PHIL 1033 Lecture Notes - Lecture 24: Stoicism

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The Meaning of Life
The Handbook of Epictetus
Lecture Notes
-Two forms of Epictetus: moderate and more extreme
-Moderate : We need to have rich and fulfilling life and experiences, hence we need to have a
reality check and know what seems reasonable and possible and what doesn’t
-If we have desires that are hard to fulfill, we can either try to fulfill them (moderate would
support), but if we fail we shouldn’t get too disappointed.
-If the desire is too impossible to fulfill, we should moderate it and try to fulfill it
-Moderate Epictetus would say that goals and ambitions are realistic and we should have
them, but if we fail then we should try to modify them and move on. but if theres an unrealistic
desire we should try to get rid of it and realize that we can’t really fulfill it and we should do
better in the future
-We should have a realistic sense of our surroundings which will help us navigate it better and
have less disappointment
-The outside world happens in accordance to laws and causes
Rather than try to mold the world to fulfill our desires, we could take and mold our internal
world to make our mentality okay with whatever happens in the outside world
-Ex. it’s a false belief to go into a bathhouse thinking it’ll be calm and relaxed, we either
shouldn’t go or we should acknowledge that there will be kids or whatever there
-Ex. the jug - if we like an object, we shouldn't have an upsetting belief towards it if it breaks,
thats an unrealistic viewpoint
Thus we should appreciate it for what it is and when we loose it we shouldn’t be upset
If we get upset when it breaks, then we haven’t been acknowledging that it is a tangible
-Epictetus says the frustration we face is because we don't take into consideration all the
causes that make the world as it is and we don’t relish that
Ex. Hospital traffic
Ex. Dishes - instead of grumbling, keeping in mind that someone has to do it to keep the
area clean
Ex. Getting sick over break - instead of complaining that break is being wasted, thanking
your body for being healthy and knowing that you’re going to get sick at some point and
now you can just sit and relax
-Says what upsets people isn’t what happens to them, but what our judgements of things are
Benefit of Stoicism
-If we have expectations we should try to bracket it and realize that most our expectations are
false and faulty
-A stoic would realize that others might have a legitimate reason to need to do certain things
-Take more risks, with more upside
-A higher amount of satisfaction
-Would have tranquility vs discombobulation
Modern Epictetus doesn't say expect everything that happens, but try to make the world fit
your desires
Says theres a value in realizing all that we can’t control and thus we’ll learn that we can’t
benefit the world always
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