Epictetus Enchiridion Essay

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In Epictetus’ Enchiridion, Epictetus claims that people are upset not by the things themselves but by their judgements about the things. This is because people are not in control of what happens to them, but they are in control of their own response. Therefore, the only things in life worth worrying about are those that are within the individual’s control. Worrying about anything else is destined to end in disappointment or sorrow.
Things outside of our control cannot bring us happiness. Possessions are outside our control and should not bring happiness. “If you have a favorite cup, that is but a cup which you are fond of.” (Epictetus, III). Epictetus thus claims that family should not be a source of happiness. He reminds us that they
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It is futile to fight against the inevitable, such as maladies or death, because illness, injuries, and mortality are inescapable. For this reason, Epictetus redefines loss as restoration. “Has your child died? It is restored. Has your wife died? She is restored. Has your estate been taken away? That likewise is restored.” (Epictetus, XI). Epictetus reasons that life and property are never truly owned, but rather possessed. He believes that peace and happiness is more important than possessions. The example of a misbehaving slave is made. “Is a little oil spilt or a little wine stolen? Say to yourself ‘This is the price to be paid for tranquility; and nothing is to be had for nothing.’” (Epictetus, XII). Epictetus makes the point that it is more important to be at peace than it is to correct the slave’s behavior through punishment. Essentially, Epictetus is saying that happiness is achieved through accepting dependence and vulnerability peacefully, rather than resisting. Others may have the power to take away your freedoms and your possessions, but whether these events negatively affect you is reliant only on your will. Though your favorite cup may fall and shatter, it is your own free will that chooses whether to dwell on the loss or to shrug your shoulders, say “such is life,” and move

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