July 13, 2017 - Ancient Stoicism in Plain English
Gain Real Life Experience And Expertise (Epictetus’ In Plain English. Discourses II.4)
Key ideas of this discourse
We don’t need to seek other people’s recommendations. If others are capable of judging us they will do so. If they are not, recommendations won’t help anyway.
We are not able judge life situations correctly because we lack knowledge and experience.
Others’ recommendations are unnecessary
When someone asked Diogenes for a letter of recommendation, he gave him an excellent answer.
“At first glance he will know you are a man. He will also know whether you are good or bad, if he has the ability to distinguish the two. But if he doesn’t, he will not discover it, even if I write a thousand letters.”
Experience and expertise lead to correct judgement
It is like a coin asking for a recommendation for person to declare it authentic. If the person in question is an assayer, the coin would speak for itself.
Lack of knowledge and ignorance lead to unstable judgments
An assayer says, “Bring me any coin you like, I will tell you if it is genuine or a fake.” We need a similar skill in life. I say, “Bring any logical argument to me. I will tell you if it is correct or not.” Why? Because I know how to analyze arguments and can judge whether the arguments presented to me are correct or not. But in life what do I do? I call something good today, bad tomorrow. Why? While I know logic, I lack real life knowledge and experience.
Think about this
Sometimes I call a thing good, and sometimes bad. What is the reason? … Ignorance and inexperience. [WO]