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Top 7 Brilliant Ideas of Epictetus: The Philosopher Who Was Born a Slave

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Epictetus, one of my favorite philosophers, was widely known for his fascinating philosophical ideas. Although he was a slave at a young age, he managed to pursue stoic philosophy under an influential teacher who played a huge role in making him great.

It’s said that Epictetus’ teachings influenced more people than Plato’s. Many people, including affluent folks and great thinkers, were highly interested in his teachings.

Here are some of his brilliant philosophical teachings I would love to share with you.

1.How To Achieve Your Goals

According to the stoic philosopher, you can only get what you want if you work extremely hard. He also believed you can achieve your goals if you quit doing anything that doesn’t move you towards them and only focus on doing the things that move you towards them.

2.Stop Being Concerned With Things Beyond Your Power

Epictetus taught that we should only be concerned with the things we can change. He believed it’s a waste of time and energy to be concerned with the things, such as other people’s character, the past, or the weather, which we don’t have the power to change. He argued that we only live well when we allow the things we can’t control to do as they please.

3.Only Care About The Things That Matter

Epictetus noticed that people were stressed because they cared about many things. They cared about their estate, brother, slave, pet, emperor, the weather, and the society. He advised people that they could reduce their burdens by choosing to only care about the things that truly mattered to them.

4.There is A Creator

This great philosopher also argued that all the things in the universe reveal the presence of an artificer as they could not have occurred randomly. He believed that things such as our intellect and sexual intercourse were purposefully designed by a Higher Power. He asked non-believers to explain, ‘how objects so wonderful and workmanlike should come to being at random and spontaneously.

5.Anxiety Occurs When We Want Things That Are Beyond Our Control

‘When I see a man in anxiety, I say to myself. What can it be that this fellow wants? For if he did not want something that was outside his control, how could he be in anxiety?’ – Epictetus, Stoic Philosopher

Epictetus argued that we become anxious when we want something that is beyond our control. He provided an example of a good singer who only becomes anxious when singing in front of a crowd because she wants the crowd to applause her but fears it might not do so. This singer could not have been anxious if she focused on her singing (which she can control). She only became anxious because she focused on applause (which she couldn’t control).

6.Understand The True Nature of Everything You Love

Epictetus urged his students to understand the true nature of the things they loved so that they won’t be sad when they lose them. For instance, he advised people who loved their family members to realize that they are vulnerable to death so that they won’t be disturbed when they die. Also, he advised people who owned an earthen vessel to understand its true nature so that they won’t be disturbed when the vessel breaks.

7.Your Opinions Determine Your Reactions

To illustrate this point, Epictetus provided an example of a man who wept after his son passed away. He revealed that the passing away of the man’s son was not a bad thing because it could have affected the whole society if it was bad. However, the fact that it only affected this man shows that this man had some opinions about his son. Maybe he thought that there is no one as wonderful as his son. His opinions made him devastated when he lost his son.

Epictetus also provided an example of an insult. He revealed that we react wrongly to an insult because of our opinions towards it.

THE END

Hope you enjoyed Epictetus’ ideas. I welcome you to add more of his ideas in the comment box or reveal the idea you agree or disagree with.

Anyway, I welcome you to my facebook community: The Unbounded Wisdom Community, where I share philosophical, success, and spiritual quotes and ideas.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Delle

    January 11, 2019 at 11:22 am

    I love how you break down useful info from great minds so it’s clearer and even better accessible and memorable! One of my favorite quotes as a perpetual student of life and philosophy is by Epictetus : If You Want To Imorove, Be Content To Be Thought Stupid and Foolish.

    • Isaac Wechuli

      January 11, 2019 at 12:48 pm

      Thanks Delle. I love that quote too…it motivates me to do the things i have to do for me to move towards my dreams

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Philosophy

Discussing Arthur Schopenhauer’s Shocking Thoughts on Romantic Love

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Introduction

According to Merriam Webster, romantic love is ‘attraction based on sexual desire, or affection felt by admiration.’ Most of us believe we fall in love because we are attracted to each other and want to be together all the time. However, Arthur Schopenhauer, the most pessimistic philosopher, had different and shocking thoughts on love.

Arthur Schopenhauer’s Thoughts On Love

Schopenhauer believed love has nothing to do with the present moment because it makes people to have sex to ensure the continuation of the human species. He believed life makes us fall in love to prevent the extinction of the human race.

For as he wrote, ‘Love is of such high import, because it has nothing to do with the woe of the present individual. It has to secure the existence and special nature of the human race in future times,’ and this is the reason why most lovers ensure their children have a good future.

Furthermore, Schopenhauer argued that love is our sexual instinct wearing the mask of passion and romance. This sexual instinct deceives people that they love each other so that they have sex and accomplish nature’s greatest goal – procreation.

Schopenhauer thus believed that love is only advantageous to nature even though people believe it’s beneficial to them. He argued that nature makes us attracted to qualities such as strength or beauty because it wants the best for the human species.

To prove that love is nature attempting to attain its goals, Schopenhauer provided an example of how a man’s love for his woman decreases after a while and the man gets attracted to other women so that he spreads his seed to many women and ensure the survival of the human species. He also supported his argument by claiming that a woman’s love is constant because ‘nature compels her intuitively and unconsciously to take care of the supporter and protector of the future offspring.’

In summary, Arthur Schopenhauer believed love is life’s way of ensuring that the ‘human species is unharmed by death.’

Conclusion

Schopenhauer’s thoughts on love are true to some extent because romantic love usually results in sexual intercourse. Besides this, romantic love makes parents cooperate in enabling their child to have a bright future hence securing the human race.

However, this does not mean that love is an illusion. Love is real and it’s the greatest gift from Infinite Intelligence because the feeling of loving someone or being loved reduces stress, makes people happier, and enables them to take good care of themselves. Moreover, sometimes love inspires people, especially men, to pursue success so that they provide everything their spouse needs.

Anyway, what are your thoughts on love? Do you believe Schopenhauer was right? Is it true that love is an illusion and life’s way of ensuring that procreation takes place? You are welcome to express your ideas on Schopenhauer’s thoughts on love in the comment box below.

You are welcome to join my facebook community: Unbounded Wisdom Community for insightful quotes and ideas.

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Philosophy

Epictetus on How to Unite with God/Infinite Intelligence.

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Many mystics and spiritual leaders believe the main goal of life is to unite with God/Infinite Intelligence. They believe uniting with God makes life blissful and brings higher wisdom and knowledge to an individual. For this reason, I researched on what great thinkers thought on how to unite with The Creator and I stumbled upon Epictetus’ idea.

According to Epictetus, you unite with God when you make God’s will your will. As he put it ‘A person who reasons well, understands and considers, that if he joins himself to God, he shall go safely through his journey. ‘How do you mean join himself to God?’ That whatever is the will of God may be his will too, that whatever is not the will of God, may not be his.’ (John Bonforte, Philosophy of Epictetus)

Epictetus thus trusted that accepting God’s will results in unity with God. According to him, you accept God’s will when you detach from everything since God subjected everything to change.  You realize that nothing you have is permanent and you stop idolizing your material possessions.

Epictetus also believed that to accept God’s will, you must avoid feeling sad when something bad happens to your possessions because doing so is resisting God’s will. Feeling bad when something happens to your possessions shows that you want to retain forever what God made temporary. The Stoic philosopher wanted us to thankfully receive whatever the universe gives us, and let it go without regrets when the universe takes it back.

Furthermore, he believed you make God’s will your will when you place your ‘pursuits under the direction of God’ and accept whatever life throws at you. For as he wrote, ‘Say to yourself, ‘I have placed my pursuits under the direction of God. Is it his will that I should have a fever? It is my will too. Is it his will that I should obtain anything? It is my will too.’ Epictetus trusted God so much that he believed that whatever the God allowed to happen was good.

He believed God controlled everything including our experiences and possessions. He trusted that God determined what happens to us and what we can amass in this world.

To sum up, Epictetus believed that understanding that nothing is permanent and accepting whatever happens leads to unity with God.

‘Conduct me, O God, and thou, O destiny. Wherever your decrees have fixed my lot. I follow cheerfully.’ – Epictetus (John Bonforte, Philosophy of Epictetus)

References

Bonforte, J. (1955). Philosophy of Epictetus. New York: The Philosphical Library

You are welcome to join my Facebook closed group: The unbounded wisdom community for fascinating quotes and ideas.

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