Epictetus, from The Handbook


The first question of philosophy
is how to put philosophy into action.

Take this for instance:
“We ought not lie.”
Good philosophy!

Now ask a second question:
“Why shouldn’t we lie?”

Now, connect the dots
with a third question:
“How do we avoid lying?”

What are the consequences of this?
What are the contradictions?
Why is this a truth?

In this way the third point
is necessary because of
the second point, which
rests on the first.

Don’t we usually do
just the opposite—
focusing only on the first
point? This is why we lie
while all the while
saying lying is wrong.


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