Augustine's God vs. Epictetus' God

Topics: God, Good and evil, Human Pages: 7 (1101 words) Published: April 2, 2001
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

be clear.

Epictetus and Augustine both identify God on basic level.

Epictetus says,

"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


Augustine says:

"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

all truth.

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

trust me.'

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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