Talk:Epictetus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject Classical Greece and Rome (Rated Start-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is part of the WikiProject for Classical Greece and Rome, a group of contributors who write Wikipedia's Classics articles. If you would like to join the WikiProject or learn how to contribute, please see our project page. If you need assistance from a classicist, please see our talk page.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
 
WikiProject Biography (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Biography, a collaborative effort to create, develop and organize Wikipedia's articles about people. All interested editors are invited to join the project and contribute to the discussion. For instructions on how to use this banner, please refer to the documentation.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 
WikiProject Philosophy (Rated Start-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Philosophy, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of content related to philosophy on Wikipedia. If you would like to support the project, please visit the project page, where you can get more details on how you can help, and where you can join the general discussion about philosophy content on Wikipedia.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.
 
WikiProject Greece (Rated Start-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Greece, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Greece on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
 

Untitled[edit]

The suggestions that Epictetus would love the wikipedia are biased, and furthermore unencyclopedic. Therefore I have had them removed. -- Emsworth 00:31, Feb 5, 2004 (UTC)

Good idea[edit]

I agree that they should have been removed.

However, the statement is true; Epictetus would have loved wikipedia :)

I added a significant amount of new info, and revised the setup a bit.--Venerable Bede 01:58, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

"Epictetus Ji"[edit]

Who on earth is "Epictetus Ji" and where is this quote attributed to him from? There is some reference to an edition by "Nicholas White," but no page number; there needs to be a complete citation so people might actually be able to find it. Also, the POV statements about these being the "best" translations need to be backed up by something (e.g., "according to Prof. Al Devonshire's study of Epictetus, White's is the best current translation") and sourced, or the statements need to be deleted. -MollyTheCat 14:49, 19 May 2007 (UTC)

I removed the "Ji" from the article, and the sales pitch for the N. White translation. I also remove the tag. I have never seen the "Ji" used anywhere with Epictetus. I think it is an honorific used for in India of very respected individuals, particularly for Gurus. Kwork 21:10, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Greek or Roman?[edit]

"(He was a Greek philosopher)"

Mtevfrog, Epictetus was trained in Stoic philosophy in Rome by Musonius Rufus. That makes him a Roman Stoic. It is a question of location of training, not national origin, although there is no evidence at all of the ethic background of Epictetus. Zeno, who founded the Stoic school, is called a Greek philosopher although he is thought to have been Phoenician, and the reason he is called a Greek philosopher is because he was trained in philosophy in Athens.

In any case, if you thought I was in error, you should have discussed this with me before reverting my change. Kwork 00:44, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

More Greek than Roman[edit]

Here is a sample of sources:

  • Encyclopedia Britannica, entry for “Epictetus” begins: “Greek philosopher associated with the Stoics, remembered for the religious tone of his teachings, which commended him to numerous early Christian thinkers.”
  • Robert L. Arrington, Western Ethics: An Historical Introduction, p. 114: “Epictetus was a Greek who had been enslaved in a Roman household.”
  • Harry Elmer Barnes et al, An intellectual and cultural history of the Western world, p. 218: “Epictetus was a Greek slave who was given his freedom and afterwards taught

philosophy, first at Rome and later in Epirus.”

  • Paul Finkelman et al, Macmillan Encyclopedia of World Slavery, p. 313: “Epictetus was a Greek inhabitant inhabitant of the Roman Empire who became a prominent Stoic

philosopher.”

  • Anthony Arthur Long, Epictetus: A Stoic and Socratic Guide to Life, p. 113: "Like every Greek philosopher from Socrates onwards, Epictetus takes it to be axiomatic that every person desires happiness."
  • Lee Cameron MacDonald, Western Political Theory: From Its Origins to the Present, p. 72: “Epictetus was a Greek slave.”
  • David Sansone, Ancient Greek Civilization, p. 206: “Epictetus was a Greek slave in Rome whose Stoic teaching and writings greatly influenced several prominent Greeks and Romans of the second century after Christ, including Marcus Aurelius.”

Now, it is true that there are sources which call Epictetus a Roman philosopher. These sources are, however, mainly of a lower rank, or not about ancient philosophy or society. The grounds on which he can be called Roman are basically that he spent his youth in Rome and studied there. But about the only things we know for certain about him are his name (Greek, but acquired) and the language of his writings (Greek, but he didn't write the texts himself [although note that he lectured in Greek]). That all the texts are Greek is, however, itself a good argument for calling him a Greek philosopher, in the absence of other facts. Where he is born, for example, is not known with any certainty. In short, there are grounds for calling him a Greek and there are grounds for calling him a Roman. Wikipedia cannot solve this question, but the balance of good sources favours calling him a Greek. If you don't find these sources convincing, call him a Roman, but I think this would be a tendentious choice and not the best outcome for Wikipedia. Mtevfrog 01:12, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

Have you actually studied Stoic philosophy?; and particularly have you studied Epictetus? I worry when the sources that an editor considers superior are encyclopedias and general studies, such as is the case with all your sources. Those who have translated Epictetus, and who have studied for years to understand, do not call him a Greek. For instance, P. E. Matheson says in the introduction to his excellent translation of the Discourses (page viii): "Like many of the greatest he is almost unknown except his writings. From the scattered statements which have been collected from writers of the second and later centuries, based largely on his own writings, we learn that he was a slave to one Epaphroditus, a freedman of Nero, that he came from Hierapolis in Phrygia, and that he was lame." There is nothing more known about his origin. Phrygia was in Asia Minor, not Greece. There is no source to substantiate the statements that he was Greek. It is just research writers copying the mistake of an earlier research writer. The actual experts in Epictetus do not say he is Greek.
Another source, A.A. Long in his book Epictetus (p. 10): "Little is known of the details of Epictetus' life. He was born probably in the years AD 50-60 in Hierapolis, a major Graeco-Roman city in what is south-western Turkey, 100 miles due east of Ephesus, and connected with that great centre by a Roman road. Probably a slave by birth rather than seizure, he was acquired by Epaphroditus..." Again, nothing about his being Greek.
Since his ethnic origin is unknown, since he studied philosophy in Rome, and since he lived in the Roman part of the Hellenistic era, calling Epictetus Greek is deceptive.
In my view, the biggest problem with Wikipedia is that editors are editing in areas about which they know either little or nothing. Kwork 10:35, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
He was born in Hierapolis in Greek Asia Minor, he became famous as a philosopher in Greek Nicopolis, he taught in Greek and was written about in Greek - surely that should be enough to go with for calling him a Greek philosopher? --194.126.21.5 (talk) 00:03, 26 February 2008 (UTC)

Stiegler[edit]

I can not find anything that indicates that Stiegler was significantly influenced by Epictetus. If you can show some proof, I will be happy to see that section returned, if sources are added. Kwork 14:32, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

I provided a reference, in both English and French. Here, then, is a significant quotation: "One perceives with astonishment that, in that cell, one is much more free, or at least that liberty is much more accessible there, much purer, appearing then essentially as fragility, as what is intrinsically fragile, that which must be made the object of the whole of one's care, of a veritable cult, of a culture. This culture, which I have named, after Epictetus, my melete. [...] My melete was in reality an ensemble of disciplines. I would, for example, throughout those five years, begin each day by reading Mallarmé—I arose as soon as I awoke, to avoid those uncontrollable protentions which would occur as the waking reveries of the morning. Reading a poem, or reading and re-reading a prose text, usually for half an hour, not so as to learn it by heart, but to understand it. More generally, my melete came from readings leading to prolonged writing exercises in different modes, which came to form veritable reading-methods, which consisted in a process in which the texts read were catalogued, then transformed into commentaries, and finally consisted of writing, in which these remains of the world were reassembled: thus was produced reminiscence." Bernard Stiegler, "Philosophising by Accident," Public 33 (2006), pp. 104–5. Mtevfrog 15:13, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

The name Epictetus is mentioned in that quote, but nothing that says he was actually influenced by the Stoic teaching of Epictetus. It could be that, as a prisoner, Stiegeler just felt some kinship with the historic figure of Epictetus who had been a slave. If you can give a good reference, I will be happy to have the section returned. Kwork 15:30, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

The entire quotation is a discussion of that influence. The comparison with the Stockdale case is also interesting and revealing. Reading and writing exercises are a crucial aspect of the philosophy and philosophical technique of Epictetus. If you refuse to accept that influence, so be it, but you are wrong. Mtevfrog 15:35, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

I know Stockdale was influenced by Epictetus. I read his essay, and he mentions the importance of Stoicism in his life, and he particularly mentions the influence of Epictetus. I just do not see that in the quote from Stiegler you gave. You may be right that it is there, but that section needs a good source to prove it. Kwork 16:14, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

That's the source. If you "just do not see" what Stiegler is saying here, and insist on keeping out the section, then the article is the poorer for it. Mtevfrog 16:40, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

That source for Stiegler mentions Epictetus as a his muse, but not as a philosophical influence. They are far from being the same. Epictetus is an appealing historical figure, and he is liked for the example of his life by some people who hated his Stoic philosophy. Thomas Jefferson is an example: http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/jefferson_short.html. Kwork 17:08, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

Kwork, that source is the source. I do not understand your problem with the source. Stiegler does not say that Epictetus was his "muse," nor does he say he likes him "for the example of his life," and I do not understand what point you are trying to make. Stiegler was influenced by Epictetus's views on discipline, his views on reading, and his views on writing—in other words, Epictetus was an influence not just on Stiegler's philosophy, but on his very becoming a philosopher. That is what Stiegler is saying. As I mentioned, I simply do not grasp what your problem is. I understand that you are concerned to protect the encyclopedia from poor and partisan contributors, which is admirable, but you seem in this case to be preoccupied with something that in my opinion is quite straightforward. If you refuse to accept what I'm saying, there may be little I can do to persuade you, however it is my hope that you will not continue to edit out the contributions of other editors without being very sure that you are not removing a positive contribution to the encyclopaedia. The information you are contesting is factual and worthwhile. Please leave it in until you find some evidence that Stiegler was not influenced by Epictetus, because he most surely was. Thanks. Mtevfrog 22:58, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

Slavery Template[edit]

Epictetus is certainly known as a philosopher, his slavery seems to be just a minor biographical point. I don't see that the article needed the slavery template. Teltnuag 20:39, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

Ataraxia[edit]

Ataraxia was Epictetus', and the Stoics', ideal model of eudamonia, or "happiness and fulfillment."

"Ataraxia" is primarily an Epicurean word. Epictetus was a Stoic, and their version of complete eudamonia was "Apatheia", not Ataraxia; the two are not identical. Is it okay to rewrite this section, or does anyone object? Ademska (talk) 19:23, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

Go ahead and rewrite it. Epictetus, does, I think, occasionally use the word ataraxia, but never as the "ideal model of eudamonia." Singinglemon (talk) 15:29, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Thought[edit]

I replaced the rather short and garbled stuff (see above) on Epictetus' philosophy with an account drawn (mostly) from Heinrich Ritter. This is an old source now, but I was quite selective in picking which bits from his 25 page account of Epictetus to use, and there are plenty of primary references to back it up. Ritter was the main source used for the philosophy section for the Musonius Rufus page, and it worked quite well there, so I thought a similar approach would represent an improvement on the silly ataraxia stuff we had on this page. Singinglemon (talk) 22:50, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

Arrian and Epictetus[edit]

It seems from the article that Epictetus only appears in the writings of Arrian, and it is not made clear how we know that he was a real person and not a literary character. Can anyone provide a reliable source with the argument or evidence for his historical existence? This needs to go in the article. Gregcaletta (talk) 09:24, 3 June 2011 (UTC)