Philosophy: Epictetus and Ethics

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People cannot control where they are born, the color of their skin, or who their parents are. They can control how they conduct themselves and the actions they take. Ethics encompass morality and the principles of right and wrong. In order for society to prosper we need ethical people working together toward a goal of integrity and compassion. Everyone has circumstances in their lives that they can and cannot control and knowing that is the key to living in harmony with themselves and others. Epictetus was a Stoic philosopher who wrote, The Enchiridion, a manual which instructed people on how to live their life ethically and honorably on a social level. His belief was that regardless of personal conditions, people could live with pride and discipline. Epictetus tells us differentiating between what is in our own power to control and what is not is the key to a noble life (281). Epictetus emphasized that people should not worry over what they cannot control; they should concentrate on their behaviors they can control and change. Focusing on the negatives is not helpful. Spending time yearning for what someone else has is pointless. There are people born into wealth and others are born into poverty and this cannot be controlled. Epictetus recognized that whatever occupation someone chose was their decision; but they should do proudly and competently whatever they choose (283). For example, if a person wants to start their own business, Epictetus tells
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