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Epictetus Philosophy and Marion Jones - Essay Example

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Epictetus was a staunch Stoic philosopher of the Hellenistic era. His philosophy is manifest in two of his works, Discourses and the Handbook - composed by his student Arrian. According to Epictetus, life was meant to be lived philosophically and this life's end was eudaimonia which meant happiness…
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Epictetus Philosophy and Marion Jones
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Download file to see previous pages It is impossible to change destiny or even environment according to one's wishes. By trying to fight against the tide of predestined conditions, one creates misery for himself. To be able to accept situations as they are, it is essential to be devoid of emotions. To be attached to sentiments is to be attached to worldly things that are temporary. If we do not involve ourselves emotionally with anything, and accept what nature has to offer us, we can live in accordance and harmony with nature.
Two steps become important to keep ourselves in harmony with nature. The first step is to focus on our actions. Once we understand our actions, it becomes easier to respond appropriately. The second step is to understand the context in which the action occurred. The context helps us to comprehend why the actions happened. For both these factors to be useful, it is imperative that one detached from the situation and action and is able to clinically examine it. He implies this in his statement, "When you are about to undertake some action, remind yourself what sort of action it is." (Handbook 4, trans. Hard).
A human has no control over anything except himself. Epictetus believes that people need to maintain their prohairesis. This is known as a person's moral character. It essential to be self satisfied in order to maintain morality. Every problem that one faces in life should be seen as an opportunity to strengthen the prohairesis. Only then can humans achieve eudaimonia.
His theory and Jones
If we were to imagine a hypothetical situation of Epictetus meeting Jones before she took the performance enhancing drugs, we can safely assume that he would have been against the idea. Epictetus is very clear about his concept of Stoicism. Stoicism requires a pursuit of moral glorification. And it requires being true to one's nature. By using enhancers, Jones has strayed from the dictum of 'following nature'. One cannot act antagonistically to legal laws and remain true to herself. Epictetus would have advised Jones to understand and accept her shortcomings and not attempt to be 'contrary to nature.' He would have warned her that fame and success are material goals and she should not compromise her integrity and prohairesis for something so tangible. His reasoning might have compelled him to think that it was unacceptable on her part to try and outdo her capability.
However, Jones realizes this only much later, when she states in an interview that "I think that I absolutely should have to accept responsibility for breaking the law." But she does adhere to Epictetus eventually. She admits to drug abuse and pleads guilty. She accepts that she had been in the wrong and that to make mistakes is human. Jones does accept to her limitations, but only after she has been discovered and not before. If she were in sync with her integrity earlier, she would not have had to face the public humiliation. This proves that the pursuit of happiness through moral means is the best possible achievement in life and everything else is transitory. Even then, she manages to come to terms with her failure as an athlete and an influential figure. She tries to figure out how she can help others by her own experience. In this way, she has in someway, adhered to Epictetus' theory of reviewing one's actions.
Prison and realizations
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