“The Handbook” by Epictetus: New Version

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There are two kinds of things in this world:

  1. things we control
  2. things we don’t control

The things we control are our actions, opinions, pursuits, desires, and fears. The things we don’t control are the actions and opinions of others, and the body, possessions, and status we’re born with.

The things we control we control freely, without any hindrance or restraint. The things we don’t control are controlled by others, or by fortune’s whim.

If you assume you control the things you don’t control, you will be frustrated and upset. You will regret things and blame both the gods and men. But if you know the difference between what you control and don’t control, then no one will ever force or restrain you. No one will have the power to harm you. You will stop blaming people and your enemies will disappear.

Remember: if you seek greatness, you’ll need to leave moderation behind. Instead, you’ll need to give up some things completely and hold off on others. If you try to have your cake and eat it too, then you won’t even get the cake, because you try to eat it too. For example, you might have to give up the pursuit of wealth and power if you want happiness and freedom, or vice versa.

Try to develop yourself to the point where you can look at things and say: “You’re just an appearance to me, and of no substance.” Then you can ask yourself whether it’s something you control or don’t control. If you find it’s something you don’t control, you can say it is nothing to you.

2.

When you desire something you want to gain it, and are disappointed when you don’t get it. When you fear something you want to avoid it, and are wretched when you encounter it. But if you only fear the things in your control (bad thoughts, for example), then you’ll never be forced to encounter the things you fear. But fear sickness, or death or poverty or any other misfortune you don’t control and you’re sure to end up wretched.

You must learn to detach yourself from the things you don’t control in such a way that you stop fearing or desiring them. You will end up disappointed if you desire such things. Then even the things you do control, the things you should desire, become unavailable to you. Instead, pursue certain things and avoid others, but do so lightly, gently and without straining.

3.

When you encounter something you like, remind yourself that it is the thing in general that you like, not the particular thing you see before you. For example, if you like a specific cup, remind yourself that it’s only cups in general that you like. Then if it breaks you won’t be upset.

When you kiss your wife or child, remind yourself that you only kiss human beings. Then if you lose them you’ll be less upset.

4.

When you are about to do some action, remind yourself what kind of action it is beforehand. If you’re going to bathe, for example, picture beforehand the things that often happen in public baths: people splashing and pushing, people cursing and stealing. If you anticipate events before you proceed, you’ll go about your action more safely.

You can prepare yourself by saying: “I’m not just here to bathe. I’m here to remain in control of myself and my thoughts.” Then if a problem arises while bathing, you’ll be ready to say, “I didn’t just come here to bathe, but also to remain in control of myself and my thoughts. If I let myself be bothered by the things I already knew might happen, then I lose that control.”

5.

Things don’t disturb us. Rather our thoughts about things disturb us.

Death, for example, isn’t terrible. If it were, it would have appeared so to Socrates. No, the terror of death comes from us thinking death is terrible, not from the nature of death itself.

So when something frustrates you, when a person annoys you or distresses you, don’t blame the person or the thing. Blame yourself. Blame your own thoughts. A fool blames others for his own condition. A better man blames himself. A master doesn’t blame at all.

6.

Don’t take credit for things that are not yours.

If a horse should be proud and say, “I’m beautiful,” that’s fine. But if you become proud and say, “I’m great because I own a beautiful horse,” remember that you are proud of the horse’s good, not your own.

What’s your own? Your reactions to things — these are your own. If you behave well in your reactions to things, you can be proud — for in that case you are proud of your own good.

7.

Imagine you’re on an ocean voyage and your ship stops at an island. You drop anchor and go ashore for water. Along the way you amuse yourself by picking up shellfish and fruit. But your thoughts and attention must always be on the ship, awaiting the captain’s call. When he does call, you must be ready to drop everything and run to the boat without looking back.

So it is in life. If you pick up a wife or child instead of fruit or shellfish, that’s fine. But if the captain calls, you must run to the ship, leave them, and not look back.

8.

Don’t demand things to happen the way you want. Want them to happen the way they do. Then your life will always go well.

9.

Sickness may hinder the body, but it doesn’t hinder the way you react to sickness. Injury may hinder the leg, but it doesn’t hinder the way you react to injury.

Repeat these words whenever you face adversity and adversity will not hinder you.

10.

Whenever trouble occurs, ask yourself how you can make use of it.

For example, if you’re tempted by something or by someone, see it as an opportunity to ignore your desires and to practice self-restraint. If you’re hurting because of some injury, see it as an opportunity to show fortitude. If someone offends you with their words, see it as an opportunity to show patience. Make a habit of this and external things will no longer have any effect on you.

11.

Never say “It is lost,” say “It is returned.”

Has your son died? He is returned. Has your wife died? She is returned. Has your estate been taken away? Has it not also been returned?

“But the guy who got it was a scoundrel!”

What difference does it make who gets it next? While you have it, take care of it, but don’t think of it as your own. Think of it as a traveler thinks of his hotel room.

12.

If you want to improve yourself, reject thoughts like these: “If I’m not uptight about my money, I’ll end up poor” or “If I don’t punish my workers, they’ll misbehave.” Remember: it’s better to die hungry and stress-free than to live rich and stressed out. And it’s better for your workers to misbehave, than for you to be bothered by it.

So start with the small stuff. Is a little oil spilt, a little wine stolen? Then say to yourself: “No problem. The lost material is the price I pay for peace of mind, for a stress-free life.” Nothing comes for free. Everything costs something.

So when you call for one of your workers, maybe he doesn’t come, or maybe he doesn’t follow your directions. But remember: he doesn’t have the power to disturb you. Only you have that power.

13.

If you want to improve yourself, think less about your reputation. Don’t strive to be thought knowledgeable. If people say you are important, doubt such importance.

It is difficult to be cool-headed, reputed and rich all at the same time. Care about one and you neglect the others.

14.

What? You want your loved ones to live forever?

You’re a fool. You’re trying to control things you can’t control. You’re trying to possess things you can’t possess.

What? You want your workers to make no mistakes?

You’re a fool. You’re trying to control things you can’t control. You’re trying to turn humans into something else.

What? You want your desires to be satisfied?

Okay, this you can control, because you control what you desire. But remember: the day you restrain your desires and stop fearing the things you don’t control is the day you master yourself and free yourself from others.

15.

Act as if life is one big dinner party. Has a dish been passed your way? Then take your share with moderation. Has a dish already passed by? Then don’t try to stop it, it will return. Has a dish not yet come? Then don’t reach your desire toward it. Wait until the dish reaches you.

In life the dishes are children, wives, jobs, and riches. Behave well toward them and you will feast with the gods. Abstain even from the dishes set before you and you will be a partner of the gods and rule beside them. Diogenes and Heraclitus did so and today people call them divine.

16.

When you see a mother weeping because her son has gone abroad, suffered or died, don’t let the spectacle mislead you. Instead, keep your cool and say “It’s not the event itself that distresses this mother. Rather it is her thoughts about the event that distress her.”

But never hesitate to help her or to offer her your sympathy or even to weep with her if necessary. Just be careful not to weep inside.

17.

You are an actor in a play the author has chosen: if short, a short one; if long, a long one. If he chooses you to play a poor man, play the part well. If he chooses you to play a captain or a cripple or just an average man, do the same.

For this is your duty: to play well the part chosen for you. Choosing the part belongs to another.

18.

If you break a mirror, don’t freak out. Use your head and say “Superstitions don’t affect me. They may affect my body or property, my reputation or family, but to me all omens are lucky because I make them so. Whatever happens, it is always within my power to take advantage of it.”

19.

You will be invincible if you never fight a battle you don’t control.

When you see someone honorable, powerful, supposedly esteemed, don’t get carried away and assume the person is happy. And certainly don’t envy or emulate him. If goodness is yours for the making then why would you ever envy or emulate another?

Don’t wish to be a rich man or a general. Wish to be free. Freedom is only possible when you accept the things you don’t control.

20.

No man can insult you if you’re not affected by his words.

If someone provokes you, remember it is your opinion that provokes you, not his. Try in the first place not to be carried away by someone else’s words. Once you gain a little time and respite, you will see things clearly and command yourself more easily.

21.

Let death and exile and all other terrible things, especially death, appear often before your eyes. Then your base and greedy thoughts will make themselves scarce.

22.

If you plan to be a philosopher, be ready to endure the laughter and sneers of the masses.

“He’s a wise guy now!” they’ll say, “He looks down on us.” But you don’t look down on them, nor should you. Rather, simply continue on steadily with what you know your duty to be.

Remember: if you don’t give in to them, the people who at first ridiculed you will soon admire you. Give in to them, however, and you will be twice ridiculed.

23.

If you obsess about appearances and wish to please others then you will ruin your plan. Instead, be content being a philosopher.

If you want to appear as such-and-such to someone else, first be such-and-such to yourself and that should suffice.

24.

Don’t be distressed by thoughts like these: “I’ll lose my honor,” or “I’ll be a nobody!” Honor isn’t a commodity to be given or taken away. And your duty is not to gain power or popularity. So how could you ever “lose your honor”? And how could you ever be a “nobody” when you are always free to be a somebody?

“But my friends will need my help!”

Need your help with what? With your money? With your connections? Are these your responsibilities? Remember: you can’t give to others what you don’t have yourself.

“Get rich!” they’ll say, “then share it with us.”

Fine, get rich. But get rich only if you can do so without compromising your honor or self-respect. If someone asks you to sacrifice your goodness to gain money, you will be a fool to agree. You should tell the person: “A trustworthy and honorable friend like me is worth far more to you than any money I could give. Help me continue being your friend by not asking me to compromise my honor.”

“But my community will need me!”

Need you for what? Will you build the community yourself? The duty of a gunsmith is not to provide shoes, nor is the duty of a shoemaker to provide arms. Just do your duty and your community will surely profit.

“But what about my place in the community?”

Just concentrate on being trustworthy and honorable. If you lose these qualities trying to be useful to the community, you’ll become useless to both yourself and the community.

25.

Is someone preferred before you at a party, in a compliment, in a request for advice? If these things are good, then you should be glad for the person. If they’re bad, don’t worry about not getting them. Don’t expect an equal share of something if you haven’t paid an equal price to get it.

For example, why should a man who never frequents the door of a “great man,” who never attends him, flatters him and kisses his ass — why should he receive the same treatment from the “great man” as someone who does these things? Mark my words: you will be unreasonable if you refuse to pay the price for which things are sold. And you will be insatiable if you want things for free.

For example, how much does a head of lettuce cost? Fifty cents, maybe. If someone pays the fifty cents and takes the lettuce and you don’t pay the fifty cents and go without it, then don’t imagine the person with the lettuce has gained something over you. He may now have the lettuce, but you have your fifty cents.

In the case of the “great man” above, you haven’t been invited to his party because you haven’t paid the price for which the invitation is sold. It is sold for frequent visits, for personal attention, for excessive flattery and many kisses on the ass. If you want to pay this price, go ahead — enjoy the party. But if you don’t want to pay the price and still want to go to the party, you’re a greedy fool.

Remember: you still have something in place of the invitation. You have the refusal to flatter a man you don’t like. You have the refusal to bear his tedious company.

26.

We can learn the will of nature by not distinguishing between the things that happen to us and the things that happen to other people.

For example, when a neighbor’s boy breaks a glass, you quickly say “These things happen.” Fine, but when your own glass breaks you should say the same thing, and likewise toward more important things.

Someone’s child or wife has died. We hear the news and say “These things happen.” But if our own child happens to die, it is always: “Why me? Why me?” Here we must remember how we felt when we heard the same thing happen to another.

27.

Just as a target is not set up for the sake of missing it, neither do bad things happen in our world.

28.

If someone handed your body over to random strangers in the street, you’d surely be upset. Why then do you feel no shame at handing your mind over to be upset by anyone who happens to insult or annoy you?

29.

For every endeavor consider what precedes and follows it, and then undertake it. Otherwise you’ll start with a goal in mind and then when the going gets tough, you’ll give up in disgrace.

For example, if you want to be an Olympic gold medalist, you should first consider what it takes to win a gold medal. You will have to be disciplined, keep a strict diet, train everyday in good and bad weather, abstain from alcohol, and obey your trainer like a doctor. Then when the games begin, you will have to dig in, bear painful injuries, be covered with dirt and mud, and in the end, still probably lose. Consider all this, and then if you still want that gold medal, go ahead.

But fail to foresee the difficulties your endeavor entails and you will behave like a child who plays a wrestler after seeing a wrestler, then a gladiator after seeing a gladiator, then a musician after hearing a musician. You will do nothing whole-heartedly. Rather you will ape other men according to your latest whim and end up doing everything half-heartedly.

The philosopher Euphrates speaks well and impresses people when he speaks publicly. People always walk away from his speeches wanting to be philosophers themselves. But they should think about the difficulties such a life entails before they choose to follow in Euphrates’ footsteps.

If you wanted to become a wrestler, wouldn’t you examine your body — your shoulders, back, and thighs? Yes, because you know different pursuits suit different people. Is it any different with philosophers?

What? You think you can act like you do now and still be a philosopher? You think you can continue doing the same things — eating and drinking the same things, being subject to the same flurries of emotions and cravings — and still be a philosopher? Weariness, frustration, solitude, exile, humility, and poverty: these are what you can expect if you pursue philosophy. Ask yourself whether you’re willing to buy these for the price of your tranquility and freedom. Then decide.

If you still choose philosophy, then don’t act childishly and be a philosopher one day and then a tax-collector the next and then an orator the next and then a politician the next. This is inconsistent. Be one person, good or bad. Focus your abilities either on the internal or on the external, on your guiding principle or on the things outside.

Be a philosopher, or don’t.

30.

Our duties are often determined by our relationships with other people. For example, a son’s duty is to take care of his father, obey him, listen patiently to his reproaches, and bear his blows. “But what if he’s a bad father?” Who said you’re entitled to a good father? You’re entitled to a father, that’s all.

Has your brother wronged you? Then maintain your duty to him. Consider not what he’s done against you, but what you must do to maintain your duty to him. You’ll know your duty and what to expect from others — from your neighbors, countrymen, and leaders — when you make it a habit it contemplate your relationships with other people.

And remember: a man cannot harm you unless you choose to be harmed. You will choose to be harmed when you think you are harmed.

31.

Believe in the gods and respect them. They arrange the universe justly, and well. But also follow and obey them. For they know what they’re doing. Accept this advice and you’ll never blame the gods for neglecting you.

Start by separating the things you control from the things you don’t control. Then apply the terms “good” or “bad” only to the things you control. What’s the use of calling things you don’t control “good” or “bad”? If you do so, you will only end up disappointed.

You will blame the gods when the “bad” things happen to you and when the “good” things don’t.

All living things avoid what harms them and pursue what helps them. People are no different. A man will not enjoy or honor something he thinks harms him. In this regard, a son abuses his father when he deems “good” something his father fails to give him. Howso? By deeming “good” something he doesn’t control. In like manner, Polynices and Eteocles became mutual enemies because they deemed “good” something they didn’t control: ruling the empire.

Why do you think so many farmers, sailors, merchants, and widowers revile and blame the gods? The answer is simple. They worship according to their desires and fears and are thus frequently disappointed.

Be mindful of your piety, just as you are mindful of your desires and fears. Offer prayers and offerings as custom dictates, and always in moderation.

32.

Know the true nature of fortune-tellers. When they speak of things out of your control, they speak of things neither good nor bad. So don’t approach a fortune-teller fearing or hoping for something she might say. Remember: it’s better to be indifferent toward the things you don’t control. Such things can’t harm you because you choose your reaction to them.

Approach the gods with confidence. They are your counselors — listen to them. As Socrates said: go to fortune-tellers only with the big picture in mind and only as a last resort.

And never abandon your duty to a friend because of what a fortune-teller says. It’s better to suffer the worst pains the world can inflict than to abandon your duty to a friend.

33.

Develop a character and code of conduct for yourself and then stick to by always — both when you’re alone and with others.

Be silent for the most part, or speak briefly. It’s okay to make small talk, but not about common or vulgar things. Above all, don’t talk about other people, and if you must, never criticize, praise or compare them. Instead try to steer the conversation to more appropriate topics. If you happen to be stranded among strangers, just listen.

Don’t laugh too much or too often or without restraint.

Avoid swearing oaths.

Avoid vulgar engagements. If you can’t then be mindful of the company you keep there. A base man will debase his companions over time just as a sick man infects his.

Take only what you need when it comes to food, drink, clothes, housing, and services. And cut out anything showy or luxurious.

Avoid sex before marriage, and if you can’t then make sure you do it properly. But never criticize others for indulging, and certainly don’t boast about your own abstinence.

If you hear someone has spoken ill of you, don’t make excuses or get irritated. Instead say: “He obviously doesn’t know my other weaknesses or he would have mentioned those too.”

Don’t attend too many public spectacles. If you must, then just concentrate on being yourself. Wish for things to be just the way they are. Wish the winner to win and the loser to lose, and you will go well. But never shout or heckle or get caught up in the show. And avoid talking too much afterwards about what you’ve seen, unless it concerns things that can improve you. The same rules apply to public lectures. Show dignity when attending them and never appear sour or sullen.

When you’re about to meet someone important, think about what Socrates or Zeno would do in the same situation. Then you’ll know how to behave.

Before meeting with someone important, tell yourself the person won’t be there, or you won’t be let in, or you’ll be ignored. If the meeting happens anyway, then don’t leave it feeling over-confident or thinking you had nothing to worry about. These are the thoughts of a common man or someone dazed by external things.

In conversation, don’t talk too much about yourself or the dangers you’ve endured. The thrill you get in re-telling the risks you’ve taken far exceed the thrill a listener gets in hearing them.

In like manner, avoid too many attempts at comedy. Such attempts easily slip into vulgarity and will lessen you in the eyes of others. The same thing goes for foul or indecent language. If you encounter such talk, rebuke the person in private or show your displeasure in public by way of your silence or disapproving looks.

34.

When you catch wind of a possible pleasure, don’t let your excitement carry you away. Let the pleasure wait on you. Take your time and seize every chance for delay.

In the meantime, imagine two images: (1) yourself indulging in the pleasure, and (2) yourself regretting it afterwards and chiding yourself for giving in. Compare these images to an image of yourself pleased and proud after having stood strong and abstained from the pleasure. You will then be prepared to abstain when the chance comes to indulge.

Think of the great victory you gain by abstaining and you won’t be seduced by your desires.

35.

If you know something needs to be done, then don’t try to avoid people seeing you do it, even if they could get the wrong idea. If it’s not the right thing to do, then don’t do it. If it is the right thing to do, then you shouldn’t be afraid of someone criticizing you for it.

36.

The statements “It is day” and “It is night” are true in the context of an “either-or” statement (“Either it is day or it is night”). But neither is true in the context of a “both-and” statement (“It is both day and night”). This also holds for certain social situations.

For example, if you’re a guest at a dinner party, you can’t both take the largest portion and be gracious. Rather you should balance the well-being of your stomach against the respect you show your host.

37.

Try to be someone you’re not and you fail twice: first as person you’re trying to be and second as the person you are.

38.

When walking, you are careful not to twist your ankle or step on nails. In living, you should be just as careful not to injure your guiding principle.

39.

The body is the measure of what material fits it, just as the foot is the measure of what shoes fit it. Keep this in mind and keep to the measure. Go beyond the measure and you tread a slippery slope.

For example, in the case of a shoe, if you go beyond the measure of the foot, you’ll first get a glitzy shoe, then a fancy purple glitzy shoe, then a jewel-studded fancy purple glitzy shoe, and who knows what next? Once you exceed the measure of the foot, limits disappear.

40.

Women become objects of desire as soon as they turn fourteen. Soon thereafter they begin thinking they have no other option but to serve a man in bed. They start decorating themselves and placing all their hopes in serving men. We should help them understand that as such, they are honored for nothing more than seeming modest and self-respecting.

41.

It shows a lack of skill when a man spends all his time only in physical activity — always working out, drinking too much, over-eating, chasing girls, etc. These things should be done incidentally and in passing. Instead, you should devote yourself whole-heartedly to the development of your understanding.

42.

When a man acts badly toward you or speaks ill of you, he is usually just doing what seems right to him. He doesn’t know what you know; he only knows what he sees. So if he’s fooled by some appearance, too bad for him — he’s been deceived.

Remember: when a man calls the truth false, he doesn’t harm the truth, he just deceives himself. Be mindful of this and you’ll treat your abusers more gently. Remind yourself by saying: “This poor fellow has been tricked by appearances.”

43.

Every event has two handles: the handle you can carry it with and the handle you can’t carry it with.

For example, if your brother wrongs you, don’t take hold of his deed by the handle of his mistake. You can’t carry it with this handle. Rather, take hold of the opposite handle: that he’s your brother. Then you can carry it.

44.

These thoughts hold no water:

  • “I’m better than you because I’ve got more money”
  • “I’m better than you because I’m more eloquent.”

The person who says these things isn’t better — he just has more money or better words. But a man is more than money and words.

45.

Does someone take short baths? Then don’t say he doesn’t bathe enough. Say he takes short baths.

Does someone drink a lot? Then don’t say he drinks too much. Say he drinks a lot.

Remember, unless you know exactly why someone does something, you don’t know enough to criticize him. Be mindful of this and you won’t criticize what you don’t fully understand.

46.

Never call yourself a philosopher or give philosophical advice when in the company of less-educated people. Instead, act according to the advice you would give them.

For example, at dinner don’t tell people the proper way to eat; just eat properly. Socrates acted this way and thus avoided ostentation. When people came to him and asked to meet certain philosophers, he assisted them and didn’t even mention he was a philosopher himself.

When you hear unlearned people talking about philosophical topics, don’t speak. Hold your tongue and listen. If you speak, there’s always the chance you might throw out something you haven’t quite digested.

Remember: sheep don’t show the shepherd how much grass they’ve eaten by vomiting it up for him to see. No, they digest it inwardly and then produce wool and milk outwardly. You should do the same with your philosophy — digest it first inwardly and then let it manifest itself outwardly in your acts. Don’t explain your philosophy, embody it.

Remember: the day someone tells you how little you know and you appreciate their words is the day you gain true wisdom.

47.

When you reach the point where you can live comfortably on very little, don’t make a show of it. Don’t, for example, point out how you drink water while everyone else drinks wine. If you want to train yourself to endure hardship, then do it alone and for yourself. Don’t show off. Don’t cling to cold statues in the town square, like Diogenes did.

If you want to confront your thirst, then sip a little water and then spit it out before swallowing. But do it secretly, so only you know the trials you bear.

48.

A fool lives his life expecting things from others. A master only expects things from himself.

A master doesn’t criticize, praise, blame, complain, accuse or boast. When he is frustrated, he blames himself. When he is praised, he laughs inside at the praiser. When he is criticized, he makes no defense. He goes about his actions with the caution of an injured man, careful not to move any bones that haven’t quite set. He suppresses his desires and avoids fearing things he can’t control. He is gentle. If he appears stupid or ignorant, he doesn’t care.

Above all, a master keeps a wary eye on himself — as an enemy lying in ambush.

49.

If someone boasts about being able to understand books by Chrysippus, remember that the person wouldn’t have anything to boast about if Chysippus hadn’t written so obscurely.

What does a master want? He wants to understand nature and follow it. Maybe Chrysippus did understand nature and then happened to write an interpration you can’t understand. Should you then seek an interpreter of Chrysippus’ interpretation. What can you possibly gain at that point? Studying the interpretations of interpretations, whether of Chrysippus or of Homer, is the job of grammarians and linguists, not philosophers.

Philosophers should seek to make use of Chrysippus’ original advice, and not squabble over interpretations of it. If someone asks you to read Chrysippus’ writings, you shouldn’t take pride in your ability to interpret them. Rather, you should blush if you can’t live up to what they prescribe.

50.

Make your own moral rules and then abide by them as if they are universal law, as if you’d be guilty of impiety for violating them. Forget what people say or might say about you. That is of no concern to you.

Accept that you are worthy of the highest improvements a man can make to himself — that you are worthy of your own reasoning.

You already know all the theorems you need. So what are you waiting for? Who are you waiting for? Are you expecting some master to come along and convince you the time for delay is over and that you can now start reforming yourself?

Grow up! Be a man.

If you choose negligence, sloth, procrastination and delay then you deserve your despicable life. You deserve what you accept.

You must decide now in this moment that you are worthy of development and advancement. You must affirm virtue to be your own inviolable law. Come pleasure or pain, come glory or disgrace, you will stand firm and be ready for battle.

No doubt, you will suffer setbacks. But if you give up because of them, you will be defeated. If you persevere through them, you will gain the world. Socrates lived this way, and though you are no Socrates, you should never stop striving to live like him.

51.

Typically a philosopher will:

  1. say how we ought to live — for example: “we shouldn’t lie”
  2. demonstrate where such obligations come from — “we shouldn’t lie because of this, this and this…”
  3. make commentary about the other two

He will define terms like “demonstration” and talk about the consequences, contradictions, truths and falsehoods of his definitions. The third act follows from the second and the second from the first. But the first act remains the most essential and necessary to philosophy. It is upon the first act that we must focus the bulk of our energy and concentration.

But we don’t. We spend most our time on the third and neglect the first. For example, we go about lying all day long while simultaneously being proud of our ability to explain exactly why lying is wrong.

52.

Keep these thoughts ready for all occasions:

Lead me Zeus and you O Destiny wherever you see fit. I’ll follow cheerfully and not hesitate, and even when I don’t want to follow because of my weaknesses, I’ll follow still.
~Cleanthes

Whoever harmonizes his life with necessity is counted wise among men, And knows the laws of heaven.
~Euripides

0 Crito, if it thus pleases the gods, let it thus be.”“You may indeed kill me, but you will never harm me.
~Socrates

THE END

* This new version of “The Handbook” was arranged & edited by Joshua Parkinson in 2007