Epictetus was wrong about control

Epictetus, the Greek Stoic philosopher, thought that all external events are beyond our control. But, he said, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline. And here lies the paradox. If you are in control of your own actions, that means you can choose to direct your time and energy at taking control of external events.

An example? External event: asteroid hitting planet earth. Taking control: become a planetary scientist and work at NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies to track comets and asteroids that pass close to the Earth.

Perhaps what Epictetus was really trying to say was that as individuals we can’t control all external events ourselves. So, that’s why we have civilisations and learn to work together, and have people that specialise and dedicate their life’s work to one thing, all so that as a species we can control more and more of the external events in our world.