PHI 1104 – Study Questions
1. How does Epictetus distinguish between what is your own and what is not
- Things that are our own
o Opinion, choice, desire, aversion – everything that is our own doing
o Things that are by nature free, unhindered, unimpeded
- Things that are not our own
o Our body, our possessions, our reputations, our offices – everything that is not
our own doing
o Things that are weak, slavish, hindered and up to others
2. Why is making this distinction essential to being happy?
This is essential to being happy because if you regard things that are up to others as
your own, you will be hampered, you will suffer, you will get upset and you will blame
both the gods and men.
However, if you regard as your own only what is in fact yours and what is up to others as
up to others, nobody will ever compel you, nobody will hinder you, you will blame
nobody, you will not reproach anyone, you will do nothing against your will, nobody will
harm you, you will have no enemy, for you will not suffer anything harmful.
3. What, according to Epictetus, should be our attitude towards what is not
You should not occupy yourself with them with modest effort, but you must give up some
things altogether and postpone others for the present moment. If, however, you wish to
both attain these things and to hold office and be rich, you risk failure even to obtain the
latter, because you are seeking the former; but you will inevitably fail to attain those
things that alone procure freedom and happiness.
4. What does he mean by living and choosing ‘according to nature’?
When you are about to undertake some action, remind yourself what kind of action it is.
Picture in your mind all the things that will occur when you do that action. That way you
will approach the action more securely. If something happens that hinders you, you will say readily, “Well, I did not only want this, but I also wanted to keep my choices in
accordance with nature; but I will not do so, if I get irritated about the things that
You should only be proud of what is your own. (E.g. not being proud of a beautiful horse
– that is the horse’s good, not your own).
- Treat things in li