CHAPTER 5: Against the Academics

If a man opposes evident truths it is not easy to find arguments by which we shall make him change his opinion. But this does not arise either from the man's strength or the teacher's weakness. For when the man, though he has been confuted, is hardened like a stone, how shall we then be able to deal with such a person by argument?

One of the calls of the Christian is to be an evangelist. This means talking about faith and belief to others. Stoics, though they were not shy about talking about their beliefs, were not quite as adamant about making converts to their philosophy. However, when Epictetus took on a student, he was determined to teach him. He also understood that by improving another individual's life he was improving his own life and the lives of those in society in general.

A road-block to spreading the word about the Gospel is that some people refuse to listen. No matter how honed your argument and fervent your explanation their minds are unable to accept the truth. This is reminiscent of the parable of the sower. In Luke (8: 4-8) Jesus tells us that certain seeds will land on unfertile ground, and try as we might, we will never succeed in making plants grow there simply by throwing seeds about. The ground in this case must be prepared.

When the barren field is a hardened mind, Epictetus asks, "How shall we deal with such a person?"

Chapter 5:

  1. Against the Academics
  2. Hardening of Understanding (5a)
  3. Are You Awake? (5b)
Stoicism and Christianity Index

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This is a translation and explanation of the first book of the Discourses of Epictetus. His words are in regular text, comments are in bold.

Biographical Information on Epictetus

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