minutesofhoney

Epictetus

In Philosophy on March 13, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Since we are all philosophers here, a quote from Epictetus, a Stoic philosopher from the early 1st century.

(Stoic philosophy, as the introduction to his Handbook informs, flourished in ancient Greece and Rome for around 500 years.  Stoic philosophers believed in an overall world order and that every event in the world followed patterns that could be studied via philosophy.  “Since our world is an ordered one, there is no use in railing against it,” said the Stoics.  Every event, from stubbing our toes to losing our money to bearing a full and fruitful family, will only ever follow the patterns of the world.  One can achieve greater happiness, Stoics believed, by accepting what befalls us, since even dissatisfying times are unavoidable.  Just as 2 plus 1 equals 3, we must accept the misery in our lives as gracefully as the joy: 2 plus 1 always equals 3, how much sense would it make wishing it otherwise?  Likewise, toe-stubbing and family picnics always equal toe-stubbing and family picnics.  Why throw our emotions out of the equation by wishing for what is not?)

Anyhow, a long-winded preamble to something cool that an ancestor once said:

“Never call yourself a philosopher and do not talk a great deal among non-philosophers about philosophical propositions, but do what follows from them. For example, at a banquet do not say how a person ought to eat, but eat as a person ought to. Remember that Socrates had so completely put aside ostentation that people actually went to him when they wanted to be introduced to philosophers, and he took them. He was that tolerant of being overlooked. And if talk about philosophical propositions arises among non-philosophers, for the most part be silent, since there is a great danger of your spewing out what you have not digested. And when someone says to you that you know nothing and you are not hurt by it, then you know that you are making a start at your task. Sheep do not show how much they have eaten by bringing the feed to the shepherds, but they digest the food inside themselves, and outside themselves they bear wool and milk. So in your case likewise do not display propositions to non-philosophers but instead the actions that come from the propositions when they are digested.”

I think Nike might have boiled this down as “Just Do It”.

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