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Arrian's Discourses of Epictetus
That when we cannot fulfil that which the character of a man promises, we assume the character of a philosopher.
What is the matter on which a good man should be employed, and in what we ought chiefly to practise ourselves.
2 This is obscure. The conclusion, “Reason therefore is analysed by itself” is not in Epictetus; but it is implied, as Schweighaeuser says (p. 197, notes). So Antoninus, xi. 1, writes: “These are the properties of the rational soul; it sees itself, analyses itself.” If reason, our reason, requires another reason to analyse it, that other reason will require another reason to analyse that other reason; and so on to infinity. If reason then, our reason, can be analysed, it must be analysed by itself. The notes on the first part of this chapter in the edition of Schweighaeuser may be read by those who are inclined.
3 “Our opinions.” There is some defect in the text, as Wolf remarks. “The opponent,” he says, “disparages Logic (Dialectic) as a thing which is not necessary to make men good, and he prefers moral teaching to Logic: but Epictetus informs him, that a man who is not a Dialectician will not have a sufficient perception of moral teaching.”
4 He repeats the words of the supposed opponent; and he means that his adversary's difficulty shows the necessity of Dialectic.
5 Antisthenes who professed the Cynic philosophy, rejected Logic and Physic (Schweig. note p. 201).
6 Xenophon, Mem. iv. 5, 12, and iv. 6, 7. Epictetus knew what education ought to be. We learn language, and we ought to learn what it means. When children learn words, they should learn what the thing is which is signified by the word. In the case of children this can only be done imperfectly as to some words, but it may be done even then in some degree; and it must be done, or the word signifies nothing, or, what is equally bad, the word is misunderstood. All of us pass our lives in ignorance of many words which we use; some of us in greater ignorance than others, but all of us in ignorance to some degree.
7 The supposed interpreter says this. When Epictetus says “the Roman tongue,” perhaps he means that the supposed opponent is a Roman and does not know Greek well.
8 Encheiridion, c. 49. “When a man gives himself great airs because he can understand and expound Chrysippus, say to yourself, If Chrysippus had not written obscurely, this man would have had nothing to be proud of.” See the rest.
10 This is true. If you place before a man the fear of death, you threaten him with the fear of death. The man may yield to the threat and do what it is the object of the threat to make him do; or he may make resistance to him who attempts to enforce the threat; or he may refuse to yield, and so take the consequence of his refusal. If a man yields to the threat, he does so for the reason which Epictetus gives, and freedom of choice, and consequently freedom of will really exists in this case. The Roman law did not allow contracts or agreements made under the influence of threats to be valid; and the reason for declaring them invalid was not the want of free will in him who yielded to the threat, but the fact that threats are directly contrary to the purpose of all law, which purpose is to secure the independent action of every person in all things allowed by law. This matter is discussed by Savigny, Das heut. Römische Recht, iii. § 114. See the title 'Quod metus causa,' in the Digest, 4, 2. Compare also Epictetus, iv. 1, 68, etc.
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