Epictetus
Epictetus


CHAPTER 26: What is the Law of Life?

It is a hypothetical law that we must accept what follows from the hypothesis. But before this law we must reckon with the law of life. This law states that we must act conformably to nature. In every matter and circumstance we wish to observe what is natural. It is plain then that we ought to make it our aim that what is important shall not escape us, and that we do not admit the contradictory.

Remember that for Epictetus the law of nature is comparable to the law of God for the Christian. Epictetus here says that when we hypothesize or make conjectures about things that we often assume something is true simply for the sake of argument. Yet the assumption of truth does not make a conjecture true. Thus we have to act by God's law, whether we will or no. Because of this, it doesn't make any sense to make assumptions that are clearly untrue.

It is thought that there is only one originally American Philosophy. It is known as Pragmatism. It is the idea that truth can be found by seeing which ideas work. This sounds like a justification for the scientific method, advocating experimentation. But one of the founders of pragmatism, William James, did not see it this way. He felt that truth could be found outside of science by looking at the results of ideas and actions. He felt religion could easily be justified in this light. Thus, we can see that if the life of a Christian proves to be happier, more fulfilling and more beneficial to the individual as well as to mankind then it must contain truth.

Of course, this perspective does not delve into the theological aspects of Christianity. However, it gives us a new way of viewing the benefits of faith.

Chapter 26:

  1. What is the Law of Life?
  2. Theory Is Easy (26a)
  3. Philosophy at a Banquet (26b)
  4. The Reader (26c)
  5. Understanding Is the Beginning (26d)
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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