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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.
1 The title is περὶ τῆς χρείας τῶν μεταπιπτόντων καὶ ὑποθετικῶν καὶ τῶν ὁμοιων. Schweighaeuser has a big note on μεταπίπτοντες λόγοι, which he has collected from various critics. Mrs. Carter translated the title 'Of the Use of Convertible and Hypothetical Propositions and the like.' But “convertible” might be understood in the common logical sense, which is not the meaning of Epictetus. Schweighaeuser explains μεταπίπτοντες λόγοι to be sophistical arguments in which the meaning of propositions or of terms, which ought to remain the same, is dexterously changed and perverted to another meaning.
6 This, then, is a case of μεταπίπτοντες λόγοι (chap. vii. 1), where there has been a sophistical or dishonest change in the premises or in some term, by virtue of which change there appears to be a just conclusion, which, however, is false; and it is not a conclusion derived from the premises to which we assented. A ridiculous example is given by Seneca, Ep. 48: “Mus syllaba est: mus autem caseum rodit: syllaba ergo caseum rodit.” Seneca laughs at this absurdity, and says perhaps the following syllogism (collectio) may be a better example of acuteness: “Mus syllaba est: syllaba autem caseum non rodit: mus ergo caseum non rodit.” One is as good as the other. We know that neither conclusion is true, and we see where the error is. Ménage says that though the Stoics particularly cultivated logic, some of them despised it, and he mentions Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Antoninus. Upton, however, observes that Epictetus and Marcus Antoninus did not despise logic (he says nothing about Seneca), but employed it for their own purposes. It has been observed that if a man is asked whether, if every A is B, every B is also A, he might answer that it is. But if you put the conversion in this material form: “Every goose is an animal,” he immediately perceives that he cannot say, “Every animal is a goose.” What does this show? It shows that the man's comprehension of the proposition, every A is B, was not true, and that he took it to mean Something different from what the person intended who put the question. He understood that A and B were coextensive. Whether we call this reasoning or something else, makes no matter. A man whose understanding is sound cannot in the nature of things reason wrong; but his understanding of the matter on which he reasons may be wrong somewhere, and he may not be able to discover where. A man who has been trained in the logical art may show him that his conclusion is just according to his understanding of the terms and the propositions employed, but yet it is not true.
7 Rufus is Musonius Rufus (i. 1). To kill a father and to burn the Roman Capitol are mentioned as instances of the greatest crimes. Comp. Horace, Epode, iii.; Cicero, De Amicit. c. 11; Plutarch, Tib. Gracchus, c. 20.
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