Epictetus’s 3 Areas Of Training — My Stoic Musings 027

“There are three areas in which the person who would be wise and good must be trained. The first has to do with desires and aversions —…

“There are three areas in which the person who would be wise and good must be trained. The first has to do with desires and aversions — that a person may never miss the mark in desires nor fall into what repels them. The second has to do with impulses to act and not to act — and more broadly, with duty — that a person may act deliberately for good reasons and not carelessly. The third has to do with freedom from deception and composure and the whole area of judgment, the assent our mind gives to its perceptions. Of these areas, the chief and most urgent is the first which has to with the passions, for strong emotions arise only when we fail in our desires and aversions.” — Epictetus, Discourses, 3.2.1–3a

Epictetus reminds us about the three areas in our life that we must carefully and deliberately train ourselves in and improve. He tells us to train our minds to control our desires and our aversions. What we desire can be our making or our breaking. Hence, we must keep our desires in check with our moral judgment. Secondly, he tells us to control our actions as well as our inactions. We must act carefully. Finally, we must keep our own judgment in check. We must always keep our moral judgment in tandem with good reasoning. These three things are not mutually exclusive and are connected with each other. Fault in one of them would be the wrecking of our being.


This article is a part of my Stoic Musings challenge, inspired by the book “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman, where I take a quote from the book and reflect on it, every day.