Epictetus part 23: Being a Philosopher

This article is part of the weekly Epictetus series. New articles will be published every Monday.

In the previous article, we have seen that a true philosopher is persisent in his chase of a good life. He doesn’t wander from his path because of the mockery of others. In this paragraph, Epictetus builds on that idea. He says this:

If it ever happens that your attention is turned towards externals to satisfy the wishes of somebody, know that you have lost your way. Be satisfied in everything to be a philosopher, and if you wish to appear as one, appear so to yourself and you will be satisfied.

Your compass in life should point to what is good, not what is desired (no matter whether these are your own desires or those of others). Your actions should not aim to satisfy people, but to help them. And for yourself: you will find that following the right path is enough satisfaction in and of itself. This path, according to Epictetus, is the path of a philosopher (which might be interpreted as the ideal sage). Appearance is unimportant: your actions are what counts. Follow the path that is in accordance with Nature. And go along on your Stoic Journey.

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