Page:Discourses of Epictetus volume 1 Oldfather 1925.djvu/28

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thing for man, since from failing to attain one's desire, and from encountering what one would avoid, come all the passions and sorrows of mankind. In every desire or aversion there is implicit a value-judgement concerning the good or evil of the particular thing involved, and these in turn rest upon general judgements (δόγματα) regarding things of value. If we are to make the proper use of our freedom in the field of desire or aversion we must have the correct judgements concerning good and evil. Now the correct judgement is, that nothing outside the realm of our moral purpose is either good or evil. Nothing, therefore, of that kind can rightly be the object of desire or aversion, hence we should restrict the will to the field in which alone it is free, and cannot, therefore, come to grief. But herein we need not merely the correct theoretical conviction, but also continual practice in application (ἄσκησις), and it is this which Epictetus attempts to impart to his pupils, for it is the foundation of his whole system of education.

Finally, in the field of choice or refusal belongs the duty[1] (τὸ καθῆκον) of man, his intelligent action in human and social relations. Externals, which are neither good nor evil, and so indifferent (ἀδιάφορα), because not subject to our control, play a certain role, none the less, as matters with which we have to deal, indeed, but should regard no more seriously than players treat the actual ball with which they play, in comparison with the game itself. It is characteristic of Epictetus that, although he recognizes this part of Stoic doctrine in which the theoretical indifference of externals is in practice

  1. On the use of this term, cf. More, p. 116, 12.