The Enchiridion - Part 3

Now things start to get challenging.

With regard to whatever objects give you delight, are useful, or are deeply loved, remember to tell yourself of what general nature they are, beginning from the most insignificant things. If, for example, you are fond of a specific ceramic cup, remind yourself that it is only ceramic cups in general of which you are fond. Then, if it breaks, you will not be disturbed.

So far, so good. Use your reason to become less attached to your posessions. But then we get to:

If you kiss your child, or your wife, say that you only kiss things which are human, and thus you will not be disturbed if either of the dies.

I'm pretty sure Epictetus put this in just to throw people off. In later parts, dealing with grief and loss is handled with much more sublety. Despite it's bluntness though, this advice is consistent with what weve been discussing so far. Loss of loved ones is not something we can control; in fact it's inevitable. Although I think Epictetus is being hyperbolic when he says that we should not be disturbed at all, getting used to the idea of death and loss is a large part of Stoic practice.

comments powered by Disqus