Chapter 45

45.1 λούεταί τις ταχέως· μὴ εἴπῃς ὅτι «κακῶς,» ἀλλ᾽ ὅτι «ταχέως.» πίνει τις πολὺν οἶνον· μὴ εἴπῃς ὅτι «κακῶς,» ἀλλ᾽ ὅτι «πολύν.» πρὶν γὰρ διαγνῶναι τὸ δόγμα, πόθεν οἶσθα εἰ κακῶς; οὕτως οὐ συμβήσεταί σοι ἄλλων μὲν φαντασίας καταληπτικὰς λαμβάνειν, ἄλλοις δὲ συγκατατίθεσθαι.

    Accurate Judgments

    We should make accurate judgments which reflect knowledge of the situation, rather than quickly jumping to conclusions.

    μὴ εἴπῃς ὅτι κακῶς: understand λούεται or πίνει. εἴπῃς: 2 sg. aor. act. subj., prohibitory subjunctive (G. 473; S. 1840b)

    διαγνῶναι τὸ δόγμα: “determine their rationale,” “understand fully what they were thinking” διαγνῶναι: aor. act. infin. in a πρίν clause; joined to an affirmative main clause, πρίν ἤ means “before” and is followed by an infinitive (G. 568; S. 2460).

    οἶσθα: > οἷδα, 2 sg. perf. act. ind.  

    εἰ κακῶς: “if (he acts) badly”

    φαντασίας καταληπτικάς: “cognitive impression,” a key term in the Stoic theory of knowledge. Unlike the ancient skeptics, who systematically doubted the ability of the senses to convey truthful information about the nature of things, the Stoics maintained that infallible knowledge of the world is possible. Though a colonnade might appear to get smaller as it recedes from my position, I know based on my knowledge of optics and the rectangularity of the colonnade that this is a false impression. The faculty of assent has the function of judging the validity of such sense reports. The task of discrimination is supposedly made easy by the so-called “cognitive impression,” a type of impression that gives its recipient an absolute guarantee that it represents the object with complete accuracy and clarity, and could not arise from what is not (L-S I, pp. 249–251).

    συγκατατίθεσθαι: “give assent to.” Cognitive impressions, by being assented to, give someone the certainty that he perceives some truth(s) (L-S I, p. 256).

    ἄλλων … ἄλλοις: “in this way it will not result that you receive cognitive impressions of one thing but give your assent to something else.” In an ideal world we would give our assent to cognitive impressions only. Not jumping to conclusions helps us avoid the opposite fate, receiving a cognitive impression from one thing, and giving assent to something different. Smith (2014) translates, “This way, you will only assent to impressions that are absolutely true and clear.”

    λούω, λούσω, ἔλουσα, to wash, to bathe

    ταχέως, (adverb) quickly

    οἶνος, -οῦ, ὁ, wine

    διαγιγνώσκω, -γνώσομαι, -έγνων, to distinguish, discern, figure out

    δόγμα, -ατος, τό, opinion, belief, judgment, decision; philosophical principle

    πόθεν, from where, whence; how, why

    φαντασία,-ας, ἡ, impression, appearance, perception

    καταληπτικός, ή, όν, cognitive 

    συγκατατίθημι,-θησω,-έθηκα, to assent 

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    Suggested Citation

    Albert Watanabe, Epictetus: Encheiridion. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2020. ISBN: 978-1-947822-13-9.