Epictetus Vs. Bertrand Russell: A Good Life

In this dialogue, the teacher (Epictetus) shows the student how to live.  The student (Bertrand Russell) argues for more (Being A Citizen Of The World), the benefits of the impersonal ‘scientific method’ and ‘The Duty Of A Philosopher In This Age’.

The teacher argues that he has no control over the world, method in philosophy, or anything beyond his ‘will’.  They summarize their arguments without naming rules (syllogisms) because the teacher is adamant about knowing yourself before becoming a political animal that uses such tools to fool others like (the rhetorician or) a politician does when exclaiming one position to a friend and another to an enemy.  Yet, at loggerheads the two finally agree that all public debate is only a way to persuade people and that the goal of true philosophy is to teach others to heal themselves.

Epictetus:  My students are usually young in physical age.

Bertrand Russell:  I am like you, mature in age and manner.

E:  Yet, you claim people ‘should’ become citizens of the world.

BR:  I do, because they must be their best selves to heal and express all they know of themselves.

E:  Yet, a teacher will show at least himself.  We need to be disconcerting about what is in our power and what is not.  The gods have given us the good use of impressions.  Our will be done.  No one can take my decisions away from me.  Yes, they can take my material things, my body, and soul through want of torture.  But I decide what is right or proper use of impressions.

Concerning the necessity of logic, we must analyse logic.  Yet, there is nothing superior to reason.  Yet it is important to attend to our passions, our opinion and the rest.  Chryseppus say what the will of nature will be, others explain things in latten,  neither authority or intellect can explain these things.  No one can force us to do anything we choose not to do.  Logic is not a way to trick someone, that is why will is of paramount importance, it is ‘the proper use of impressions’ we must teach ourselves.  I can guide your hand, I can not force you to move it, learn it, or use it.

BR:  I believe as you believe.  But is not persuasion better than force?  We must show the world our citizenship with debate over our duty as philosophers.

E:  I think that it is a doctor that guides his patients to allow the body to heal itself.  To be a doctor takes long study in the proper use of impressions.!

BR:  It is lucky for you, I have my doctorate of philosophy.

E:  I’m sorry, but you are under the wrong impression.  I am not talking about an academic degree.


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