God’s Messenger is implicit in this dialogue about pride and reason. The real question is hidden from view. But the most important question is whether reason is enough to motivate one into a good practice or the ‘good life’. There is some askance as to the purpose of an authority, a pride in the work and the work itself. All is to be revealed through the ungainly providence and mystery of virtue and vice.
Socrates: I do not ask just a question. I do not just define terms. What I do is not important in any formal sense. I am asking you.
Student: Are you inferring that I think about the true meaning of this mystery, nature or Devine being? I can not call on nature or the Devine in a haphazard way.
Soc: Perhaps, you can call on reason with that question. Is reason the final, the absolute way of being? Does reason have a place in nature? Is the cosmos reasonable?
Stud: I can not say anything about reason, except that I use it. And I wish to learn from you to use it well.
Soc: Then listen to my question. What is the nature of reason? If there is a god, would it behoove him to be reasonable?
Stud: I have listened and thought what my great teacher has told me. He thinks you are good. He thinks you are speaking that way because God speaks through you. My teacher did continue by saying God also speaks through a raven. Lastly, he said, “He gives His sign through a most noble messenger.” He, my teacher, I mean Epictetus, believes in the proper use of impressions.
Soc: Your teacher talks too much or perhaps this is too difficult a topic to resolve. But let me speak plainer. A philosopher is like a messenger of God. He listens to all people. He listens especially to himself. He believes in using the proper use of impressions, mostly. He believes in using them mostly to acquire the reason to ‘decide’ what to be in this life. So, let me be blunt, what do you want to be?
Stud: I want to wake up from this dream and be the best student and best teacher that Epictetus has ever laid his immense faculty of reason on, in all his days.
Soc: I’m willing to comment on the faculty of reason and the pride you feel. Reason is the greatest faculty we have in our being. It is foolish to hold pride about its fashion or use. Yet, I am not willing to say pride or reason is an answer to all things Devine. If pride is to be used, it must be set aside in favour of more reason. Do you understand?
Stud: I will awake and use my reason to govern my impulse, to use the proper use of impressions. If a little pride escapes me in the process, so be it.
Soc: Sounds good, Am I just a dream?
Stud: I’m really dreaming or I’m going a little crazy. Time to get up and get on with the day.