Simple Stoic Advice

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The beautiful thing about Stoic philosophy is the advice contained within it is just as applicable today as it was when it was first written all those many years ago. We can learn a great deal from interpreting the advice provided and using it to our advantage as we go throughout our own lives.

Today’s quote comes to us courtesy of Epictetus in his Enchiridion, entry 5 (translation from How to be Free):

Quote

“Uneducated people blame others when they are doing badly. Those whose education is underway blame themselves. But a fully educated person blames no one, neither himself nor anyone else.”

Advice

Entry five of the Enchiridion is perhaps one of the most famous of all of Epictetus’ work as it starts with the phrase:

“It is not the things themselves that disturb men, but their judgements about these things.”

To Epictetus, the uneducated were individuals who did not study philosophy. The Stoics viewed knowledge as a continual life-long process of learning.

Epictetus also summarizes this in entry 46:

“Don’t ever describe yourself as a philosopher or talk much among ordinary people about your philosophical principles; simply do what the principles prescribe.”

Too often, people read and regurgitate what they read, but they never put into practice the principles they read. This was a mistake according to the Stoics and Epictetus himself believed one should in fact do the opposite; one should practice their philosophy rather than speak it and allow one’s actions to speak for themselves.

Someone who has studied philosophy has come to understand, according to the Stoics, that the judgments we place on items is what causes us frustration, pain, and turmoil. It is only through studying philosophy that we awaken to this understanding.

Individuals who blame others choose to not take responsibility because they are not educated enough to understand the truth of their own actions and judgments. People who study philosophy turn the lens inward and blame themselves. But those who put their philosophical training into practice blames no one because they use the experience to learn and grow, they relinquish judgment of the situation and use it as a learning experience.

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