Monday, February 5, 2024

On the art of living.............

      According to Epictetus, the primary concern of philosophy should be the art of living:  Just as wood is the medium of the carpenter and bronze is the medium of the sculptor, your life is the medium on which you practice the art of living.  Furthermore, much as a master carpenter teaches an apprentice by showing him techniques that can be used to build things out of wood, Epictetus taught his students the art of life by showing them techniques that could be used to make something of their life.  The techniques in question were quite practical and completely applicable to students' everyday lives.  He taught them, among other things, how to respond to insults, how to deal with incompetent servants, how to deal with an angry brother, how to deal with the loss of a loved one, and how to deal with exile.  If they could master these techniques, Epictetus promised, they would experience a life that was filled with purpose and dignity, and more important, they would attain tranquility.  Furthermore, they would retain their dignity and tranquility regardless of the hardships life might subsequently inflict on them.

-William B. Irvine, A Guide to the Good Life (the ancient art of stoic joy)

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