The Logical Yardstick

If we do not fully learn and accurately examine the criterion by which things are learned, how shall we be able to examine accurately and learn fully anything else? "Yes, but the weight scale is only a machine, it produces nothing itself." But it is a thing which can measure grain. "Logic and philosophy also produce no fruit." As to this indeed we shall see: but it is enough that logic has the power of distinguishing and examining other things, and, as we may say, of measuring and weighing them.

The argument goes on. The student wants to do something, wants to see immediate improvement. He doesn't see how understanding philosophy helps him to make progress in this direction. Epictetus continues to drum home the idea that measuring is useful in transactions involving grain, and the mind's capacity to impose order on the world is useful for the same reason. It allows the individual to gauge the value of various actions and objects.

Chapter 17:

  1. The Logical Art is Necessary
  2. Logic and Philosophy (17a)
  3. The Logical Yardstick (17b)
  4. The Role of Authority (17c)
  5. Reason, Faith, and Understanding (17d)
  6. Reason Coupled with Faith (17e)
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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