Encheiridion or The Handbook
Epictetus (A.D.c.55-c.135) was a Stoic, that is he was a representative of Stoicism. Stoicism was a philosophical movement that was popular in the ancient world, from when it was founded by Zeno of Citium, until the death of the Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius. Stoicism came from the Greek word “Stoa Poikile” which means “painted porch”. Epictetus was a freed slave who studied Stoic philosophy and later taught it in Rome and then in Greece. The Encheiridion or The Handbook embodies the core ideas of Stoicism.
Epictetus like other Stoics believed that the world is like an organism where all the parts work for the good of the whole and everything that happens in the world is governed by divine reason i.e., logos and is therefore always good. But often humans are not able to see this goodness (in all that happens in the world) because of their limited vision. According to Stoics (hence also Epictetus) virtue is the only thing in life that is the most valuable. And this virtue is defined as action in accordance with reason. And hence, all other things that are valued by people, such as health, wealth, pleasure or fame, are either instruments to attaining the supreme good or are worthless, it is better for humans not to desire such things.
But, while Stoics believed in the natural order and design of things, Epictetus tried to reconcile “the design of nature” and “our own freedom”. Thus we as humans, do have some choices that we can make in our lives and we are not entirely governed by “the design of nature”.
Emotions were regarded as harmful because they keep us from living according to reason. Epictetus preaches that we should try and get a dispassionate understan...
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...is , it will be to our own advantage.
But speaking specifically about whether I am in agreement with his views about human nature and the good life, well I don’t. I don’t believe that one must give up all worldly goals and possessions such as money, wealth, power, pleasure, health etc. I believe that (no matter what anybody tells you) these things are necessary to have in one’s life and I feel that all of us to some degree or the other strive for these things. And it is this “striving” for these things that has led to the advancement of our species . I am also in disagreement about the fact that “emotions are harmful”. I feel that emotions are necessary and that without them human beings would not have been able to survive. We are social animals that are emotional, we feel emotions such as love, hate, envy, pride etc., some of which are good and some are bad.