Stoic News

By Dave Kelly

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Philosophical principles in Epictetus' Handbook

Three online papers by Dr. Keith H. Seddon will give you the right start for the study of Epictetus' Handbook.

1. Epictetus [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

This article on Epictetus will expose you to Epictetus' 'Three Disciplines', the three areas (topoi) of Stoic training (askesis).
These areas of training, or exercise, are addressed in corresponding sections of the Handbook ("Desire" 2-29; "Action" 30-41; "Assent" 42-45).

The next two papers will be helpful mostly in the study the first part of the Handbook (chapters 2-29) which seems to be devoted to the first of Epictetus' areas of training, the Discipline of Desire.

2. Stoics on fate and determinism

Or "Do the Stoics succeed in showing how people can be morally responsible for some of their actions within the framework of causal determinism?" This paper will provide you with some knowledge of the Stoic philosophical principles about determinism, causation and moral responsibility, which are the philosophical principles behind Epictetus' ideas on what is 'up to us', which is the subject of the first part (ch. 2-29) of the Handbook.

3. Stoics on the passions

Or "The Stoics on why we should strive to be free of the passions."

"Of these [three areas of study], the principle, and most urgent, is that which has to do with the passions; for these are produced in no other way than by the disappointment of our desires, and the incurring of our aversions. It is this that introduces disturbances, tumults, misfortunes, and calamities; and causes sorrow, lamentation and envy; and renders us envious and jealous, and thus incapable of listening to reason. (Discourses 3.2.3, trans. Hard)" (Seddon)


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