Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Epictetus: How a man should proceed....

How a man should proceed from the principle of G-d being the father of all men to the rest.

- We are a mixture of animal and divine. Choose to develop your divine nature, for we all have it.
- Evil, like savagery and fraud, arises out of the animal part of our nature. Take care not to do animal things.


Interesting association of evil with animals -- so different from now, when nature is perceived as pure and good while humans are evil and corrupting.


Kami said...

I think during his time there wasn't as much open evidence of nurturing among the animals. They got to see the death, violence and lack of mercy that goes hand in hand with subsistence survival. There also wasn't much motivation to observe them up close and personal for long periods of time. I don't think anyone had the combination of luxury and interest.

Having said that, violence is a predator animal thing that humans happen to apply their intelligence to in order to become even better predators. So I could see a human who preys mercilessly upon his fellow humans for resources s/he wants as animal. To step into the evil arena, though, something needs to go wrong and the animal or human needs to step out of the behavior norm and start attacking its own species or become wastefully violent (for example, killing without using the meat and in absence of a self-defense motivation, something that Rudyard Kipling brought up very neatly in his writing.) This is an aberration both in animals and humans, but someone who isn't a pretty cunning naturalist wouldn't necessarily see the restraint that animals have among their own kind and sometimes even toward members of other species.

So how would the wolves that raised Romulus and Remus be viewed? As following a human or spiritual path rather than an animal one?

Kai Jones said...

I was reading it as related to Epictetus not wanting to be like animals; he's already expressed his preference for non-physical pleasures like analysis and thought over the physical pleasures. I don't know enough about Roman culture of his time to know whether the animals were actually thought of as evil.