At first glance, I was immediately
inclined to argue in epictetus' favor, because it pains
me to argue that Christianity is good for anybody. In the following paragraphs, i will
contrast the God of Epictetus, and the God of Augustine, and in the end, my stand will
Epictetus and Augustine both identify God on basic level.
"Where the essence of God is, there too is the essence of good. What is the essence of
God?......Right Reason? Certainly. Here then, without more ado, seek the essence of
He says strive for goodness, live in conformity with it, and you will find God. God is
the vital force that creates all things and the cosmic intellegence that governs it from
"Where I found truth, there i found my God, who is truth itself."
He says strive for truth and understanding...In loving God, we love truth. Persons can
come to know truth though inner experience and conviction, he holds that you can't
obtain true knowledge without faith. you must have faith in God, who is the essence of
Both philosophers address man's powerlessness in the face of God. Epictetus asserted
that humans are basically limited and irrational beings, but that the universe, ruled by
God through pure reason, is perfect. Because human beings can neither know nor control
their destiny, they must cease striving for the attainment of worldly ends and pleasures
and instead calmly accept the fact of their own powerlessness before fate. The only thing
in a person's power is their response to events or outlook, namely, their morality.
Augustine believed faith preceded reason. He believed people are good, but not perfect.
But in Augustinean theology, each person is predestined to either heaven, or to fry like
bacon, and there's nothing you can do about it. Salvation is a "free gift" with purchase,
but only to every 7,000th caller. This is where i would think morality means squat. If you
know God decided when you were born whether or not you were going to heaven,
nothing you do makes any difference. You can step all over everbody, and run with
scissors and it doesn't matter. If you go to hell, you were going there anyway. If you're
going to heaven, you've got a few good stories to tell when you get there. On top of all
this, Augustine says that no human mind can penetrate the mystery of of God's wisdom.
I think this makes it a little harder for people to follow the ways of Augustines God, who
you will never understand. It's like when you were little and had to pretty much do as
your parents said, but didn't really understand why. 'You'll understand when you're
older.' they'd tell you, and it's a little of that same feeling. 'you'll understand later, just
Epictetus disagrees. He says, "All people possess
the ability to comprehend the
divine."....and the good life is living in conformity with the divine nature. Every person
is a "fragment" of God, and that you carry her with you, and She hears and sees
everything, which would sure make me watch my step. We are to make the best of
whats in our power and what we can control, and not get pouty about what we can't.
Don't be ungrateful, be thankful, because God has given you will, and man doesn't
have anything stronger than that. Epictetus believes that it's God's best gift, because it
allows you to make use of all the other gifts. He belives that the good for humans
must be attainable. God has given you a will, use it to do good and seek happiness, but
stick to what you can control, your ethics and your morality.
Epictetus and Augustine seem to agree that the pursuit of material interests and
pleasures are no good. In the end it will only cause you frustration and disapointment. On
top of being just plain...
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