Epictetus
Epictetus


Objective Truth

But suppose that he who has the power has declared, "I judge you to be impious and profane." What has happened to you? "I have been judged to be impious and profane!" Nothing else? "Nothing else." But if the same person had passed judgment on a hypothetical syllogism, and had made a declaration, "the conclusion that, if it is day, it is light, I declare to be false," What has happened to the hypothetical syllogism? Who is judged in this case? Who has been condemned - the hypothetical syllogism, or the man who has been deceived by it? Does he, then, who has the power of making any declaration about you know what is pious or impious? Has he studied it, and has he learned it? Where? From whom? Then is it the fact that a musician pays no regard to him who declares that the lowest chord in the lyre is the highest. Nor yet a geometrician, if he declares that the lines from the center of a circle to the circumference are not equal. Shall he who is really instructed pay any regard to the uninstructed man when he pronounces judgment on what is pious and what is impious, on what is just and what is unjust? Oh, the signal wrong done by the instructed. Did they learn this here?

This paragraph deals with two ideas. First, there is objective truth. Second, when someone says something counter to objective truth, we are free to disregard it. Thus, when someone passes judgment upon us that bears no relation to the truth we can disregard it. When someone proposes a theory of living that runs counter to the truth of the Way we can disregard it.

Chapter 29:

  1. On Constancy and Courage
  2. Do Philosophers Despise Kings? (2a)
  3. Opinions (2b)
  4. The Stronger and the Weaker (2c)
  5. Anytus and Meletus (2d)
  6. Superior Principles (2e)
  7. Child-Like Minds (2f)
  8. Like an Athlete (2g)
  9. Facing Adversity (2h)
  10. Might for Right (2i)
  11. Objective Truth (2j)
  12. Exhortation to Action (2k)
  13. The Runaway Slave (2l)
  14. Summary - Stoicism and Christianity (2m)
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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