Do you then show me your improvement in these things?

Reading through Epictetus’ Discourses on a long train ride the other day, I found a passage where he discusses the difference between someone talking about a book and that person being able to show that she has learnt the lessons contained therein:

Do you then show me your improvement in these things? If I were talking to an athlete, I should say, “Show me your shoulders”; and then he might say, “Here are my halteres [dumbbells].” You and your halteres look to that. I should reply, “I wish to see the effect of the halteres.”

Already in c. 100 CE the gym membership that goes unused and the aspirational library that goes unread were well known to the wise.

This entry is part of Jack Rusher’s journal, originally published May 29th, 2015, in Berlin.