At first glance, I was immediately inclined to argue in epictetus' favor, because it pains me to argue that Christianity is good for anybody.
In the following paragraphs, i will contrast the God of Epictetus, and the God of Augustine, and in the end, my stand will be clear.Epictetus and Augustine both identify God on basic level.Epictetus says, "Where the essence of God is, there too is the essence of good. What is the essence of God?..
....Right Reason? Certainly.
Here then, without more ado, seek the essence of good."He says strive for goodness, live in conformity with it, and you will find God. God is the vital force that creates all things and the cosmic intellegence that governs it from within.Augustine says:"Where I found truth, there i found my God, who is truth itself."He says strive for truth and understanding..
.In loving God, we love truth. Persons can come to know truth though inner experience and conviction, he holds that you can't obtain true knowledge without faith. you must have faith in God, who is the essence of all truth.Both philosophers address man's powerlessness in the face of God. Epictetus asserted that humans are basically limited and irrational beings, but that the universe, ruled by God through pure reason, is perfect.
Because human beings can neither know nor control their destiny, they must cease striving for the attainment of worldly ends and pleasures and instead calmly accept the fact of their own powerlessness before fate. The only thingin a person's power is their response to events or outlook, namely, their morality. Augustine believed faith preceded reason. He believed people are good, but not perfect.But in Augustinean theology, each person is predestined to either heaven, or to fry like bacon, and there's nothing you can do about it. Salvation is a "free gift" with purchase, but only to every 7,000th caller.
This is where i would think morality means squat.If you know God decided when you were born whether or not you were going to heaven, nothing you do makes any difference. You can step all over everbody, and run with scissors and it doesn't matter. If you go to hell, you were going there anyway. If you're going to heaven, you've got a few good stories to tell when you get there. On top of all this, Augustine says that no human mind can penetrate the mystery of of God's wisdom.
I think this makes it a little harder for people to follow the ways of Augustines God, who you will never understand. It's like when you were little and had to pretty much do as your parents said, but didn't really understand why. 'You'll understand when you're older.' they'd tell you, and it's a little of that same feeling. 'you'll understand later, just trust me.
'Epictetus disagrees. He says, "All people possess the ability to comprehend the divine."....
and the good life is living in conformity with the divine nature. Every person is a "fragment" of God, and that you carry her with you, and She hears and sees everything, which would sure make me watch my step. We are to make the best of whats in our power and what we can control, and not get pouty about what we can't.Don't be ungrateful, be thankful, because God has given you will, and man doesn't have anything stronger than that.Epictetus believes that it's God's best gift, because itallows you to make use of all the other gifts. He belives that the good for humansmust be attainable.
God has given you a will, use it to do good and seek happiness, but stick to what you can control, your ethics and your morality.Epictetus and Augustine seem to agree that the pursuit of material interests and pleasures are no good. In the end it will only cause you frustration and disapointment. On top of being just plain bad.Augustine says that the good for humans is not in your power. He believes that we don't yet see our own good, so we must have faith.
Sovereign good and evil aren't to be found in this life.Those who seek happiness in this world and through their own efforts cannot be truly happy or truly moral. People who indulge in pleasures, and those who rely on reason cannot provide a cure for the evils of life. He believes 'unaided' human reason is "feeble", which is rather insulting. He thinks that you must seek happiness through God, not ourselves, or eachother, or material things, or pleasure. To seek happiness through God, you must have faith, love and hope.
Epictetus' God rather promotes morality, holds reason in high regard. He views right reason as the very essence of God.According to Epictetus, a person who values virtue is happy, and he defines virtue as a condition of the will governed by reason. Morality seems to be a cornerstone. Epictetus also makes a point of warning us that God is on our shoulder watching every move we make, so look busy, and be moral dammit.
Augustine's God says, Eh...morality's not that important, and you guys aren't very good at it. So just go ahead and have the faith and the love and all that, but leave the morality to me. According to Augutine, God transcends reason.
Even though no matter what you do and no matter how good you are, you have no idea if you're going to heaven, you're just supposed to follow all the rules anyway. Say your whole life you walk the straight and narrow, and burn anyway. Augustine said that God already decided. It seems that following all the rules is arbitrary. It doesn't seem like a very good promotion for human morality to me.
As i stated earlier, it would pain me to argue that Christianity is good for anyone, I myself am still 'recovering' so to speak. So in the fine tradition of things, i'm rooting for 'the other guy'.....
the same way as my dad's favorite football team is the Vikings, or anyone who's playing against the Packers.Aside from my biased beginnings, I do hold that Augustine's God isn't the poster boy for the promotion of morality. Epictetus' God seems to hold morality and reason in very high regard. So I believe we have ourwinner.