instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The handle of his wrong

I came across Epictetus a couple of times this week, which is unexpected since he's been dead for a while now. First was a link to an old Existential Comic that explains why there are so few First World Stoics these days. Second was a reference, in a Joseph Bottum Weekly Standard column, to Epictetus's "two handles" metaphor, which I quote from an online translation:
Everything has two handles, one by which you can carry it, the other by which you cannot. If your brother wrongs you, do not take it by that handle, the handle of his wrong, for you cannot carry it by that, but rather by the other handle—that he is a brother, brought up with you, and then you will take it by the handle that you can carry by.
Bottum was writing about American political discourse, but Catholic discourse is also rife with taking the handle of your brother's wrong. The fact that he is wrong is often treated as more relevant, more fundamental, even more certain than the fact that he is your brother.