Robert Lynd's On Not Being a Philosopher: Discussion Epictetus's Philosophy

Lynd read Epictetus. He agreed with nearly everything he said. He found close resemblance between the opinions. Epictetus held the same opinions. He felt death, pain and poverty as real evils except when he was in arm-chair reading a book by a philosopher. Even in the small things of life he failed to comfort himself like a philosopher of the school of Epictetus. He commands a spiritual attitude of which is nature is incapable. He has failed to achieve his imperturbability in small affairs.

When Epictetus expresses his opinions on material possessions and counsels us to be so indifferent to then that we should not object to their being stolen, the writer agrees with him in theory and yet in practice he is unable to obey and follow him. There is nothing more certain than that a man whose happiness depends on his possessions is not happy. He is sure a wise man can be happy on a pittance-neither Epictetus nor he believes happiness to be the aim of life. But Epictetus holds up an ideal of imperturbability. He assures us that we shall achieve this if we care so little for material thing. “Stop admiring your clothes and you are not angry at the man who steals them.”

The writer feels that he could imitate Epictetus if he live in world in which nothing happened. But in a world where disagreeable thing happen, it is not possible. In spite of this most of us cannot help believing that the philosophers where right that most of the things we bother about are not worth bothering about.  the truth is that such men as Socrates and Epictetus were right in their indifference to external things, yet most of us would be alarmed if one began to put philosophy of Epictetus into practice too literally, what we regard as wisdom in Epictetus. We should look on as insanity in an acquaintance, or perhaps, not in an acquaintance but at least in a near relation. the reasoning of Epictetus may be sound but neither individually nor as a society we live in, we can follow him. we should be fools to imitate philosophers like Epictetus. We are convinced that, while philosophers are worth reading, material things are worth bothering about. It is as though we enjoyed wisdom as a delightful spectacle on a stage which it would be unseemly for the audience to attempt to invade. Lynd remarks,"To become wise without effort by listening to a voice, by reading a book - it is at one the most exciting and the most soothing of dreams." He took down Epictetus in such a dream. He thinks that it was only a dream.

 Ardhendu De     
Ref: 1.Theory of Epictetus:   
 *Epictetus was concerned chiefly with the problem of morality—that is, of defining good.

    *Humans are basically limited and irrational beings, but that the universe, ruled by God  through pure reason, is perfect.
     *As human beings can neither know nor control their destiny, they must cease striving for the attainment of worldly ends and instead calmly accept the fact of their own powerlessness before fate.
    *Epictetus held that human beings must, because of their own weaknesses, be tolerant of the faults of others.

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