The Discourses of Epictetus, tr. by P.E Matheson, , at sacred-texts.com
There are three departments 3-3 in which a man who is to be good and noble must be trained. The first concerns the will to get and will to avoid; he must be trained not to fail to get what he wills to get nor fall into what he wills to avoid. The second is concerned with impulse to act and not to act, and, in a word, the sphere of what is fitting: that we should act in order, with due consideration, and with proper care. The object of the third is that we may not be deceived, and may not judge at random, and generally it is concerned with assent.
Of these the most important and the most pressing is the first, which is concerned with strong emotions, for such emotion does not arise except when the will to get or the will to avoid fails of its object. This it is which brings with it disturbances, tumults, misfortunes, bad fortunes, mournings, lamentations, envies; which makes men envious and jealous—passions which make us unable to listen to reason.
The second is the sphere of what is fitting: for I must not be without
feeling like a statue, but must maintain my natural and acquired relations, as a religious man, as son, brother, father, citizen.
The third department is appropriate only for those who are already making progress, and is concerned with giving certainty in the very things we have spoken of, so that even in sleep or drunkenness or melancholy no untested impression may come upon us unawares.
'This', says a pupil, 'is beyond us.'
But the philosophers of to-day have disregarded the first and second departments, and devote themselves to the third—variable premisses, syllogisms concluding with a question, hypothetical syllogisms, fallacious arguments.
'Of course,' he says, 'when a man, is engaged on these subjects he must take pains to escape being deceived.' But whose business is it to do this? It is only for the man who is already good.
In logic then you fall short: but have you reached perfection in other subjects? Are you proof against deceit in regard to money? If you see a pretty girl, do you resist the impression? If your neighbour comes in for an inheritance, do you not feel a twinge? Do you lack nothing now but security of judgement? Unhappy man, even while you are learning this lesson you are in an agony of terror lest some one should think scorn of you, and you ask whether any one is talking about you! And if some one comes and tells you, 'We were discussing who was the best philosopher, and one who was there said, "There is only one philosopher, So-and-so (naming you)"', straightway your poor little four-inch soul shoots up to two cubits! Then if another who is by says, 'Nonsense! It is not worth while to listen to So-and-so: what does he know? He has the first rudiments, nothing more', you are beside yourself, and grow pale and cry out at once, 'I will show him the man I am, he shall see I am a great philosopher.' Why, the facts themselves are evidence; why do you want to show it by something else? Do you not know that Diogenes pointed out one of the sophists thus, making a vulgar gesture? Then, when the man was furious, 'That is So-and-so,' said he, 'I have shown him to you.' A man is not indeed like a stone or a log, that you can show what he is by just pointing a finger, but you show what he is as a man, when you show what are his judgements.
Let us look at your judgements too. Is it not clear that you set no value on your will, but look outside to things beyond your will?—what So-and-so will say, what men will think of you, whether they will think you a scholar, one who has read Chrysippus or Antipater, for if you have read them and Archedemus as well, you have read everything. Why are you still in agony, lest you should fail to show us what manner of man you are? Would you like me to say what manner of man you showed yourself to us? A man who comes before us mean, critical, quick-tempered,
cowardly, blaming everything, accusing every one, never quiet, vainglorious—that is what you showed us! Go away now and read Archedemus; then if a mouse fall and make a noise, you die of fright! For the same sort of death awaits you, as—whom shall I say?—Crinis! He too was proud of understanding Archedemus!
Unhappy man, will you not leave these things alone, which do not concern you? They are suited only to those who can learn them without confusion, to those who are able to say, 'I feel no anger, pain, or envy; I am under no hindrance, no constraint. What is left for me to do? I have leisure and peace of mind. Let us see how we ought to deal with logical changes: let us see how one may adopt a hypothesis and not be led to an absurd conclusion.'
These are matters well enough for men like that. It is fitting for sailors who are in good trim to light a fire, and take their dinner, if luck serves, and to sing and dance: but you come to me when the ship is sinking and begin hoisting the topsails!