Epictetus
Epictetus


CHAPTER 18: The Mistakes of Others

If what philosophers say is true, all men are guided by their viewpoint. They agree if they see that a thing is so, and disagree if they perceive a thing is not so. They suspend judgment if a thing is uncertain. They will move toward anything they see is to their advantage. For it is impossible to think that one thing is advantageous and to desire another. They cannot judge one thing to be proper and do something else. How then can we be angry with the masses who disagree with us? "They are thieves and robbers," you may say. "They are mistaken about good and evil." Ought we then to be angry with them, or to pity them? What we should do is show them their error. Then you will see how they desist from their errors. If they do not see their errors, they will remain ignorant of higher possibilities.

The mass of humanity is often mistaken in its actions because its views are based on faulty information. At least this is what Epictetus would have us believe. Christians would agree with this to a degree. It is a firmly held belief that the reason the world is not a better place is that more people have not embraced the Way of Jesus. In fact, one of the underpinning ideas of evangelism is to bring the necessary information to every person in the world one person at a time.

Epictetus tells us that no matter what we do or say, some persons will not be persuaded that there is a better way. They cling to their ignorance or the faulty information they already possess. This can be a problem in a modern world where the media is cluttered with all manner of information to distract individuals from the true Way.

Chapter 18:

  1. The Mistakes of Others
  2. Evil Is Ignorance (18a)
  3. The Value of Property (18b)
  4. Exercising the Will (18c)
  5. Who Is Invincible? (18d)
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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