Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kvetching About: Epictetus

Epictetus once wrote, "Do not seek to have events happen as you want them to, but instead to want them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go well."

OK, so basically, Epictetus wants us all to STFU; not to complain, not to have false hope, not to go against the system. A tough position, so how does he defend it? Well, he goes on a well educated rant about the ideas that humans do not really know themselves...if they THINK they do. They are motivated by fear of death and the unknown, they have no control over their own destinies, and (on that point) they have less control when they believe themselves to have control.

While I see what he is getting at, he is definitely getting ahead of himself. No matter what reasoning you have, divine or otherwise, humans cannot reasonably be expected to have some sort of conscious 'want' for negative circumstances. As for the unconscious want, human instinct is primarily to live and to live well. Perhaps Epictetus is inferring that you need to take the bad with the good, but even unconsciously, the 'want' for negativity goes against basic human instinct. To be negative and to let bad things happen to you can ruin chances for survival. Apathy ruins life.

And who the hell is he to say who I am? He is not some sort of godhead, I am my own man.

And I have to write 1000 words on this...