Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Epictetus: Against the Academics

- It's hard to change a man's opinion when he refuses to accept the truth set in front of him, and arguments won't sway such a person because he is hardened "like a stone."

- There are two ways of being hardened: one when a man isn't able to understand, and the other when he's won't go back on what he previously said, to withdraw from a position he already took, because he is dead to modesty and shame (about the mistake). This latter one is sometimes mistakenly considered power or strength by people who don't see the damage it does to one's character.

- There's no arguing with he who pretends not to perceive; there's no torture that will show him he is hardened. He pretends not to notice what he perceives to be true, to avoid feeling bad.

- But there's worse: the man who sees it, and allows himself to perceive it, but won't improve himself.


I laughed over and over while reading this aloud to my husband in the car on the commute home today. I've certainly dealt with these people, one just yesterday in fact.

Keeping an open mind is important, because I could have made a mistake, or new information could change a situation enough that I would change my opinion. And getting it right is more important than having been right in the first place, so making a mistake is a reason to improve myself, not to pretend I didn't make it.

I understand why my friend recommended Epictetus to me. :P


D. said...

That makes sense. May I link?

Kai Jones said...

Yes, thanks for asking. I'm working from a 2006 edition of The Discourses published by NuVision Publications, LLC.