Epictetus

“Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of things…When, therefore, we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never blame anyone but ourselves; that is, our own judgments.” The Enchiridon (5)

Epictetus propounded the view that the human capacity for choice makes us accountable for our actions and our internal states. He referred to this capacity as “volition”. The sphere of volition is  composed of our attitudes, intentions, convictions, and actions. These are the things that define us and are ultimately the only things over which we have control. Accordingly, the freedom to govern our own nature comes with the opportunity and the responsibility to honor this gift.

For Epictetus, the freedom to make choices of our own account is an inalienable right. It is ours in virtue of being human, and affords us a kinship with the very same power that governs the universe.

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