhaps you can kill an ant or drive in a man made vehicles so you feel a sense of superiority. Though you fail to mention animals kill you are not superior but a killer , and likewise all things will return to the dirt in due time .Or you say I can drive in a man made vehicle do not forget that you are compensating for your own lack of speed and durability . But I am more intelligent than other animals therefore I am better! No it means you are more intelligent, not that you are better and what truly is intelligence ? Have you really given that question any thought?
    What if the government takes the land you thought you owned ,The nation is conquered by a foreign one ,or you die? simply put the land does not follow you in your actions or in death meaning you did not own it but simply temporarily possessed it and only to other humans.

    reputation cannot be controlled as you cannot control how others interpret your actions.You may think you can but you do not have their value system nor life experiences, we tend to reach different conclusions about the same subject matters. Though an easier example to understand would be to think about how if a CEO were to preach to his employees about the essence of hard work. some of them may respect him because of it, others may desire to have what they perceive he has, some of them will think he's full of himself and others may question how could he know the circumstances pertaining to them? All the while he believes that everyone is thinking the same thing as him.
    Command is another tricky one that I think about every time I listen to the enchiridion .I believe it may lie under the definition of what you were born to do. We all know Epictetus was a religious person so he could mean the gods assign a role to you at birth. These gods being destiny and fate. Interestingly enough for someone like me who is non religious it can still inherit the same role as destiny and fate mean the outcome.

    Why does this matter, because these are the guidelines to freedom, happiness and tranquility, freedom. You cannot have both care for externals (reputation, command, property, and body) and internals (pursuit, opinion, desire and aversion) . That is you need to be laser focused on one or the other even a slight slip up and you will gain or lose proficiency
    either you are a slave or you are not.

    Last edited by Unboxxed; July 30, 2022 at 6:53 AM.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Mr Wombat's Avatar
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    Mar 2014

    re: Chapter 1 of 53 Enchiridion analysis

    Property can be trickier as there are many interpretations of this.
    Property is not a natural attribute of a thing. If I sell my pencil to you, nothing about that pencil has changed. What has changed is how we have all agreed to behave with respect to that pencil. Before the sale, I could break the pencil and no-one would mind. After, if I break that pencil, people will demand I make reparations, and if I don't they'll haul my ass into prison.

    But nothing about the pencil has changed. Property comes into existence when there's a society. It is a construct of society. A man on a desert island neither owns nor does not own the coconuts. Property means telling someone to leave your shit alone, and knowing that all the other people will back you up on that.

    Which is not to say that property "doesn't exist". It's real and very important. But at the end of the day, ownership only exists because it's constructed by other people, and "other people" can revoke it. Happens all the time, as too many divorced men here know.

    Perhaps that's what dude was getting at.

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