In the Enchiridion, Epictetus seems suggest that goodness and badness are not “in” the world. They are “in” our reactions.

For example he says that, “Death, for instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death that it is terrible.”

What does this view amount to?

More specifically does anyone have any interpretations as to what is wrong with this quoted argument?

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    This is basically the stoic point of view . For example a normal person will panic or feel sad if he is ill . A stoic will say that there is no point in being sad or panicked . If there is a cure for your illness then take the medicine and stop complaining . If there exists no cure then your complaining is not going to change your condition . This view is one of the reasons why some would regard the stoics as emotionally very cold
    – shrey
    Nov 14, 2016 at 5:32
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    Your questions about the Epictetus quote are a little vague and unclear to me. Can you make your question more specific? e.g. Can you explain why you think there is something wrong with the Epictetus argument you quoted? I'm sorry but I'm just not clear about what the question is asking, so if you can expand or be more specific it would help
    – GBH
    Nov 15, 2016 at 13:59

1 Answer 1


See Epicurus' Psychology and Ethics :

For Epicurus, there are some fears that are perfectly legitimate; so too are some desires. Epicurus offers a classification of desires into three types: some are natural, others are empty; and[...] Natural and necessary are those that look to happiness, physical well-being, or life itself. [...] Empty desires are those that have as their objects things designated by empty sounds, such as immortality, which cannot exist for human beings and do not correspond to any genuine need. The same holds for the desire for great wealth or for marks of fame, such as statues: they cannot provide the security that is the genuine object of the desire. Such desires, accordingly, can never be satisfied, any more than the corresponding fears — e.g., the fear of death — can ever be alleviated, since neither has a genuine referent, i.e., death as something harmful (when it is present, we do not exist) or wealth and power as salves for anxiety. Such empty fears and desires, based on what Epicurus calls kenodoxia or empty belief, are themselves the main source of perturbation and pain in civilized life, where more elementary dangers have been brought under control, since they are the reason why people are driven to strive for limitless wealth and power, subjecting themselves to the very dangers they imagine they are avoiding.

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