On not being a philosopher: AHSEC Class 12 Alternative English

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Get here the summary, questions, answers, textbook solutions, extras, and pdf of the chapter On not being a Philosopher by Robert Lynd of the Assam Board (AHSEC / SEBA) Class 12 Alternative English (Vibgyor) textbook. However, the given notes/solutions should only be used for references and should be modified/changed according to needs.

on not being a philosopher

Summary: The essay “On Not Being a Philosopher” opens on a humorous note when the author overhears a discussion in which one individual asks another if the latter has read Epictetus. Lynd’s curiosity about Epictetus piques, He wonders if Epictetus’s words are the book of wisdom he’s been searching for intermittently since his school days. He never lost his youthful belief that wisdom might be discovered in the pages of books. He desires to acquire knowledge for a nominal fee. He also read works by Emerson and Marcus Aurelius. He realises that reading stuff as disparate as Emerson’s and Aurelin’s has not produced the desired effect, so he goes to Epictetus for wisdom and agrees with practically everything he stated. Theoretically, he is able to concur, but in practice, he finds it nearly impossible to adhere to. Except when he was in his armchair reading a book by a philosopher, he viewed death, pain, and poverty as genuine ills. It is hard to console, even in the smallest of circumstances.

Epictetus made it quite obvious that one should not become enraged when he or she does not receive what is sought, yet Lynd found it impossible to avoid becoming irritated. In his normal humorous manner, Lynd remarked that Epictetus might be able to do the task, but it would be impossible in practice. Lynd has failed to achieve his intransigence in minor matters. When Epictetus discusses his perspective on material belongings, he advises us to be indifferent if they are lost. Lynd reasoned that it would be feasible in a world where nothing happened. In practice, the author is unable to obey and follow him despite a theoretical agreement with him.

Invulnerability is regarded by Epictetus as an ideal. He guarantees that we will attain this if we place minimal importance on material possessions. Lynd feels that philosophy cannot be applied to real-world circumstances. Nevertheless, we cannot help but believe that the philosophers were correct, despite the fact that their ideas varied. The logic of Epictetus may be sound, but neither as individuals nor as a society can we adhere to it. We could hardly hold material possessions in contempt, as do philosophers. Lynd ends by adding that attaining wisdom only by listening to or reading is one of the most fascinating dreams; he had a dream in which he read Epictetus, but upon waking up, he realised it was only a dream. It is as if we viewed wisdom as a lovely performance on a stage that the audience could not enter.

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Answer the following questions in one or two words.

1. Where was Robert Lynd born? 

Answer: Robert Lynd’s birthplace is Belfast.

2. What is the name of the American poet-philosopher whose work the author has read?

Answer: The author had read the works of the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson.

3. According to the author, most philosophers write as though life were an argument conducted in…. what?

Answer: According to the author, the majority of philosophers write as if life were a Jargon-filled argument.

4. Who does the author want to conduct the laborious quest for wisdom?

Answer: The author desires that philosophers engage in the arduous pursuit of wisdom.

5. Whose son is the slave who does not bring the hot water supposed to be?

Answer: The slave who does not bring the expected hot water is the son of Zeus.

Answer the following questions in a few words

1. Who was Marcus Aurelius and what is the name of the book in which we find his philosophy?

Answer: Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius was born in 121 A.D. and was a Stoic philosopher. In his work, “Meditations,” we can read his philosophy.

2. In what context does Lynd mention Solomon? 

Answer: Lynd referred to Solomon as a wise man. Soloman, one of the Bible’s wealthiest, most powerful, and wisest rulers, was a role model for him. The wisdom that is associated with Solomon’s name endures to this day.

3. Who was Socrates and what did he promote? 

Answer: The Greek philosopher Socrates lived from 469 to 399 BC. Because of his radical views, he was made to consume poison in prison, which is how he died. A love of learning and an eagerness to learn is what he advocated as the path to wisdom. He was opposed to scepticism.

4. Why is Pliny the Elder famous?

Answer: Pliny the Elder was a prominent Roman naturalist who is known for his work. He is considered to be one of the world’s first naturalists and is responsible for the production of the “Prodigious Natural History,” which is comprised of thirty-seven books.

5. Who is Zeus?

Answer: Zeus is the highest-ranking deity in the pantheon of gods and goddesses in Greek mythology. He is the embodiment of authority and discipline.

Answer the following questions briefly in your own words.

1. Discuss the circumstances that led to Lynd’s reading of Epictetus.

Answer: Lynd overheard a conversation in a hotel lounge in which someone inquired if the other had studied Epictetus. He pondered if Epictetus’ words of wisdom were what he had been searching for since he was a student. He was confident that the book contained knowledge. Lynd had never read Epictetus before. His books were on the shelf, however. Furthermore, he craved wisdom, which drove him to pick up a copy of Epictetus.

2. On what points does he find himself agreeing with Epictetus? 

Answer: Lynd largely agreed with Epictetus’ arguments. He saw a striking resemblance in their points of view. There is nothing more desirable than to be oblivious to the agony, death, and poverty of those around you. As long as one has no control over a tyrant or an earthquake, one should not be concerned about it. It was only in theory that Lynd was on board with Epictetus’ rules of conduct. When it came to dealing with real-world situations, he found himself absolutely unprepared.

3. Why does the author end with the phrase “it was only a dream”?

Answer: Since he was a child, Lynd had a tremendous thirst for wisdom. He was confident that the books contained knowledge. He intended to buy it for a few shillings at the most. He believed that reading would make him smarter. That was not the case at the end of his reading session, though. Even so, he never lost hope in the power of books. For guidance, he looked to Epictetus. 

When Lynd read Epictetus, he found himself agreeing with what the philosopher said. In principle, though, he agreed with him, only to discover that he was entirely unprepared to deal with real-life events. In his view of life, death, suffering, and deprivation, he shared Epictetus’s. As a result, he also held that one need not be concerned about the oppression of dictators or the dangers of earthquakes. Even in the tiniest aspects of his existence, he was unable to find solace in Epictetus’ school of thought. Despite his best efforts, he was unable to remain imperturbable in the face of trivial matters. 

His agreement in principle didn’t translate into obedience or follow-through in the real world. He came to terms with the fact that he could never live up to Epictetus’ standards in a world filled with calamities. Philosophers have a disdain for material possessions that the rest of us lack. To put it another way, philosophy doesn’t make sense in the context of the lives most of us lead. To him, the idea that he could obtain wisdom just by listening or reading was a fantasy because it couldn’t be applied to real-world situations. As a result, it was only a dream.

Give suitable answers to the following

1. Critically examine Robert Lynd’s quest for instant wisdom. 

Answer: Robert Lynd had been searching for a book that would instantly make him wise. He pondered if Epictetus’s comments were the book of wisdom he had been searching for intermittently since elementary school. On his bookshelves were the works of the great stoic philosopher, Epictetus. He noticed that reading such disparate works as those of Emerson and Marcus Aurelius had not resulted in his being instantly knowledgeable. After finishing the book, he was the same man as before. Then he consulted Epictetus for advice. He desired to get it for a small number of shillings. He concurred with practically everything he said and discovered that their views were remarkably similar. 

As he sat in a chair and read a book by a philosopher, he viewed death, agony, and poverty as genuine ills. Even in trivial matters, he failed to console himself like an Epictetan school philosopher. He was unable to accomplish his imperturbability in little matters. As far as wisdom was concerned, Lynd agreed with him in theory, but he was unable to comply and follow him in actuality. According to Lynd, philosophy is not applicable to real-world situations, but we believe that philosophers, regardless of how diverse their beliefs were, were correct. It is impractical considering the nature of our lives. Finally, Lynd came to the conclusion that attaining wisdom solely by listening or reading is an illusion. In a dream, he read Epictetus. 

His pursuit of instant wisdom remained a fantasy. It was as if we were enjoying wisdom on stage as a lovely show that it would be improper for the audience to seek to enter. In truth, he desired intelligence with minimal effort and without arduous pursuit.

2. Trace Lynd’s reading experience with Epictetus.

Answer: Lynd desired instantaneous wisdom. He owned several of the great stoic philosopher’s works. He saw that the different resources of Marcus Aurelius had not yielded the intended result, so he went to Epictetus for insight. Epictetus provided a rule to live by, and Lynd agreed with every point that Epictetus made. However, he could only agree in principle; when faced with real-world events, he was absolutely unprepared. 

In his writings, Epictetus stated that one should not get furious if they do not receive the services they desire at a restaurant. Lynd disagreed, arguing that it is difficult to avoid anger in such a setting and that Epictetus could not have done so because he never dined outside. Except when he was in his armchair reading a philosopher’s work, he viewed death, suffering, and poverty as actual evils, as did Epictetus. But if an earthquake occurred while he was reading a philosophy book, he would consider how to prevent falling walls and chimneys. Then, he would be more concerned with an earthquake than with books. Epictetus also felt that material things should be regarded with indifference, even in the event of theft. 

Lynd maintained that the philosopher’s request for imperturbability in the event of material loss was the product of a spiritual attitude of which he was incapable. He suggested that it would be conceivable in a world devoid of actual events. After reading Epictetus, he determined that philosophy is impractical in real-world situations, despite the fact that philosophers were correct in their various beliefs. Philosophy is impracticable given the nature of our lives. Lynd realised that his idea of acquiring wisdom by reading Epictetus was only a dream, which made him realise that his dream of gaining wisdom by reading Epictetus remained a dream.

Extra/additional questions and answers/solutions

1. In the restaurant, what did Lynd overhear?

Answer: Lynd observed a conversation in which one individual asked another whether he had studied Epictetus and recommended that he do so. He reported that Tommy had just read Epictetus for the first time and was thrilled.

2. Was Epictetus already read by the author?

Answer: No, the author had never read Epictetus previously.

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9. Why does Lynd find the views of Epictetus acceptable for theoretical purposes but unacceptable for practical purposes?

Answer: The author sought enlightenment by reading philosophical works. He never lost his childhood belief that knowledge might be discovered in a book. He sought knowledge. He desired to acquire it at a low cost. Consequently, he read literature by Emerson and Marcus Aurelius. He believed that reading would make him wiser. When he had finished reading, though, he was the same man as before. He never lost confidence in literature. He studies Epictetus. He agreed with almost all of his statements. He observed that the opinions were remarkably similar. The same was true of Epictetus. Except when he was in his armchair reading a philosopher’s work, he viewed death, suffering, and poverty as actual horrors. Even in little matters, he was unable to console himself like an Epictetian philosopher. He demands a spiritual stance that nature is incapable of achieving. In trivial matters, he has failed to achieve his imperturbability. When Epictetus discusses his views on worldly belongings and advises us to be so apathetic to them that we should not mind if they are taken, the author agrees with him in theory but is unable to implement his advice in practice.

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