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The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness and Effectiveness

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Epictetus was born into slavery about 55 C.E. in the eastern outreaches of the Roman Empire. Sold as a child and crippled from the beatings of his master, Epictetus was eventually freed, rising from his humble roots to establish an influential school of Stoic philosophy. Stressing that human beings cannot control life, only how they respond to it, Epictetus dedicated his l Epictetus was born into slavery about 55 C.E. in the eastern outreaches of the Roman Empire. Sold as a child and crippled from the beatings of his master, Epictetus was eventually freed, rising from his humble roots to establish an influential school of Stoic philosophy. Stressing that human beings cannot control life, only how they respond to it, Epictetus dedicated his life to outlining the simple way to happiness, fulfillment, and tranquility. By putting into practice the ninety-three witty, wise, and razor-sharp instructions that make up The Art of Living, readers learn to successfully meet the challenges of everyday life and face life's inevitable losses and disappointments with grace. Epictetus's teachings rank among the greatest wisdom texts of human civilization. Sharon Lebell presents this esteemed philosopher's invaluable insights for the first time in a splendidly down-to-earth rendition. The result is the West's first and best primer for living the best possible life -- as helpful in the twenty-first century as it was in the first.


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Epictetus was born into slavery about 55 C.E. in the eastern outreaches of the Roman Empire. Sold as a child and crippled from the beatings of his master, Epictetus was eventually freed, rising from his humble roots to establish an influential school of Stoic philosophy. Stressing that human beings cannot control life, only how they respond to it, Epictetus dedicated his l Epictetus was born into slavery about 55 C.E. in the eastern outreaches of the Roman Empire. Sold as a child and crippled from the beatings of his master, Epictetus was eventually freed, rising from his humble roots to establish an influential school of Stoic philosophy. Stressing that human beings cannot control life, only how they respond to it, Epictetus dedicated his life to outlining the simple way to happiness, fulfillment, and tranquility. By putting into practice the ninety-three witty, wise, and razor-sharp instructions that make up The Art of Living, readers learn to successfully meet the challenges of everyday life and face life's inevitable losses and disappointments with grace. Epictetus's teachings rank among the greatest wisdom texts of human civilization. Sharon Lebell presents this esteemed philosopher's invaluable insights for the first time in a splendidly down-to-earth rendition. The result is the West's first and best primer for living the best possible life -- as helpful in the twenty-first century as it was in the first.

30 review for The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness and Effectiveness

  1. 5 out of 5

    Hadrian

    A little something to read on Thanksgiving. Maybe after this, I'll leaf through Seneca, then watch Charlie Brown or something. One of the big three stoics, with the authors being Marcus Aurelius and Seneca. Epictetus recieved no formal schooling, and was a slave for most of his life. No self-pity. Instead, independence, fearlessness, and acceptance of death and suffering. Self-rule and self-improvement. Forgiveness, acceptance, and understanding. Almost resembles some forms of Buddhis A little something to read on Thanksgiving. Maybe after this, I'll leaf through Seneca, then watch Charlie Brown or something. One of the big three stoics, with the authors being Marcus Aurelius and Seneca. Epictetus recieved no formal schooling, and was a slave for most of his life. No self-pity. Instead, independence, fearlessness, and acceptance of death and suffering. Self-rule and self-improvement. Forgiveness, acceptance, and understanding. Almost resembles some forms of Buddhism. In many ways, both are fatalistic, but this is not necessarily pessimism. Instead, there is peace. I typically find most 'self-help' books to be injurious, maybe even dangerous in their mindless positivity. If it is not too imperious, I would recommend the Stoics and their friends instead, for their mindful tranquility.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amir Tesla

    Stoic philosophy is concerned with preserving our serenity and happiness regardless of any situation or circumstances. Be it loosing your fame and wealth or you beloved ones ... This book which present the teachings of stoic philosopher "Epictetus", is filled with practical wisdom, many of which constitute the foundation of many books I've read or many sayings you and I have heard. Not only books and sayings, teachings of Epictetus I can't help but to notice is the foundation of promi Stoic philosophy is concerned with preserving our serenity and happiness regardless of any situation or circumstances. Be it loosing your fame and wealth or you beloved ones ... This book which present the teachings of stoic philosopher "Epictetus", is filled with practical wisdom, many of which constitute the foundation of many books I've read or many sayings you and I have heard. Not only books and sayings, teachings of Epictetus I can't help but to notice is the foundation of prominent fields such as "Cognitive Therapy" and "Positive Psychology". Stoic Philosophy, I've come to believe is an effective recipe for a happy and tranquil life. The thing that makes me more oriented towards stoic philosophy with respect to its similar Eastern teachings (Zen Buddhism) is their emphasis on employing logic and reason. -How do I live a happy, fulfilling life? -How can I be a good person? These were to questions with which Epictetus was obsessed and this book envelops his life-long earned wisdom to answer them. The art of living, embodies the teachings of Epictetus whose original material were presented in his works: "The Discourses" and "Enchiridion" while the translator aims at simplifying the language to capture the modern audience. Here are some nuggets of wisdom I found compelling: I. Know what you can control and what you can This principle is the essence of stoicism. There are things we have control over and things we do not (like our look, conditions are life, family etc.) and roots of suffering lies in focusing on the things we have no control over. II. Stick to your own business Focus your attention entirely on what is truly your own concern.You will be truly free and effective, for you efforts will be put to good use and won't be foolishly squandered finding fault with or opposing others.III. See things for what they are This is one of my favorites in which it is advised: Events happen as they do. People behave as they are. Embrace what you actually get.When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it; you can either accept it or resent it. What really frightens and dismays us is not external events themselves, but the way in which we think about them. It is not things that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance.IV. Events don't hurt us, but our views of them can We cannot choose our external circumstance, but we can always choose how we respond to them. VI. Make full use of what happens to you This is a great one. Each and every one of us have amazing potential laying dormant within us. The trials and hardships we endure can and should introduce us to our strength.On the occasion of an accidental event, don’t just react in a haphazard fashion: Remember to turn inward and ask what resources you have for dealing with it. Dig deeply. You possess strengths you might not realize you have. Find the right one. Use it VII. Confirm your wishes to reality Another favorite of mine.We are ultimately controlled by that which bestows what we seek or removes what we don’t want. If it’s freedom you seek, then wish nothing and shun nothing that depends on others, or you will always be a helpless slave.Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control ... VIII. No one can hurt you If someone irritates you, it is only your own response that is irritating you. Therefore, when anyone seems to be provoking you, remember that it is only your judgment of the incident that provokes you. Don't let your emotions get ignited by mere appearances. IX. Make the will of nature your own This is another major principle stoicism. Behaving in accordance with the will of nature. But what does it mean? We must first lean it, Study and pay attention to it then make it our own.The will of nature is revealed to us through everyday experiences common to all people. For example, if a neighbor’s child breaks a bowl, or some similar thing, we readily say, “These things happen.” When your own bowl breaks, you should respond in the same way as when another person’s bowl breaks..Remember how you feel when you hear the same thing concerning other people. Transfer that feeling to your own current circumstances. Learn to accept events, even death, with intelligence. X. Don't defend your reputation or intentions Don't be afraid of verbal abuse or criticism. Only the morally weak feel compelled to defent or explain themselves to others. Let the quality of your deeds speak on your behalf. XI. Other selected nuggets of wisdom - When we succumb to whining, we diminish our possibilities. - Arrogance is the banal mask for cowardice. - Clear thinking and self-importance cannot logically coexist. - Don't listen to what people say. Watch what they do and evaluate the attendant consequences. - Don't just say you have read books. Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person. - One of two things will happen when you socialize with others. You either become like your companions, or you bring them over to your own ways. - Forgive yourself over and over and over again. Then try to do better next time ... :) - Goodness in and of itself is the practice and the reward. The final word All in all, this was a book filled with timeless, practical wisdom, practice of which ensures, happiness, tranquility and prosperity. This book is a manual that must be at hand and reviewed from time to time. I profoundly enjoyed it and definitely recommend to all my beloved friends. Actually, I'm going to hunt down the translation of this book in Persian and give it as invaluable gift to my dear friends. Finally, bare in mind that "Living wisdom is more important than knowing about it."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Marcus

    Stoicism according to Epictetus, is: Don't demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do happen, and you will go on well. and: If you ever happen to turn your attention to externals, so as to wish to please anyone, be assured that you have ruined your scheme of life. My favorite quote, maybe because it's so personally relevant and so incisive, is, and bear with Epictetus, this one is a bit long-winded: In every affair consider what precedes and follows, and then unde/>In/> Stoicism according to Epictetus, is: Don't demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do happen, and you will go on well. and: If you ever happen to turn your attention to externals, so as to wish to please anyone, be assured that you have ruined your scheme of life. My favorite quote, maybe because it's so personally relevant and so incisive, is, and bear with Epictetus, this one is a bit long-winded: In every affair consider what precedes and follows, and then undertake it. Otherwise you will begin with spirit; but not having thought of the consequences, when some of them appear you will shamefully desist. "I would conquer at the Olympic games." But consider what precedes and follows, and then, if it is for your advantage, engage in the affair. You must conform to rules, submit to a diet, refrain from dainties; exercise your body, whether you choose it or not, at a stated hour, in heat and cold; you must drink no cold water, nor sometimes even wine. [...:] When you have evaluated all this, if your inclination still holds, then go to war. Otherwise, take notice, you will behave like children who sometimes play like wrestlers, sometimes gladiators, sometimes blow a trumpet, and sometimes act a tragedy when they have seen and admired these shows. Thus you too will be at one time a wrestler, at another a gladiator, now a philosopher, then an orator; but with your whole soul, nothing at all. Like an ape, you mimic all you see, and one thing after another is sure to please you, but is out of favor as soon as it becomes familiar. At other times, his advice is a little harder to swallow: If, for example, you are fond of a specific ceramic cup, remind yourself that it is only ceramic cups in general of which you are fond. Then, if it breaks, you will not be disturbed. If you kiss your child, or your wife, say that you only kiss things which are human, and thus you will not be disturbed if either of them dies. The overall approach to life reminds me a lot of Eastern philosophy's non-striving which I've found to be practical and beneficial. I think Epictetus captures well the balance between a complete lack of ambition and allowing ambition and materialism to consume you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    Great read. Felt like I highlighted practically the entire book: First, say to yourself what you would be; then do what you have to do. Keep your attention focused entirely on what is truly your own concern, and be clear that what belongs to others is their business and none of yours. If you do this, you will be impervious to coercion and no one can ever hold you back. You will be truly free and effective, for your efforts will be put to good use and won't be foolishly squa Great read. Felt like I highlighted practically the entire book: First, say to yourself what you would be; then do what you have to do. Keep your attention focused entirely on what is truly your own concern, and be clear that what belongs to others is their business and none of yours. If you do this, you will be impervious to coercion and no one can ever hold you back. You will be truly free and effective, for your efforts will be put to good use and won't be foolishly squandered finding fault with or opposing others. In knowing and attending to what actually concerns you, you cannot be made to do anything against your will; others can't hurt you, you don't incur enemies or suffer harm. Things themselves don't hurt or hinder us. Nor do other people. How we view these things is another matter. It is our attitudes and reactions that give us trouble. Therefore even death is no big deal in and of itself. It is our notion of death, our idea that it is terrible, that terrifies us. There are so many different ways to think about death. Scrutinize your notions about death—and everything else. Are they really true? Are they doing you any good? Don't dread death or pain; dread the fear of death or pain. Small-minded people habitually reproach others for their own misfortunes. Average people reproach themselves. Those who are dedicated to a life of wisdom understand that the impulse to blame something or someone is foolishness, that there is nothing to be gained in blaming, whether it be others or oneself. Small-minded people habitually reproach others for their own misfortunes. Average people reproach themselves. Those who are dedicated to a life of wisdom understand that the impulse to blame something or someone is foolishness, that there is nothing to be gained in blaming, whether it be others or oneself. Never depend on the admiration of others. There is no strength in it. Personal merit cannot be derived from an external source. It is not to be found in your personal associations, nor can it be found in the regard of other people. It is a fact of life that other people, even people who love you, will not necessarily agree with your ideas, understand you, or share your enthusiasms. Grow up! Who cares what other people think about you! It's much better to die of hunger unhindered by grief and fear than to live affluently beset with worry, dread, suspicion, and unchecked desire. Spiritual progress requires us to highlight what is essential and to disregard everything else as trivial pursuits unworthy of our attention. Moreover, it is actually a good thing to be thought foolish and simple with regard to matters that don't concern us. Don't be concerned with other people's impressions of you. They are dazzled and deluded by appearances. Stick with your purpose. This alone will strengthen your will and give your life coherence. Refrain from trying to win other people's approval and admiration. You are taking a higher road. Don't long for others to see you as sophisticated, unique, or wise. In fact, be suspicious if you appear to others as someone special. Be on your guard against a false sense of self-importance. As you think, so you become. Avoid superstitiously investing events with power or meanings they don't have. Keep your head. Our busy minds are forever jumping to conclusions, manufacturing and interpreting signs that aren't there. Assume, instead, that everything that happens to you does so for some good. That if you decided to be lucky, you are lucky. All events contain an advantage for you — if you look for it! Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. Your happiness depends on three things, all of which are within your power: your will, your ideas concerning the events in which you are involved, and the use you make of your ideas. Implant in Yourself the Ideals You Ought to Cherish Attach yourself to what is spiritually superior, regardless of what other people think or do. Hold to your true aspirations no matter what is going on around you. Many people who have progressively lowered their personal standards in an attempt to win social acceptance and life's comforts bitterly resent those of philosophical bent who refuse to compromise their spiritual ideals and who seek to better themselves. Never live your life in reaction to these diminished souls. Be compassionate toward them, and at the same time hold to what you know is good. Evil does not naturally dwell in the world, in events, or in people. Evil is a by-product of forgetfulness, laziness, or distraction: it arises when we lose sight of our true aim in life. When we remember that our aim is spiritual progress, we return to striving to be our best selves. This is how happiness is won. If someone were to casually give your body away to any old passerby, you would naturally be furious. Why then do you feel no shame in giving your precious mind over to any person who might wish to influence you? Think twice before you give up your own mind to someone who may revile you, leaving you confused and upset. A half-hearted spirit has no power. Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes. Average people enter into their endeavors headlong and without care. Just as certain capacities are required for success in a particular area, so too are certain sacrifices required. If you wish to become proficient in the art of living with wisdom, do you think that you can eat and drink to excess? Do you think you can continue to succumb to anger and your usual habits of frustration and unhappiness? No. If true wisdom is your object and you are sincere, you will have work to do on yourself. You will have to overcome many unhealthy cravings and knee-jerk reactions. You will have to reconsider whom you associate with. Are your friends and associates worthy people? Does their influence—their habits, values, and behavior—elevate you or reinforce the slovenly habits from which you seek escape? The life of wisdom, like anything else, demands its price. You may, in following it, be ridiculed and even end up with the worst of everything in all parts of your public life, including your career, your social standing, and your legal position in the courts. You can either put your skills toward internal work or lose yourself to externals, which is to say, be a person of wisdom or follow the common ways of the mediocre. Most people tend to delude themselves into thinking that freedom comes from doing what feels good or what fosters comfort and ease. The truth is that people who subordinate reason to their feelings of the moment are actually slaves of their desires and aversions. They are ill-prepared to act effectively and nobly when unexpected challenges occur, as they inevitably will. Authentic freedom places demands on us. In discovering and comprehending our fundamental relations to one another and zestfully performing our duties, true freedom, which all people long for, is indeed possible. The wise person knows it is fruitless to project hopes and fears on the future. This only leads to forming melodramatic representations in your mind and wasting time. At the same time, one shouldn't passively acquiesce to the future and what it holds. Simply doing nothing does not avoid risk, but heightens it. First and foremost, think before you speak to make sure you are speaking with good purpose. Glib talk disrespects others. Breezy self-disclosure disrespects yourself. So many people feel compelled to give voice to any passing feeling, thought, or impression they have. They randomly dump the contents of their minds without regard to the consequences. This is practically and morally dangerous. If we babble about every idea that occurs to us —big and small—we can easily fritter away in the trivial currents of mindless talk ideas that have true merit. Unchecked speech is like a vehicle wildly lurching out of control and destined for a ditch. It's not necessary to restrict yourself to lofty subjects or philosophy all the time, but be aware that the common babbling that passes for worthwhile discussion has a corrosive effect on your higher purpose. When we blather about trivial things, we ourselves become trivial, for our attention gets taken up with trivialities. You become what you give your attention to. Most of what passes for legitimate entertainment is inferior or foolish and only caters to or exploits people's weaknesses. Avoid being one of the mob who indulges in such pastimes. Your life is too short and you have important things to do. Be discriminating about what images and ideas you permit into your mind. If you yourself don't choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will, and their motives may not be the highest. It is the easiest thing in the world to slide imperceptibly into vulgarity. But there's no need for that to happen if you determine not to waste your time and attention on mindless pap. Respect your body’s needs. Give your body excellent care to promote its health and well-being. Give it everything it absolutely requires, including healthy food and drink, dignified clothing, and a warm and comfortable home. Do not, however, use your body as an occasion for show or luxury. Abstain from casual sex and particularly avoid sexual intercourse before you get married. This may sound prudish or old-fashioned, but it is a time-tested way by which we demonstrate respect for ourselves and others. Sex is not a game. It gives rise to very real enduring emotional and practical consequences. To ignore this is to debase yourself, and to disregard the significance of human relationships. If, however, you know someone who has had casual sex, don't self-righteously try to win them over to your own views. An active sex life within a framework of personal commitment augments the integrity of the people involved and is part of a flourishing life. Don't be afraid of verbal abuse or criticism. Only the morally weak feel compelled to defend or explain themselves to others. Let the quality of your deeds speak on your behalf. We can't control the impressions others form about us, and the effort to do so only debases our character. So, if anyone should tell you that a particular person has spoken critically of you, don't bother with excuses or defenses. Just smile and reply, "I guess that person doesn't know about all my other faults. Otherwise, he wouldn't have mentioned only these." Once you have deliberated and determined that a course of action is wise, never discredit your judgment. Stand squarely behind your decision. Chances are there may indeed be people who misunderstand your intentions and who may even condemn you. But if, according to your best judgment, you are acting rightly, you have nothing to fear. Take a stand. Once we fall, however slightly, into immoderation, momentum gathers and we can be lost to whim. Inner Excellence Matters More Than Outer Appearance Females are especially burdened by the attention they receive for their pleasing appearance. From the time they are young, they are flattered by males or evaluated only in terms of their outward appearance. Unfortunately, this can make a woman feel suited only to give men pleasure, and her true inner gifts sadly atrophy. She may feel compelled to put great effort and time into enhancing her outer beauty and distorting her natural self to please others. Sadly, many people—both men and women — place all their emphasis on managing their physical appearance and the impression they make on others. Those who seek wisdom come to understand that even though the world may reward us for wrong or superficial reasons, such as our physical appearance, the family we come from, and so on, what really matters is who we are inside and who we are becoming. Put your principles into practice —now. Stop the excuses and the procrastination. This is your life! You aren't a child anymore. The sooner you set yourself to your spiritual program, the happier you will be. The longer you wait, the more you will be vulnerable to mediocrity and feel filled with shame and regret, because you know you are capable of better. From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself. Separate yourself from the mob. Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do— now. Inner confusion and evil itself spring from ambiguity. The first steps toward wisdom are the most strenuous, because our weak and stubborn souls dread exertion (without absolute guarantee of reward) and the unfamiliar. As you progress in your efforts, your resolve is fortified and self-improvement progressively comes easier. By and by it actually becomes difficult to work counter to your own best interest. Trust nothing and nobody but yourself. Be ceaselessly watchful over your beliefs and impulses. Take care not to casually discuss matters that are of great importance to you with people who are not important to you. Your affairs will become drained of preciousness. You undercut your own purposes when you do this. This is especially dangerous when you are in the early stages of an undertaking. Other people feast like vultures on our ideas. They take it upon themselves to blithely interpret, judge, and twist what matters most to you, and your heart sinks. Let your ideas and plans incubate before you parade them in front of the naysayers and trivializers. Most people only know how to respond to an idea by pouncing on its shortfalls rather than identifying its potential merits. Practice self-containment so that your enthusiasm won't be frittered away.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Vaishali

    I maintain the oldest writings are the absolute best. A fantastic collection of 52 maxims (#29 seems to be missing), as timeless as they are wise. Some quotes: ----------- #1. Some things are in our control and others are not. Work, therefore, to be able to say to every harsh appearance, “You are but an appearance, and not absolutely the thing you appear to be.” #5. Do not be proud of any excellence that is not yours. If a horse thinks “I am handsome”, that is acceptable. But if I maintain the oldest writings are the absolute best. A fantastic collection of 52 maxims (#29 seems to be missing), as timeless as they are wise. Some quotes: ----------- #1. Some things are in our control and others are not. Work, therefore, to be able to say to every harsh appearance, “You are but an appearance, and not absolutely the thing you appear to be.” #5. Do not be proud of any excellence that is not yours. If a horse thinks “I am handsome”, that is acceptable. But if you the owner boasts “I have a handsome horse”, know that you are elated only on the merit of the horse. Take pride, then, only in some good of your own. #8. Do not demand that things happen as you wish. Wish them to happen as they do happen, and you will be well. #9. Sickness is an impediment to the body, but not to the will… Say this with regard to everything. #11. Never say of anything “I lost it”. Say instead “I restored it.” Has your child died? It is restored. Someone else permits you to have it, so hold it as if it is not yours, like travelers at an inn. #12. Say to yourself, “This is the price paid for peace and tranquility, and nothing is free.” #15. Always behave like you are at a banquet. Take a moderate share. Has something not come yet? Do not yearn for it; wait for it to come to you. #16. You are an actor in a drama. If you should enact a poor man, see that you act it well… or a cripple, or a ruler, or a private citizen. #18. Say “Whatever happens, it is up to me to derive advantage from it.” #26. "When the neighbor’s boy has broken a cup, you at once say “Such things happen.” When your own cup breaks, you should react likewise. Apply this to bigger things. Has another’s wife or child died? All say “That’s life.” But when our own child dies, why say “How wretched am I!” ? #27. A target is not set up for the goal of missing an aim. #30. Another cannot hurt you, unless you so please. #32. First clearly understand that every event is indifferent, and nothing to you, for it is always in your power to make right use of it, and this no one can hinder. #33. Begin by prescribing to yourself some character or demeanor that you may preserve both alone and in company. Be mostly silent, speaking only what is needful, in a few words. Avoid public and vulgar entertainment. Be assured that a throughly pure person can be contaminated by conversing with a corrupt person. It is unnecessary to make public appearances, but if you must, do not appear solicitous for anything other than yourself. Wish only that things be as they are, and that the best man wins. In society, avoid frequently mentioning your actions. #38. While walking we are careful not to step on a nail or sprain our foot, so likewise take care not to hurt the ruling faculty of the mind. If we were to guard against this in each act, we’d enter events more safely. #41. Is is a mark of the inferior intellect to spend too much time on the body, being immoderate in exercise, eating, drinking, and other animalistic functions. Such things should be done incidentally, and our main strength applied to reason. #44. These statements have no interrelation: “I am richer than you, thus your superior.” “I am more eloquent than you, thus your superior.” The true, logical connections are : “I am richer than you, thus my possessions must exceed yours.” “I am more eloquent than you, thus my style must exceed yours.” But you yourself consist of neither property nor style. #55. Does anyone drink too much? Do not say that he does ill, but that he drinks a great deal. For unless you perfectly understand his motives, how can you know if he acts ill? Thus you will not risk yielding to any appearances that you do not fully comprehend. #56. Do not make much talk among the ignorant about your principles, but show them in action. For sheep do not vomit grass to show the shepherd how much they’ve eaten, but inwardly digest food and outwardly produce wool and milk. #47. Consider how more frugal the poor are than we, how much more patient of hardship. #50. Do not regard what anyone says of you; it is no concern of yours. What other master do you await as an excuse for delaying self-reformation? You will be negligent and slothful, always adding procrastination to procrastination, purpose to purpose, empty day after empty day, and thus you will accomplish nothing, living and dying and of vulgar mind. This instant, then, think yourself an adult. Make whatever appears to be the best an inviolable law. .

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jake Adelstein

    No man is free who is not master of himself. -Epictetus It's something worth remembering on the 4th of July. Independence Day. "Forgive Over and Over and Over.""Never suppress a generous impulse." One of the greatest books of philosophy I've ever read. It is more of a reinterpretation of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus than a straight academic translation but it wonderfully conveys the wisdom of a a great philosopher who was born a slave. If you ever find yourself at a point in your life wh No man is free who is not master of himself. -Epictetus It's something worth remembering on the 4th of July. Independence Day. "Forgive Over and Over and Over.""Never suppress a generous impulse." One of the greatest books of philosophy I've ever read. It is more of a reinterpretation of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus than a straight academic translation but it wonderfully conveys the wisdom of a a great philosopher who was born a slave. If you ever find yourself at a point in your life when everything is out of your control, this book is wonderfully soothing. We can't control all the events in our lives, but we can choose how we react to them. Sometimes, that's the only freedom we have left. This was my favorite passage in the entire book. I've pondered it often. Of course, there are some people it's very hard to forgive. Usually when they try to have you killed it does put a strain on one's generosity but in ordinary circumstances sound advice. FORGIVE OVER AND OVER AND OVER Generally, we're all doing the best we can. When someone speaks to you curtly, disregards what you say, performs what seems to be a thoughtless gesture or even an outright evil act, think to yourself, "If I were that person and had endured the same trials, borne the same heartbreaks, had the same parents, and so on, I probably would have done or said the same thing." We are not privy to the stories behind people's actions, so we should be patient with others and suspend our judgment of them, recognizing the limits of our understanding. It does not mean we condone evil deeds or endorse the idea that different actions carry the same moral weight. When people do not act as you would wish them to, exercise the muscles of your good nature by shrugging your shoulders and saying to yourself "Oh well." Then let the incident go. Try, also, to be as kind to yourself as possible. Do not measure yourself against others or even against your ideal self. Human betterment is a gradual, two-steps-forward, one-step-back effort. Forgive others for their misdeeds over and over again. This gesture fosters inner peace. Forgive yourself over and over and over again. Then try to do better next the time.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jon(athan) Nakapalau

    Better than any self help book available today - so very powerful because of the simplicity of the message - focus only on that which you can control and avoid control over that which is beyond you influence.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Smitha Murthy

    I haven’t really read much of Stoicism, and as the author of this new interpretation of Epictetus’ teachings, Sharon Lebell says, Stoicism has been given a bit of a bad rap. Or rather, all sorts of misunderstood memes. In this beautiful interpretation that is adapted to the modern, Western style of living, Lebell takes us through the basic tenets of what Epictetus taught: To lead a life of reason, grace, dignity, kindness, and virtue. Those are values we can do well in life irrespective of wheth I haven’t really read much of Stoicism, and as the author of this new interpretation of Epictetus’ teachings, Sharon Lebell says, Stoicism has been given a bit of a bad rap. Or rather, all sorts of misunderstood memes. In this beautiful interpretation that is adapted to the modern, Western style of living, Lebell takes us through the basic tenets of what Epictetus taught: To lead a life of reason, grace, dignity, kindness, and virtue. Those are values we can do well in life irrespective of whether you subscribe to Stoicism or not. If you have shied away from understanding Stoicism because you thought it was too ‘dry,’ this book is a wonderful companion to aiding that understanding. Simple, clear, and to the heart, you can make this a wonderful introduction to understanding a bit more of the world around and within us.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Samy

    Epictetus is a less popular stoic than Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, and I didn’t read his works for a long time. This book was my first introduction to his wisdom, and while Seneca may be clearer in his writing, there are certain gems that Epictetus brings to the table that even Seneca and M.Aurelius aren’t able to produce. Seneca puts great emphasis on the shortness of life, tranquility, and being above suffering. Marcus Aurelius looks at the bigger picture, and the idea that we don’t have compl Epictetus is a less popular stoic than Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, and I didn’t read his works for a long time. This book was my first introduction to his wisdom, and while Seneca may be clearer in his writing, there are certain gems that Epictetus brings to the table that even Seneca and M.Aurelius aren’t able to produce. Seneca puts great emphasis on the shortness of life, tranquility, and being above suffering. Marcus Aurelius looks at the bigger picture, and the idea that we don’t have complete control of our lives. Epictetus is more practical, sharing ideas on how to behave with the stoic philosophies in mind. He gives several ideas on how one should behave in different scenarios. Here are some quotes from the book which I particularly enjoyed: “You must know then that when your cup also is broken, you ought to think as you did when your neigh-bor’s cup was broken. Transfer this reflection to greater things also. Is another man’s child or wife dead? There is no one who would not say, this is an event incident to man. But when a man’s own child or wife is dead, forthwith he calls out, Wo to me, how wretched I am.” “Avoid banquets which are given by strangers and by ignorant persons. But if ever there is occasion to join in them, let your attention be carefully fixed, that you slip not into the manners of the vulgar (the uninstructed). For you must know, that if your companion be impure, he also who keeps company with him must become impure, though he should happen to be pure." “Do not talk much about what has passed on the stage, except about that which may lead to your own improvement." “It is a mark of a mean capacity to spend much time on the things which concern the body, such as much exercise, much eating, much drinking, much easing of the body, much copulation. But these things should be done as subordinate things: and let all your care be directed to the mind. “ “But you are neither possession nor speech. “ “The condition and characteristic of an uninstructed person is this: he never expects from himself profit (advantage) nor harm, but from externals. The condition and characteristic of a philosopher is this: he expects all advantage and all harm from himself." “If a man praises him, he ridicules the praiser to himself” “Remember that now is the contest, now are the Olympic games, and they cannot be deferred; and that it depends on one defeat and one giving way that progress is either lost or maintained.” “A man ought to know that it is not easy for him to have an opinion (or fixed principle), if he does not daily say the same things, and hear the same things, and at the same time apply them to life.” [Lampis the shipowner being asked how he acquired his wealth, answered, With no difficulty, my great wealth; but my small wealth (my first gains), with much labor.] he teaches and urges on with more vehemence him who resists reason and law. “As the sun does not wait for prayers and incantations to be induced to rise, but immediately shines and is saluted by all: so do you also not wait for clappings of hands, and shouts and praise to be induced to do good, but be a doer of good voluntarily, and you will be beloved as much as the sun.” “Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope.” Wonderful, he said, are men, who are neither willing to live nor to die. “Crows devour the eyes of the dead, when the dead have no longer need of them. But flatterers destroy the souls of the living and blind their eyes.” “A man should choose (pursue) not every pleasure, but the pleasure which leads to goodness.” Pleasure, like a kind of bait, is thrown before (in front of) everything which is really bad, and easily allures greedy souls to the hook of perdition. Think of God more frequently than you breathe. God stands by as an inspector, you will never err (do wrong) in all your prayers and in all your acts, but you will have God dwelling with you. As it is pleasant to see the sea from the land, so it is pleasant for him who has escaped from troubles to think of them. Law intends indeed to do service to human life, but it is not able when men do not choose to accept her services; for it is only in those who are obedient to her that she displays her special virtue. Nature has given to men one tongue, but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak. If you wish to live a life free from sorrow, think of what is going to happen as if it had already happened. It is not good for him who has been well taught to talk among the untaught, as it is not right for him who is sober to talk among those who are drunk.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bob Nichols

    Favorable commentary on Epictetus lodges this collection of sayings within a wider, deeper Stoic philosophy. In a nutshell, the cosmos operates by natural law that is beyond our control. Things in the cosmos are transitory and permanent attachment is not possible. The task for the Stoic philosopher, such as Epictetus, is to focus only on those actions that are within one's power to control and to act without attachment. This is the law of the cosmos that we know through our rationality, which be Favorable commentary on Epictetus lodges this collection of sayings within a wider, deeper Stoic philosophy. In a nutshell, the cosmos operates by natural law that is beyond our control. Things in the cosmos are transitory and permanent attachment is not possible. The task for the Stoic philosopher, such as Epictetus, is to focus only on those actions that are within one's power to control and to act without attachment. This is the law of the cosmos that we know through our rationality, which becomes the guide for our actions and the source of our wisdom. Cultivation of reason and cultivation of actions that are in accord with the law of the cosmos is, therefore, the path to personal happiness. The problem with this approach is apparent in this sample of Epictetus' philosophy. First, his widely regarded practical philosophy leans heavily on social manners and making a good impression ("let not your laughter be much...nor excessive.") The self thereby adjusts to external standards, but this conformity leads to the loss of individuality. Second, and similarly, truth is secondary to keeping peace with others ("defer to opinions of superiors" and "agree with equals...to avoid quarrelsomeness".) Third, in accentuating the highest human virtue, reason, our animal emotions are not just to be controlled, but denied (We should punish our appetites;we should not suffer mentally with another; and we should accept death of a loved one as part of the order of things). Self-denial and cutting off feelings toward another or toward ourselves may be denying a deeper essence to our humanity and may not be conducive to our psychological health. Fourth, his philosophy leads to a slave mentality. Imposition on the self is accepted because it's the order of things. Resignation and acceptance not active resistance is the advice of Epictetus. Fifth, he has an uneasy relationship with things of the world. One can desire, but not desire too much. Reason puts the break on attachment. What this says about love - and holding oneself back - is one concern. But, importantly, an obvious question is why should the self not want what the self wants? Intuitively, we sense a contradiction here that makes his philosophical advice unconvincing. What is missing in Epictetus is an acceptance of a vigorous circuit of energy between the self and the world. Epictetus either holds the self back from the world or merges the self too much with it. He appropriately tells us that we have two things in our power: Our movement toward the world (desire) and our movement away from the world (aversion). This means the self is free to engage that world and to resist that world when it imposes on the self. The imposition of others on the self denies the self's freedom to pursue objects of desire and, therefore, the self's power to control its own destiny. Likewise, to impose the self on others is to deny their freedom. Reason, combined with socially imposed controls, keeps self and other in balance. Individuality is compatible with order. It's o.k. to seek objects of desire. Self-denial is counter to our desiring nature and denial of our feelings denies us of what is real inside and denies us of our humanity. The restraint on our desire comes from a recognition that it must not come at the expense of the other. There's an implicit social contract that lies at the heart of the self-other relationship. This circuit of energy between the self and the world is an active and reciprocal relationship, and it also reflects nature's law.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    This short and simple work of stoic philosophy is as valid as when it was first penned two thousand years ago. Epictetus started life as a Greek slave, but wound up in Rome. His Enchiridion distinguishes sharply between those things we can control and those we cannot:Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our owcannot:Some This short and simple work of stoic philosophy is as valid as when it was first penned two thousand years ago. Epictetus started life as a Greek slave, but wound up in Rome. His Enchiridion distinguishes sharply between those things we can control and those we cannot:Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.This type of stoicism requires reserves of strength most people do not have, as when they discover they have pancreatic cancer, or their beloved son has died, or they are slandered and have their reputations under attack. He continues:Work, therefore, to be able to say to every harsh appearance, "You are but an appearance, and not absolutely the thing you appear to be." And then examine it by those rules which you have, and first and chiefly, by this: whether it concerns the things which are in our own control, or those which are not; and, if it concerns anything not in our control, be prepared to say that it is nothing to you.Who is heroic enough to live like this? If I were, I would be immune to most if not all of the pain that human life is heir to.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Luciana Nery

    The opening line reads like a secular mantra: "Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and in one word, whatever are not our actions". Further along, what to do with this realization: "Work, therefore, to be able to say to every harsh appearance, "You are but an appearance, and not absolutely th The opening line reads like a secular mantra: "Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and in one word, whatever are not our actions". Further along, what to do with this realization: "Work, therefore, to be able to say to every harsh appearance, "You are but an appearance, and not absolutely the thing you appear to be". And then examine it by those rules which you have, and first, and chiefly, buy this: whether it concerns the things which are in our own control, or those which are not: and, if it concerns anything not in our control, be prepared to say that it is nothing to you." In short, what Epictetus is saying is: be indifferent to what you can't control. Do not allow yourself to be harmed by what you can't control, then you will be strong and resilience, because no adversity that was not your doing can possibly hurt you. The Enchiridion is nothing short of a guide for good living. It is also an excellent translation (I have sampled other versions and they ranged from incomprehensible to boring). Excellent book, one I'll be rereading often.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Scriptor Ignotus

    When I found this book in the library, I was put off by the fact that it is described on the cover as "a new interpretation by Sharon Lebell". I can only assume that to mean that this is not so much a translation of Epictetus's words as it is Sharon Lebell's interpretation of what Epictetus meant. With all due respect to her, if given the choice i'd much rather read Epictetus's actual work and interpret it for myself, thanks. That said, even though it is difficult to know how faithful this "interpreta When I found this book in the library, I was put off by the fact that it is described on the cover as "a new interpretation by Sharon Lebell". I can only assume that to mean that this is not so much a translation of Epictetus's words as it is Sharon Lebell's interpretation of what Epictetus meant. With all due respect to her, if given the choice i'd much rather read Epictetus's actual work and interpret it for myself, thanks. That said, even though it is difficult to know how faithful this "interpretation" is to Epictetus's actual writings, the teachings described within this book align well with the tenets of Stoic ethical philosophy. We are told to use reason to guide us and give us the all-encompassing, objective perspective on things that will make us more accepting of ourselves and others. We are instructed to follow virtue as its own reward, and to not get caught up in chasing the vanities of wealth and power, however much they are celebrated by the culture around us. One chapter makes the interesting point that as social animals, we naturally align our values and temperament with those of the people around us. It is therefore wise for one to be guarded and selective about the people one should take on as one's companions, and the extent to which one engages in the type of idle banter that often slides into frivolity or even mean-spiritedness towards others. These are all perfectly good and valuable teachings--provided that they actually are Epictetus's teachings, and not merely Sharon Lebell's. At any rate, this seems a good enough text in which one can dip one's toes in Stoic ethics; but the journey certainly should not stop here.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Betül

    Having read this thin-volumed book, i am sure that i am not closer to attain the wisdom. But while reading, it comes as so easy to apply these advices : " accept the commanding power of nature, make it your own willpower, do your businnes, do not think about what you can not control..."The book consists of recommendations like these about attaining wisdom. Still, these are so valuable, especially Epictetus thoughts about freedom that it's not about doing whatever we want, instead it's about appr Having read this thin-volumed book, i am sure that i am not closer to attain the wisdom. But while reading, it comes as so easy to apply these advices : " accept the commanding power of nature, make it your own willpower, do your businnes, do not think about what you can not control..."The book consists of recommendations like these about attaining wisdom. Still, these are so valuable, especially Epictetus thoughts about freedom that it's not about doing whatever we want, instead it's about appreciating limitations and learning to live effectively with these. I think the recommendations lack in motivating reader; you appreciate them yet you are not willing to do what you appreciate. It simplifies many things that we ruminate about too much so it may be more helpful to us in protecting our mental health and coping with daily hassles instead of attaining wisdom.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Erick

    There isn't much here that one could take issue with. Epictetus' pithy take on morals and ethics is not that far removed from that of the New Testament.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Peter J.

    I have read this probably 5 times. Looking forward to discussing it in heaven with him since he will surely be there.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Jones

    This is the first time I have read Epictetus, or any work of stoic philosophy for that matter, so if you are looking for an expert opinion you might want to look elsewhere. If, however, you are interested in reading Epictetus for the first time yourself then my little review might be of some use. I was impressed by the degree to which the thoughts expressed in this book could be applied in modern daily life. Epictetus believed that for philosophy to have any real value it had to be put int This is the first time I have read Epictetus, or any work of stoic philosophy for that matter, so if you are looking for an expert opinion you might want to look elsewhere. If, however, you are interested in reading Epictetus for the first time yourself then my little review might be of some use. I was impressed by the degree to which the thoughts expressed in this book could be applied in modern daily life. Epictetus believed that for philosophy to have any real value it had to be put into action to create a more noble life for its practitioner. His unrelenting insistence on the practical application of philosophy should be refreshing to contemporary readers who have come to regard philosophy as more of a way of understanding the world than a way of living in it. I came to the book with the notion that Stoicism meant acceptance of the world, and while Epictetus does preach acceptance of those things over which we have no control, he also emphasises the importance of doing the best we can in those areas in which we do have control. It is a very practical book, particularly for people like me who will stew for hours about the moron who cut me off in traffic. I do have a few reservations. One the one hand Epictetus cautions against us attaching values to actions or events, but would have us understand that these thing are simply what they are. We should not say they are either good nor evil. Yet he also believes that "things happen for a reason" and that reason seems to be part of the plan of a universal force - in other words events do have a moral component. This seems to be a contradiction of his earlier "events have no meaning outside of themselves" ascertation. It also smacks uncomfortably of "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds." I also found the translation by Sharon Lebell jarring at times. While I appreciate the difficulty in making an 1800 year old text accessible to modern readers, I got the distinct impression that I was reading a "Good News Bible" version of Epictetus. Did she really need to put the words "don't be the class clown" in his mouth? The inclusion of many modern phrases was intrusive. Still, as an introduction to both Epictetus and stoic philosophy, I believe this book is a great place to start.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jacobi

    As much a classic work of philosophy, as it is a treatise on how to live (as a stoic), the Enchiridion is dope. Because this is essentially a list of rules that is the length of an extended essay, I'll be rereading it (probably multiple times) to digest it further. Sure, there are some principles I don't subscribe to, but there is a lot of good stuff in this to mull over. I think it's interesting that something that was written more than 1,880 years ago can still be applicable to life today, as As much a classic work of philosophy, as it is a treatise on how to live (as a stoic), the Enchiridion is dope. Because this is essentially a list of rules that is the length of an extended essay, I'll be rereading it (probably multiple times) to digest it further. Sure, there are some principles I don't subscribe to, but there is a lot of good stuff in this to mull over. I think it's interesting that something that was written more than 1,880 years ago can still be applicable to life today, as it was back then. The more things change... My favorite bit from Enchiridion is the quote that's been floating around the internet, and the reason I read this in the first place: "How long will you wait to think yourself worthy of the highest and transgress in nothing the clear pronouncement of reason? You have received the precepts which you ought to accept, and you have accepted them. Why then do you still wait for a master, that you may delay the amendment of yourself till he comes? You are a youth no longer; you are now a full-grown man. If now you are careless and indolent and are always putting off, fixing one day after another as the limit when you mean to begin attending to yourself, then, living or dying, you will make no progress but will continue unawares in ignorance. Therefore make up your mind before it is too late to live as one who is mature and proficient, and let all that seems best to you be a law that you cannot transgress. And if you encounter anything troublesome or pleasant or glorious or inglorious, remember that the hour of struggle is come, the Olympic contest is here and you may put off no longer, and that one day one action determines whether the progress you have achieved is lost or maintained."

  19. 4 out of 5

    B. P. Rinehart

    "If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, "He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone." This philosophical text is a collection of 52 quotes or sayings or advice by Epictetus. It has been collected by one of his students and is presented as almost a proto-handbook style format. This handbook is a wealth of good information and I feel I was very impressed with it overall. Some of the"If "If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, "He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone." This philosophical text is a collection of 52 quotes or sayings or advice by Epictetus. It has been collected by one of his students and is presented as almost a proto-handbook style format. This handbook is a wealth of good information and I feel I was very impressed with it overall. Some of the advice is now outdated or just impractical but I am impressed by it non-the-less. This book called me back to the Crito in tone and in the advice. If there is one main thesis of the whole Enchiridion it is to worry only about what you can do and do not worry about what you cannot control, even death. I can see why many Christian philosophers were impressed by some of the stoic treatises even if they rejected some of the main tenants of the philosophy. One interesting concepts of the stoics is that they did not necessarily believe in good and bad, seeing those things as that just people's judgments and that the world is essentially perfect. I don't totally agree but I do think this is a interesting thing to think of when reacting to things that are good or bad. I read this as a part of Classics of Western Philosophy

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kathryne

    Easy read. Great wisdom. For instance: "Follow through on all your generous impulses. Do not question them, especially if a friend needs you; act on his or her behalf. Do not hesitate! Do not sit around speculating about the possible inconvenience, problems or dangers. As long as you let your reason lead the way, you will be safe. It is our duty to stand by our friends in their hour of need." One other very different but solid word of wisdom from so many in this book: "When Easy read. Great wisdom. For instance: "Follow through on all your generous impulses. Do not question them, especially if a friend needs you; act on his or her behalf. Do not hesitate! Do not sit around speculating about the possible inconvenience, problems or dangers. As long as you let your reason lead the way, you will be safe. It is our duty to stand by our friends in their hour of need." One other very different but solid word of wisdom from so many in this book: "When we name things correctly, we comprehend them correctly, without adding information or judgements that aren't there. Does someone bathe quickly? Don't say he bathes poorly, but quickly. Name the situation as it is, don't filter it through your judgments. Does someone drink a lot of wine? Don't say she is a drunk but that she drinks a lot. Unless you possess a ocmprehensive understanding of her life, how do you know if she is a drunk? Do not risk being beguiled by appearances and contructing theories and interpretations based on distortions through misnaming. Give your assent only to what is actually true." So, if I don't smell good enough I just bathed quickly. Got it?!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Curtiss

    I first heard Epictetus quoted after the incident in which the cruiser U.S.S. Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner in 1990, during a period of tension in the Persian Gulf (what else?). A friend and I were discussing the ramifications and liabilty of the Vincennes's Captain, when a gentleman at the next table said that he knew of an apt quote which he often used in court when a case was going against him and the opposing counsel was roundly denouncing him in front of the judge. He w I first heard Epictetus quoted after the incident in which the cruiser U.S.S. Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner in 1990, during a period of tension in the Persian Gulf (what else?). A friend and I were discussing the ramifications and liabilty of the Vincennes's Captain, when a gentleman at the next table said that he knew of an apt quote which he often used in court when a case was going against him and the opposing counsel was roundly denouncing him in front of the judge. He would stand and declaim from Epictetus, "He could not know all my faults, else he would not have mentioned merely these," which usually got the judge to side with him. Epictetus was one of Emperor Nero's slaves and a philosopher of the stoic school, with opinions and sayings designed to ease the burdens and cares of daily life, hence "The Art of Living" as this collection's title.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lilly Minasyan

    "Don't just say you have read books. Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person. Books are the training weights of the mind. They are very helpful, but would be a bad mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their contents." Wow. What a life changing book this is! This is one of those books that I'll definitely re-read it in near future. Every word, every sentence, every paragraph was es "Don't just say you have read books. Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person. Books are the training weights of the mind. They are very helpful, but would be a bad mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their contents." Wow. What a life changing book this is! This is one of those books that I'll definitely re-read it in near future. Every word, every sentence, every paragraph was essential and so true. It is a small book, but filled with so much wisdom and clarity. I took out so many quotes! I almost wanted to copy every single word and engrave it in my brain. Great great great book!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mazen Yehia

    “Don't just say you have read books. Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person. Books are the training weights of the mind. They are very helpful, but it would be a bad mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their contents."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Guy

    Fundamental and powerful book. The philosophy of life presented here by Epictetus will bring happiness to the person who has the fortitude to put his ideas into practice. The question is, do you really have the desire enough to put into practice his ideas? Fundamentally, the book is about seeing your Self truly as it is, as you are, and the world truly as it is, neither of which most of us are comfortable doing. We would much rather live in a world of ideas and half-baked untestable impractical Fundamental and powerful book. The philosophy of life presented here by Epictetus will bring happiness to the person who has the fortitude to put his ideas into practice. The question is, do you really have the desire enough to put into practice his ideas? Fundamentally, the book is about seeing your Self truly as it is, as you are, and the world truly as it is, neither of which most of us are comfortable doing. We would much rather live in a world of ideas and half-baked untestable impractical truths and ideas of perfection. Fantastic read. So simple. So hard. So true.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alexey

    If you read one stoic you read them all. However, I can find many interesting things in this book. I most like 'life as a dinner' moment. Though Epictetus provide good advice for everybody, I more and more agree with Jaspers on the emptiness of stoicism.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ivan

    Some of the ideas are definitely worthy of consideration and I will do my best to incorporate them in my life. There's a lot of useful wisdom in these rules that could help anyone live happier and more fulfilling life. But, there's also a lot of radical ideas that in my opinion go against everything that makes us human. For example: "With regard to whatever objects give you delight, are useful, or are deeply loved, remember to tell yourself of what general nature they are, beginning f Some of the ideas are definitely worthy of consideration and I will do my best to incorporate them in my life. There's a lot of useful wisdom in these rules that could help anyone live happier and more fulfilling life. But, there's also a lot of radical ideas that in my opinion go against everything that makes us human. For example: "With regard to whatever objects give you delight, are useful, or are deeply loved, remember to tell yourself of what general nature they are, beginning from the most insignificant things... If you kiss your child, or your wife, say that you only kiss things which are human, and thus you will not be disturbed if either of them dies." I can't imagine that any sane human being is able to live a life this way. I don't think that it would even be life worthy of living. After all, all of us should have something we care about, something that makes us vulnerable because those are the reasons that give meaning to life. It's definitely worthy read but just use your own judgement on these rules and pay attention to those that can help you in your path of self-improvement.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    Nothing that most people don't know. Really. I'm not trying to appear brilliant. I gave 2 stars because the ideas are expressed in a lovely, straightforward prose. The problem I have with this work is that Epictetus, it seems to this non-classicist, does not give value to responsibility of obligation. For example, I sense that if someone was unhappy in a marriage, Epictetus would tell that someone to leave the marriage instead of working it out. I also sense he did not put value in emotions of p Nothing that most people don't know. Really. I'm not trying to appear brilliant. I gave 2 stars because the ideas are expressed in a lovely, straightforward prose. The problem I have with this work is that Epictetus, it seems to this non-classicist, does not give value to responsibility of obligation. For example, I sense that if someone was unhappy in a marriage, Epictetus would tell that someone to leave the marriage instead of working it out. I also sense he did not put value in emotions of pleasure. Screw you Epictetus, my feelings matter to me. He places far too much emphasis on Providence.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bernie Gourley

    This thin volume is packed with the wisdom of Epictetus. Epictetus was a freed slave who made a name for himself as a philosopher in Rome about a century after the birth of Christ. While small-s “stoic” conjures an image of a dour automaton, the Stoics were philosophers who believed [he oversimplified] that there’s nothing worth getting broken up about. If you can do something to influence the outcome of an event, you just need to pick the virtuous course. And if you can’t do anything about it, This thin volume is packed with the wisdom of Epictetus. Epictetus was a freed slave who made a name for himself as a philosopher in Rome about a century after the birth of Christ. While small-s “stoic” conjures an image of a dour automaton, the Stoics were philosophers who believed [he oversimplified] that there’s nothing worth getting broken up about. If you can do something to influence the outcome of an event, you just need to pick the virtuous course. And if you can’t do anything about it, getting mopey is futile. In many ways, Stoicism is the Western philosophy that is most in-line with Eastern philosophies in that it emphasizes that your internal mental state is independent of what is happening outside you; so, if you can rule your mind you can find your bliss. Lebell, the editor of this volume, heavily accentuates that similarity. When I called this thin, I didn’t mean “thin” as a derogatory comment. That said, this book is even thinner than it’s 113-page count would suggest because (as with most poetry collections) there’s a lot of white space left under a few lines of text. I actually think it’s kind of nice that the publisher didn’t do what is usually done with such short books, which is to pad them out with various unnecessary ancillary material. That said, if you can get the e-book, you’ll save some trees from dying for blank space. If they would have placed more than one maxim per page, it would probably have been cut to about 60pp. I found this book to be well-written and nicely presented, and would recommend it for someone who wants a simple and concise overview of Stoicism.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gustavo Offely

    Um livrinho de bons conselhos impraticáveis. Uma boa preparação para o Natal. THERE are things which are within our power, and there are things which are beyond our power. § Now the things within our power are by nature free, unrestricted, unhindered; but those beyond our power are weak, dependent, restricted, alien. Remember then, that, if you attribute freedom to things by nature dependent, and take what belongs to others for your own; you will be hindered, you will lament, you wil/>Now/>THERE Um livrinho de bons conselhos impraticáveis. Uma boa preparação para o Natal. THERE are things which are within our power, and there are things which are beyond our power. § Now the things within our power are by nature free, unrestricted, unhindered; but those beyond our power are weak, dependent, restricted, alien. Remember then, that, if you attribute freedom to things by nature dependent, and take what belongs to others for your own; you will be hindered, you will lament, you will be disturbed, you will find fault both with Gods and men. § (...) he keeps watch over himself as over an enemy and one in ambush.

  30. 5 out of 5

    sologdin

    Roman stoicism, the author expelled from the City by Domitian because philosophizing be dangerous. Contains the 52 propositions of the Enchiridion and 178 fragments thereafter. A number of the propositions in the Enchiridion concern the eidos zoe of the philosopher (V, XV, XXII, XXIII,XXXII, XLVIII, XLIX, L, LI), though some will apply to all bios, and likely to Agamben's 'bare life.' The former text opens with the premise that there're two sets of things--those within 'our power' and those without (I). Within-our-power incl Roman stoicism, the author expelled from the City by Domitian because philosophizing be dangerous. Contains the 52 propositions of the Enchiridion and 178 fragments thereafter. A number of the propositions in the Enchiridion concern the eidos zoe of the philosopher (V, XV, XXII, XXIII,XXXII, XLVIII, XLIX, L, LI), though some will apply to all bios, and likely to Agamben's 'bare life.' The former text opens with the premise that there're two sets of things--those within 'our power' and those without (I). Within-our-power includes 'our own acts' (including opinion, movement, desire & aversion (!)), whereas without-our-power includes "the body [!], property, reputation, offices" and so on (id.). Plenty of awful things happen in the world, without-our-power, but we are "disturbed not by the things which happen, but by the opinions about the things" (V). Ergo, we need simply change our opinion, which, as above, is within-our-power. Easy! Tranquility will consist in accommodation to the real--"seek not that the things which happen should happen as you wish; but wish the things which happen to be as they are" (VIII). While I am all for accommodation to the real, this perhaps is a bit too complacent. Disease, we are told, "is an impediment of the body, but not of the will, unless the will itself chooses"; it is accordingly an impediment "not to yourself" (IX)--the body therefore is alien to the self, which rather inheres in the will, which is apparently subject to control in this conception. Reminiscent of Sun Tzu in the injunction that "you can be invincible, if you enter into no contest in which it is not in your power to conquer" (XIX). Definitely slick in repudiating the notion of atimia (XXIV)--but bizarre in the injunction to "apply the things which relate to the body as far as the bare use, as food, drink, clothing, house, and slaves [!!!!], but exclude everything which is for show or luxury" (XXXIII)--so, a definite lapse in stoic ethics there, if slaves are a necessity. In this regard, we find that "the measure of possession (property) is to every man the body, as the foot is of the shoe" (XXXIX)--"for there is no limit to that which has once passed the true measure" (id.). Kickass: Everything has two handles, the one by which it may be borne, the other by which it may not. If your brother acts unjustly, do not lay hold of the act by that handle wherein he acts unjustly, for this is the handle which cannot be borne; but lay hold of the other, that his your brother, that he was nurtured with you. (XLIII) Similarly cool that "These things do not cohere: I am richer than you, therefore I am better than you" (XLIV). Rather, "I am richer than you, therefore my possessions are greater than yours" (id.). Perhaps a manual for living under the Roman regime--though we might question either its plausibility or its passivity if the stoics continued to be assassinated and exiled. An odd mix of radical corporeal disaggregation with adherence to class norms, as well as a maximalist conception of volition wherein even desire is subject to conscious will.

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