Epictetus’ thoughts in “Enchiridion” do not stray from the Via Romana, which promotes hard work and conservatism over the enjoyment of aesthetics and emotional indulgences. For Romans, at least, happiness is a meager issue compared to a Roman citizen’s obligations to the State and to his gods. In this manual of ethics, Epictetus suggests that Romans – and possibly non-Romans – should entirely reject the relative and fleeting satisfactions of judgment, indulgence, and expectation to achieve what he calls a “harmony with nature.” He believes that through an extreme sense of humility, we are able to better handle our destiny and put it into a perspective that is ultimately righteous. As appropriately idealistic as these notions might seem to a Roman citizen, they are wholly unrealistic and ultimately inapplicable to a rational human mind. It seems that repression, rather than happiness, is the goal of a good life to Epictetus.
He suggests that a human neglect his feelings of frustration when faced with adversity from his fellow man: “Oh, well, this was not the only thing that I wanted, but I wanted also to keep my moral purpose in harmony with nature; and I shall not keep it if I am vexed at what is going on” (260).
It is an amusing suggestion that a human has the capacity to allow his intellectual mind to operate in lieu of his emotional spirit. By solemnly accepting the notion, we do great damage to Aristotle’s valid belief that humans are fundamentally different from plants most especially because of their possession of a rational soul. He says that it is our purpose to act in accordance with it in search of excellence. Excellence, according to Epictetus, mandates the dulling of our unique gift so that we might attain equilibrium with nature – a concept that is itself vague and similarly far-fetched. For instance, genuine sympathy for the deceased, a natural function of man, is not permitted by Epictetus: .”..
The course of history has shown that during times of confusion or disaster, people’s true human nature emerges. Unlike the view of Gandhi, in these moments humans behave violently and are concerned with self-interest, supporting the Athenian’s view of human motivation. In the History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides gives ample support of this view of human nature. Generally ...
be careful not to groan also in the centre of your being” (261).
Assuming that we cannot truly rid ourselves of emotional instabilities due to life events, an intuitive understanding of happiness dictates that we should purge ourselves of that suffering by actually experiencing it rather than intellectualize its insignificant nature. We allow ourselves happiness through emotional stability – the median – rather than indulging in the extremes, or as Epictetus suggests, the abolition of “external impression.” It is not sufficient to justify that happiness is not the goal of a good life by simply refuting Epictetus’ instructions. One must explicitly justify that happiness is in fact the goal of a good life as well.
Although the Aristotelian interpretation of happiness as the pursuit of excellence is a realistic and legitimate raison d’etre, is not comparable to Epictetus’ rejection of happiness as the denial of emotions that are attributed to events beyond the scope of our control. Human beings are unique creatures in nature since we possess irrational processes of thinking. For example, we have the ability to practice philosophy and exhibit complex emotions in reaction to events. It is foolish and unethical to nearly discard many of our unique faculties in an attempt to emulate what is thought to be a more perfect state of existence where we do not experience events with the full array of our emotions. It is only through catharsis – the release of our emotional polarities – that we are able to discern what is and what is not truly within our influence. It is patently obvious that Epictetus, in accordance with the Roman ideal of “se veritas,” wishes Romans to cease their natural reactions to life’s experiences – namely, the emotional promises of happiness and unhappiness.
What are the 3 moments in my life that made me into the person I am today. Well when I was first asked that question by my teacher I kinda laughed to myself. This is going to be easy just take three things that have happened to me that kinda of go with each other throw in some deep heart moving things that teachers eat up and call it done. When I started I chose my adoption ,my brothers adoption ...
We must realize, however, that although his writings are appropriate to the culture, they are neither feasible nor applicable to it much less the contemporary American culture. It promotes – or even mandates – the suppression of irrational reaction, a concept that must exist to ensure the difference between wisdom and naivet’e.