Master and Slave:

According to Hegel, each possesses half of freedom: power to exercise it, and insight into its value. As a paradigm of this relationship he took the philosopher emperor Marcus Aurelius and the slave philosopher Epictetus who taught him to be free.


Epictetus (c. AD 55-135) The most influential teacher of Stoicism of his time, Epictetus was born a slave in Asia Minor. He was given his freedom around the year 68, but was banished from Rome by Diocletian around 90. He was lame for much of his life. It is known that he was extremely popular, respected, and lived a life of utmost simplicity, in accordance with Stoic doctrine. His teachings or Discourses include an emphasis on submissiveness, humility, and charity, but also upon the ability and duty of a person to mould his or her character in the effort to achieve self-government and independence of external circumstance. [THE OXFORD DISCTIONARY OF PHILOSOPHY]

Note: Philosophy encourages you to acquire freedom thru intellectual empowerment. All organized religions impose limitations on human intellectual freedom. All organized religions ostracize free thinkers.

Posted by:  nSalik (Noor Salik)


5 thoughts on “MASTER AND SLAVE

  1. It is a great brief thought, although some may take issue with ‘Note’ , because large part of Philosophy, especially classic philosophy, is devoted to existence of God and every religion has great philosophers who were scholars of both religion and philosophy.

    Could you please elaborate on;

    “. His teachings or Discourses include an emphasis on submissiveness, humility, and charity, but also upon the ability and duty of a person to mould his or her character in the effort to achieve self-government and independence of external circumstance.”


    • Islamic History, more than the histories of rest the world, is full of Masters and Slaves wisdom and to name the few such as Bilal Habshi, Mahmud o Ayaz, Kutabuddin Aybuk, Altmush and many more. Modern time is gone to reflect upon this subject. Humanity is today facing a much bigger problem, namely the ‘End of the Human Era.’

      We are today, on the road to a scientific civilization, believing in scientific knowledge as our destiny. Stephen Hawking, the physicist remarks: “In contrast with our intellect, computers double their performance every eighteen months. So the danger is real that they could develop intelligence and take over the world.” Professor Vernor Vinge, a computer scientist believes: “Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended. Is such progress avoidable? If not to be avoided, can events be guided so that we may survive?” Accomplished inventor, and champion of Singularity, Ray Kurzweil in his books, The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence and The Singularity is Near, defines Singularity as a “singular” period in time beginning around the year 2045, when artificial intelligence will be trillions of times more powerful than today. Machines and biology will become indistinguishable.

      Given the incredible power of new technologies, and development of artificial intelligence to super intelligence, we should be asking ourselves, how would we be able to best coexist with the machines? Ray Kurzweil speculates, “Machines will follow a path that mirrors the evolution of humans. Ultimately, however, self-aware, self-improving machines will evolve beyond humans’ ability to control or even understand them.” In a provocative article The Future Does Not Need Us, Bill Joy argues, “Our most powerful 21st century technologies—robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech—are threatening to make humans an endangered species.” Though for the scientists it is possible to place chips in the robots to shut them off if they become dangerous, or by creating fail-safe devices to immobilize them in an emergency, but if the robots are designed to possess many time more knowledge, intelligence, consciousness and maybe also wisdom than we human beings have, it will be the end of human era. So, let us not discuss the past wise slaves and their masters. We now should discuss about our WISE ROBOT MASTERS and we humans as their slaves. — MIRZA ASHRAF

    • 08/11/2015
      I initiated my comment on the NOTE part which is awaiting moderation by the Editor of the Month.
      I might add few more points or elaborate some points already entered.
      Let me take up the following part:
      Could you please elaborate on;

      “. His teachings or Discourses include an emphasis on submissiveness, humility, and charity, but also upon the ability and duty of a person to mould his or her character in the effort to achieve self-government and independence of external circumstance.”

      As I mentioned in my comment before this comment.
      My comment has three parts.
      (1) Hegel
      (2) Epictetus
      (3) NOTE

      The reference about Hegel is only 2 to 3 lines.
      Hegel mentioned Epictetus and I did not know who was Epictetus.
      I looked “Epictetus” in the OXFORD DISTIONARY OF PHILOSOPHY.
      I just copied verbatim whatever was there so that other affiliates may also read about Epictetus.

      My interpretation of these sentences about Epictetus is as good or not as good as anybody else interpretation.

      Let me attempt my interpretation.
      Normally human beings make this mistake that they attach lot of importance to the place or environment where a person was born.
      In Muslim traditions “Aala Husab Nasab” is an expression which can be extremely disturbing for analytical minds with judicious temperament.

      A person cannot claim any credit or deserve any condemnation for where a person was born.
      Philosophically and mathematically it is a random act where a person is born.
      Theologically it may be will of God.

      Epictetus was born in slavery. But he turned out to be a person with Philosophic mind.

      Philosophy does teach us humility at personal level but it also empowers us at intellectual level.

      “To achieve self-government and independence of external circumstance” – to me it is pointing towards achieving more personal freedom and self-empowerment.

      nSalik (Noor Salik)

  2. Let me briefly comment on my original brief thought and then I will start addressing Dr. Fayyaz’s comment.

    My original comment has three components.

    (1) A brief reference to Hegel’s observation about Freedom
    (2) Who was Epictetus that Hegel is getting some insight about the value of freedom
    (3) My own NOTE where I juxtaposed Philosophy and Theology/Organized Religion – where Dr. Fayyaz took an issue with. The third point is the real stuff which will tell us the importance and power of TF USA set up.

    TF USA provides an environment where any affiliate can test their ideas, concepts not matter how frivolous and rudimentary they are.
    As we go along I will attempt to explain and elaborate what I meant in my NOTE.
    Philosophy and Theology, both are intellectually complex domains but there are some commonalities as well differences.

    Let me go back to original NOTE. I think I replaced Theology with Organized religions.
    So I will revert back to organized religions instead of Theology. Theology can be taken up later on.

    Conceptually whatever ‘Organized Religions’ offer also exist in Philosophy except DOGMA and RITUALS.

    All dogmas are based on supernatural phenomenon.
    Philosophy is based on natural phenomenon.
    This is the major difference between religious way of life and philosophic way of life.
    Natural phenomenon is guaranteed to exist – 100 % probability
    Supernatural phenomenon may exist or may not exist – 50 % probability (Imp. will refer back)

    Philosophy deals with natural phenomenon and its derivatives.
    Organized religions deal with supernatural phenomenon and its derivatives.

    Why most human beings in the world opt to live lives under religious guidelines and not under philosophic guidelines?
    It is a complex questions but it is answerable.

    When we study human evolutionary process it is obvious that to understand REALITY scientifically and objectively is not easy. It takes enormous human intellectual effort to understand the basics of natural phenomenon.
    Hence human beings concoct supernatural phenomenon to give mythical and superstitious meanings to natural phenomenon.

    All religions provide simplistic answers to most complex questions about universe and human existential conditions.

    Most human beings are willing to accept any answer for complex questions. Hence the dogma and mythology come into play. All religions provide very much similar set of moral codes which deal with human interactions. But the belief systems which is based on DOGMA differ among all religions. When it comes to dogma even monotheistic religions disagree with each other. These conflicts cannot be resolved rationally because they are based on supernatural phenomenon which beyond the reach of human reason and thought process.

    Why Mathematics and Sciences are universally accepted by all cultures because they are based on natural phenomenon (NATURE). There is no oriental and/or occidental Mathematics and Science.
    All cultures and societies follow the same mathematical and scientific principles because they are based on observable and verifiable data.

    When it comes to philosophy there is oriental and occidental dichotomy.
    Oriental (eastern) philosophy is based on more intuition less logic.
    Occidental (western) philosophy is based on reason and logic. [can be discussed further if necessary]

    But all universal religions are based on DOGMA which is linked to supernatural phenomenon (50% probability of its existence to start with. If you disagree I hope you will say so to correct this statement)

    These are just concepts and ideas which are subject to change if somebody points out that factually they are incorrect and/or inferentially invalid.
    This is not a belief system based on any DOGMA which is not subject to change.

    Philosophy deals with purely abstract concepts – western philosophy using REASON, eastern philosophy using INTUTION.
    We can see the consequences readily.
    Eastern cultures are inherently static. [INTUITION/DOGMA]
    Western cultures are inherently dynamic (Only after Renaissance). [REASON/LOGIC]

    Muslim philosophers, mathematicians and scientists has a big share of intellectual contributions to western thought process.

    Muslims can learn a lot from Jews not from Christians.
    Islam is an extension of Abrahamic traditions – not St. Paul’s tragic eccentricities.
    Why Muslims are not doing it or cannot do it – there are specific and historical reasons that tragically it is not happening.
    New York University text book “Under the Shadow of the Prophet” may have some answers if you are interested.

    To be continued …..

    nSalik (Noor Salik)

  3. It is better to look into the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy about Epictetus:

    We need to first read in detail the views of Epictetus and the philosophy of Stoicism. I do have a two page short chapter on Stoicism in my book Introduction to World Philosophies. As a matter of fact Epictetus did not introduce anything new. Zeno was the founder of Stoicism whose teachings were a combination of the views of Heraclitus and Diogenes the Cynics. Stoic ethics was grounded on the principle that only virtue is good, only vice bad. In the life of the wise man virtue, or consistency in the use of his rational faculties, is the sole good and sufficient for happiness. since the Stoics did not present anything new the philosophy soon died. It was considered that the Stoics slowed down the social, economic, and scientific progress by focusing too much on simplicity, humility, and “dervishi” way of life. In short Stoicism neglected that human mind is so powerful that man can invent, create, experience, and destroy things with his thoughts alone. … Mirza Ashraf

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