top of page

Epictetus, Discourses | Attention or Mindfulness | Philosophy Core Concepts

Gregory B. Sadler | 15:38


Hi, this is Dr. Gregory Sadler. I'm a professor of philosophy and the president and founder of an educational consulting company called reason IO, where we put philosophy into practice.

I've studied and taught philosophy for over 20 years. And I find that many people run into difficulties reading classic philosophical texts. Sometimes it's the way things are said or how the text is structured. 

But the concepts themselves are not always that complicated. And that's where I come in. To help students and lifelong learners, I've been producing longer lecture videos and posting them to YouTube. Many viewers say they find them useful.

What you're currently watching is part of a new series of shorter videos. Each of them focused on one core concept from an important philosophical text. I hope you find it useful as well.

Something like a stage for an action that Epictetus thinks is very important for people to cultivate, and to deploy, if they're going to make any consistent progress in stoicism and therefore, towards happiness, is what we can call a tent attention, or attentiveness, or mindfulness, the Greek for that is pro sulcus. 

And it does actually have quite a wide range of meaning that you see when we look at chapter 12, which is devoted specifically to this topic. This is a term that's going to show up running throughout the discourses. Another term that sometimes gets translated as attention or attentiveness is epic malaise. You know, but I think they're, they're fairly synonymous.

So it doesn't make sense to translate them both the same way. And what you know, why is attention so important? Well, it's important to maintain or pay attention in activities. Epictetus will say, why, because if we want to do them, well, we actually have to do that attentively. 

Or, if you like, the parlance, that people are using these days of mindfulness, and you think about eating mindfully, and practicing the violin mindfully, and dressing yourself mindfully, that's that's fine, too, is that the idea is that you're you're focusing in some way on what it is that you're doing, you're not allowing your attention, and allowing your mind to slip off into other things. And then to start doing things automatically on its own, you want to be there you want to be present, you want to be in control.

Download Transcript

bottom of page