What do I care, he (Epictetus) says, whether all things are composed of atoms (ἀτόμων), or of similar parts (ὁμοιομερῶν) or of fire and earth? for is it not enough to know the nature of the good and the evil, and the measures (μέτρα) of the desires and the aversions (ἐκκλίσεων), and also the movements towards things and from them; and using these as rules to administer the affairs of life, but not to trouble ourselves about the things above us? For these things are perhaps incomprehensible to the human mind: and if any man should even suppose them to be in the highest degree comprehensible, what then is the profit of them, if they are comprehended? And must we not say that those men have needless trouble who assign these things as necessary to the philosopher's discourse? Is then also the precept written at Delphi superfluous, which is Know thyself? It is not so, he says. What then is the meaning of it? If a man gave to a choreutes (member of chorus) the precept to know himself, would he not have observed in the precept that he must direct his attention to himself?1
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Fragments of Epictetus
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