Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Epictetus Discourses 1.17 - that logic is indispenable

That the art of reasoning is indispensable

Entering the realm of philosophy and learning to live well, it is requisite that the student knows the tools and knows how to use the tools to accomplish an objective.

For this reason, Epictetus notes that "philosophers begin with logic" when teaching their students (v. 6).  He uses an analogy to explain.  "When measuring grain, one begins by examining the measure.  For unless we start off by establishing what a unit of measurement is, and what a balance is, how shall we ever be able to weigh or measure anything?" (v. 6-7).

Therefore, we ought to learn a "full and accurate knowledge of the standard of judgement that we apply in gaining a knowledge of everything else" (8).

To bolster his case for the importance of using learning and using logics, he notes previous philosophers who support this approach: Chrisippus, Zeno, Cleanthes, Antisthenes, Socrates and Xenophon (v. 10-12).

Also, to be able to read and understand previous philosophers, one ought to learn logic so one can interpret what they have said or written.  But even beyond that idea, if one learns logic well and applies it well, one won't even need the use of philosophers who have interpreted Nature, as we ought to be able to do so with applied, sound logic (see v. 15-19).

Furthermore, when someone tries to threaten you, you will be able to see things as they really are; "it isn't what you're threatened with that compels you, but your own judgement that it is better to do this or than than to die" (v. 25).

He concludes with a reminder that there is divinity in each of us and that a portion of god is in each of us.

"If you wish it, you are free; if you wish it, you'll find fault with no one, you'll cast blame on no one, and everything that comes about will do so in accordance with" your own will and god's will (v. 28).

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