DQ The goal of Epictetus’s stoic philosophy
The goal of Epictetus\’s stoic philosophy is to achieve ataraxia. His central thesis is that our emotions are based on our beliefs and desires. It is, according to Epictetus, our beliefs and desires that cause us to experience the emotions we experience, not the world or our circumstances.
A belief consists in taking something to be true. A desire is simply wanting something; for example, a Ford Bronco. Since we can change our beliefs and desires, we can free ourselves of our negative emotions such as fear, hatred, rage, anger, disappointment, envy, sadness, etc., by thinking and desiring differently. Write an essay addressing the following points:
1) briefly explain Epictetus\’s thesis as to how we can free ourselves from the negative emotions that destroy our ataraxia or tranquility.
2) Apply Epictetus\’s philosophy to a specific episode in your life that was upsetting and produced negative emotions of some kind. When doing this you should
a) describe the situation, and
b) describe the emotions you experienced (anger, disappointment, sadness, rage, fear, etc). Once you have done this,
3) analyze the beliefs and desires that generated these emotions. For example, in Lecture 6 I discuss how I experienced a lot of anger about my long commute. According to Epictetus, it wasn\’t the traffic that caused this anger, but my desire to have my time, and my beliefs that other drivers were behaving purposefully and that I could take various actions to change their behavior (notice how detailed I am in my description in the lecture. This is what I\’m looking for from you! Detail!). look at the thoughts and wants that led to these feelings. For example, in Lecture 6, I talk about how my long commute made me very angry. Epictetus says that it wasn’t the traffic that made me angry, but my need for my own time and my belief that other drivers were acting on purpose and that I could do different things to change their behavior (notice how specific I am in the lecture). This is what I want you to give me! Detail!).
4) Then discuss how you might change your beliefs and desires to free yourself of these painful emotions and produce a different emotional response. Here you should be very precise and specific, saying exactly what you would change in your thought process.
If you say \”I would change how I think\” you will receive no credit as that\’s far too general.
How, exactly, would you change how you think? What new thoughts would you adopt? Be specific!
To complete this assignment you will need to carefully read Lecture 6 and Sections I – XX of Epictetus\’s Enchiridion.
The majority of your essay should be in your own words, however, you may quote from the Enchiridion and Lecture 6. If you do quote from this material you must first introduce the author
(According to Descartes, \”…\” (Meditations, pg. x), or According to Professor Bryant, \”…\” (Lecture 7, pg. 3).
You must then explain the quote in your own words.
Failure to do this is plagiarism and will be reported to the Dean of Students for an investigation.
If found guilty you will receive a grade of zero for the exam and be required to count it towards your final grade (you will not be permitted to drop it at the end of the semester). Your essay should be 600 – 900 words long.