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Epictetus

His Continuing Influence and Contemporary Relevance

Edited by Dane R. Gordon and David B. Suits

Publication Year: 2014

Epictetus (c. 50-c. 120 CE) was born a slave. His master, Epaphroditus, allowed him to attend the lectures of the Stoic philosopher Musonius Rufus and later gave him his freedom. From numerous references in his Discourses it is clear that Epictetus valued freedom as a precious possession. He would have been on the side of the many people living now who, while not actually enslaved, are denied true freedom by the harsh circumstances of their lives. Epictetus's teachings about freedom and human dignity have echoed through the millennia-in the writings of Spinoza, Thomas Paine and Martin Luther King, Jr., to name a few. He was much concerned with human behavior. His advice to not worry about what is not in our control is pointedly relevant to our busy modern society-which is often fraught with anxiety. Some people might argue that what Epictetus taught is not serious philosophy, more like self-help. But the range of topics addressed by the essays in this book clearly indicates that the teachings of Epictetus provide strong incentive to present day philosophical thinking.Epictetus: His Continuing Influence and Contemporary Relevance is the title of a conference on Epictetus held at Rochester Institute of Technology in April 2012, when many of the ideas in these essays were first presented.

Published by: RIT Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Acknowledgements

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pp. 7-8

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Introduction

Dane R. Gordon and David B. Suits

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pp. 9-14

In our initial discussions about whether or not to hold a conference on Epictetus, we wondered how much interest there was. Epictetus (c. 50–120 CE) is less well-known than other Stoics, and his teaching is not regarded by all scholars with unqualified esteem. W. A. Oldfather observes that because...

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1. Socrates, Heracles and the Deflation of Roles in Epictetus by Brian Earl Johnson

Brian Earl Johnson

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pp. 15-40

The Socrates of Plato’s Apology rather famously defends his life by arguing that he was stationed to be a kind of philosophical gadfly by the god at Delphi (Ap. 28d–29e, 30e, and 37e–38a). Plato’s Socrates defends his actions by reference to his own special station in life. Whereas Socrates expects others to...

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2. Foucault on Askesis in Epictetus: Freedom through Determination by Christopher Davidson

Christopher Davidson

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pp. 41-54

Michel Foucault turned to Classical and Hellenistic philosophy late in his career, a change of focus that surprised and was misunderstood by many at the time. Often, it is supposed that his aim was to find the “freedom” that he had allegedly excised from power relations. I would contend, instead, that Foucault’s...

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3. Taking the Same Things Seriously and Not Seriously: A Stoic Proposal on Value and the Good by Katja Maria Vogt

Katja Maria Vogt

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pp. 55-76

Matters of value—life, health, wealth, and so on—provide reasons for action, or so it is often assumed.3 Aiming to figure out what to do, the agent, it seems, must take these matters seriously. Does this translate into the claim that, when such things are attained or lost, the agent should be elated or distraught,...

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4. Epictetus’s Moral Epistemology by Jeffrey Fisher

Jeffrey J. Fisher

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pp. 77-88

This paper is an attempt to trace the outlines of Epictetus’s moral epistemology. The argument of the paper is that, in his conception of knowledge, Epictetus is an orthodox Stoic, upholding the main tenets of Stoic epistemology. Now I ultimately see this argument as a prolegomena to understanding...

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5. In Defense of Patience by Matthew Pianalto

Matthew Pianalto

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pp. 89-104

In recent philosophical discussions of the virtues, almost no sustained attention has been given to patience.1 This may be because even though patience is recognized as a virtue, it has been considered at best a minor virtue, the virtue of waiting well in checkout lines and so forth. This is to underestimate the scope...

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6. Epictetus on the Meaning of Names and on Comprehensive Impressions by Eleni Tsalla

Eleni Tsalla

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pp. 105-130

The context of Epictetus’s comments is a visit of a Roman citizen who, with his son, is attending Epictetus’s lecture. Epictetus appears reluctant to proceed with a demonstration of philosophical instruction. He reminds his visitor that the practice conducive to the learning of any art is boring to the uninitiated, even as...

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7. Kant and Epictetus. Transformations of Imperial Stoicism by Matthias Rothe

Matthias Rothe

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pp. 131-150

An affinity between Kant’s moral theory and Stoic ethics has often been noted and occasionally discussed, most recently by Maximilian Forschner (Oikeiosis), Julia Annas (Morality), Ulrike Santozki (Bedeutung antiker Theorien, 23–25), and Thomas Bénatouïl (Les Stoïciens, 92–96).1 What, though, is the nature...

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8. Self-Identity in Epictetus: Rationality and Role by Carrie L. Bates

Carrie L. Bates

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pp. 151-164

One goal of philosophers is to provide coherent, logically consistent answers to the questions with which they engage. Stoic philosophy, which flourished from about 300 BCE to CE 200, engages with the question of what constitutes the best life for a human being to live. Stoics posit happiness...

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9. Epictetus and Moral Apprehensive Impressions in Stoicism by Pavle Stojanovic

Pavle Stojanovic

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pp. 165-196

The only person who possesses knowledge and virtue, and whose every action is always morally right, is the Sage, the ideal person used by the Stoics as a paradigm in arguing for the possibility of achieving epistemic and moral perfection.1 The foundation for the Sage’s epistemic perfection was the so-called...

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10. The Curious Case of Epictetus’s Encheiridion 33.14–15 by Scott Aikin

Scott Aikin

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pp. 197-206

Epictetus consistently makes the case in the Encheiridion that the objectives of pleasing others and seeking their esteem are not relevant reasons for action or self-assessment...

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11. Epictetus on Beastly Vices and Animal Virtues by William O. Stephens

William O. Stephens

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pp. 207-240

The significance of animals in Epictetus’s Stoicism has yet to be explored in detail. Yet Epictetus’s views on nonhuman animals—or Nanimals, as I will call them—their traits, abilities, habits, and virtues, profoundly shape his view of what human beings are and what we ought to be. It is hardly surprising...

Index

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pp. 241-258

Contributors

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pp. 259-261


E-ISBN-13: 9781933360911
Print-ISBN-13: 9781933360904

Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 1 line drawing
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Philosophy Series