Encheiridion or The Handbook Essay

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Encheiridion or The Handbook

Epictetus (A.D.c.55-c.135) was a Stoic, that is he was a representative of Stoicism. Stoicism was a philosophical movement that was popular in the ancient world, from when it was founded by Zeno of Citium, until the death of the Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius. Stoicism came from the Greek word “Stoa Poikile” which means “painted porch”. Epictetus was a freed slave who studied Stoic philosophy and later taught it in Rome and then in Greece. The Encheiridion or The Handbook embodies the core ideas of Stoicism.

Epictetus like other Stoics believed that the world is like an organism where all the parts work for the good of the whole and everything that happens in the world is
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For example in section 1, he says (GL53) “ Some things ………… to us”. Once we are freed from counter productive desires and emotions, Stoics believe, we can live in accord with the underlying order and reason of nature. And Epictetus and Stoics believe that such a life is characterized by equanimity and inner peace.
The Stoics believed in a sort of divine providence; a natural order. Stoics were also materialists. They believed that all things in the universe was composed of atoms and that these atoms took different forms to form different things, such as people, rocks, stones etc. And these atoms get arranged because of an ultimate natural order. Their problem was to reconcile this natural order with what was people’s freedom to do things. Therefore they propounded that, we as humans must make use of our faculty of judgment. They said that if we use it properly, then we would be closest to the natural order. Unlike Aristotle, Epictetus holds that to reach great goals, one must undertake actions with all their effort and concentration and that by undertaking actions moderately no one can achieve anything (GL54). Therefore this view is different to that of Aristotle. This can be further seen in section 29 (GL62), here he also stresses upon the same idea. Epictetus, like other Stoics differed from Plato’s view of “appearance”

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