A Closer Look at 'Sophisticated Stoicism': Reply to Stephens and Feezell

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 4 (3):341-354 (2011)
Abstract
Stephens and Feezell argue, in ?The Ideal of the Stoic Sportsman? (2004), that ?one need not be a scholar of ancient Greek philosophy to refer to ?stoic? conduct or a ?stoic? approach to certain matters, because the vocabulary related to this apparently antiquarian view of life has seeped into our common language?. Nonetheless, Stephens and Feezell go on to give a scholarly account of Stoicism as it relates to athletic participation. Their account, in part, takes the form of a distinction between ?simple Stoicism? and ?sophisticated Stoicism?? the former being a common, contemporary grasp of Stoic moral psychology; the latter being a more sophisticated and historically accurate grasp of Stoic moral psychology. In fleshing out their more sophisticated account, they disclose a paradox. Given the Stoic sufficiency thesis ? i.e., that the sole (Stoic) good is virtue ? the Stoic sportsman must be indifferent to failure or winning. Yet the Stoic sportsman must be sufficiently attached to the athletic experience to use it as a means of developing virtuous states of character. That they dub the paradox the ?paradox of Stoic detachment?. ?Curiosity? Paradox? Or psychological incoherence?? they ask. The aim of the present undertaking is a ?soft? critique of Stephens and Feezell ? soft, because the critique is not so much a critical rejection of the authors' view tout court. Instead, I aim to point out deficiencies with their account and expand on other points not fully elucidated in it. The most salient point I make is that what they deem paradoxical is not really paradoxical, once there is a more thorough account and clearer grasp of Stoic ?detachment?
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