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Of Human Freedom by Epictetus

Of Human Freedom

by Epictetus

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I like the philosophical content of these essays better than the actual presentation. Having recently read Seneca, I can't help feeling that Epictetus comes off as fairly arrogant in laying out his theses. In my view, presenting advice in the form of "if you do x, how can you believe you will ever reach y, you stupid donkey" is not very pedagogical (I'm paraphrasing but the tone is the same). I've heard Epictetus style being described as "demanding", and I'd say that's an understatement. In my opinion, Seneca presents practical stoicism in a both more rhetorically skillful and humble manner. The lengthiest essay of this volume, "On Freedom" is probably the highlight, but for me it is not until the end of said essay that it picks up and becomes memorable. The concluding essay "To those intent of living quietly" was by far my favourite of the shorter ones, while several left no impression at all. I'm a bit disappointed, as I had high hopes for Epictetus. ( )
  backlund | Aug 25, 2014 |
This has been languishing on my shelf for far too long. And it's an awfully small book so I made it my first read for my 2014 TBR Pile Challenge.

All in all, a nice little read. I like Epictetus and this translation was fantastic. It comes across as light and playful and then it hits you with something profound - like "Is that your plan? Then go and jump in the lake and take your ridiculous plan with you."

Okay, that one is just funny. But there are some great lines. Like "In general, remember that it is wee who torment, we who make difficulties for ourselves - that is, our opinions do" and my absolute favourite of "Reading should serve the goal of attaining peach; if it doesn't make you peaceful, what good is it?" ( )
  janeycanuck | Jan 16, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141192356, Paperback)

In this personal and practical guide to moral self-improvement and living a good life, the second-century philosopher Epictetus tackles questions of freedom and imprisonment, stubbornness and fear, family, friendship and love, and leaves an intriguing document of daily life in the classical world. "Great Ideas": throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:08 -0400)

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