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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 Encheiridion, c. 8: 'Do not seek (wish) that things which take place shall take place as you desire, but desire that things which take place shall take place as they do, and you will live a tranquil life.'
2 Compare iii. 2. 4, iv. 8. 20. Antoninus (viii. 27) writes: 'There are three relations [between thee and other things]: the one to the body which surrounds thee; the second to the divine cause from which all things come to all; and the third to those who live with thee.' This is precise, true and practical. Those who object to 'the divine cause,' may write in place of it 'the nature and constitution of things;' for there is a constitution of things, which the philosopher attempts to. discover; and for most practical purposes, it is immaterial whether we say that it is of divine origin or has some other origin, or no origin can be discovered. The fact remains that a constitution of things exists; or, if that expression be not accepted, we may say that we conceive that it exists and we cannot help thinking so.
3 See i. 14. 13, ii. 8. 14. Socrates (Xen. Mem. i. 1. 19) said the same. That man should make himself like the Gods is said also by Antoninus, x. 8.—See Plato, De Legg. i. 4. (Upton.) When God is said to provide for all things, this is what the Greeks called πρόνοια, providence. (Epictetus, i. 16, iii. 17.) In the second of these passages there is a short answer to some objections made to Providence.Epictetus could only know or believe what God is by the observation of phaenomena; and he could only know what he supposed to be God's providence by observing his administration of the world and all that happens in it. Among other works of God is man, who possesses certain intellectual powers which enable him to form a judgment of God's works, and a judgment of man himself. Man has or is supposed to have certain moral sentiments, or a capacity of acquiring them in some way. On the supposition that all man's powers are the gift of God, man's power of judging what happens in the world under God's providence is the gift of God: and if he should not be satisfied with God's administration, we have the conclusion that man, whose powers are from God, condemns that administration which is also from God. Thus God and man, who is God's work, are in opposition to one another. If a man rejects the belief in a deity and in a providence, because of the contradictions and difficulties involved in this belief or supposed to be involved in it, and if he finds the contradictions and difficulties such as he cannot reconcile with his moral sentiments and judgments, he will be consistent in rejecting the notion of a deity and of providence. But he must also consistently admit that his moral sentiments and judgments are his own, and that he cannot say how he acquired them, or how he has any of the corporeal or intellectual powers which he is daily using. By the hypothesis they are not from God. All then that a man can say is that he has such powers.
4 See ii. 10, i. 17. 12, ii. 11. 4, etc. M. Antoninus, x. 8.
5 The original is 'to add the colophon,' which is a proverbial express- sion and signifies to give the last touch to a thing.
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