This new and important introduction to Seneca provides a systematic and concise presentation of this author’s philosophical works and his tragedies. It provides handbook style surveys of each genuine or attributed work, giving dates and brief descriptions, and taking into account the most important philosophical and philological issues. In addition, they provide accounts of the major steps in the history of their later influence. The cultural background of the texts and the most important problem areas within the philosophic and tragic (...) corpus of Seneca are dealt with in separate essays. (shrink)
In his A Treatise of Freewill, Ralph Cudworth argues against Stoic determinism by drawing on what he takes to be other concepts found in Stoicism, notably the claim that some things are ?up to us? and that these things are the product of our choice. These concepts are central to the late Stoic Epictetus and it appears at first glance as if Cudworth is opposing late Stoic voluntarism against early Stoic determinism. This paper argues that in fact, despite his claim (...) to be drawing on Stoic doctrine, Cudworth uses these terms with a meaning first articulated only later, by the Peripatetic commentator Alexander of Aphrodisias. (shrink)
In the sixteenth century the Stoics were deemed friends of humanist Christians, but by the eighteenth century they were attacked as atheists. What happened in the intervening period? In the middle of this period falls Ralph Cudworth’s True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678), which contains a sustained analysis of Stoic theology. In Cudworth’s complex taxonomy Stoicism appears twice, both as a form of atheism and an example of imperfect theism. Whether the Stoics are theists or atheists hinges on whether (...) their God is conscious and intelligent, or alive but unconscious like a plant or vegetable. Is God sentient or is he a mindless vegetable? (shrink)
Book synopsis: Plato is perhaps the most readable of all philosophers. Recent scholarship on Plato has focused attention on the dramatic and literary form through which Plato presents his philosophy, an integral part of that philosophy. The papers in this volume for the first time consider Aristotle and the Stoics as readers of Plato. That these successors were influenced by the thought of Plato is a commonplace: the ‘whole of western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato’. Arising from (...) Institute of Classical Studies Research Seminars in 2004-5 and 2005-6, the papers in this volume rather consider whether and how the philosophical concerns of these later thinkers were served were served by close reading of Plato, through inter-textual engagement with specific passages of Plato’s works. (shrink)
The worst thing that can happen to us is to be blessed with a life of unending luxury, comfort, and wealth, for such a life would make one weak and lazy. But worst of all, the longer we experience a comfortable and easy life, the harder it will hit us when our luck fi nally changes, as it surely one day will.
This article examines Gilles Deleuze's methodological approach to the history of philosophy. While Deleuze's readings of past philosophers may not stand up to the standards set by the scholarly history of philosophy, they may be approached more productively as a continuation of the approach developed by the ancient and medieval commentary tradition.
This essay offers an introduction to Justus Lipsius's dialogue De Constantia, first published in 1584. Although the dialogue bears a superficial similarity to philosophical works of consolation, I suggest that it should be approached as a spiritual exercise written by Lipsius primarily for his own benefit.
Modern accounts of Stoic politics have attributed to Zeno the ideal of an isolated community of sages and to later Stoics such as Seneca a cosmopolitan utopia transcending all traditional States. By returning to the Cynic background to both Zeno's Republic and the Cosmopolitan tradition, this paper argues that the distance between the two is not as great as is often supposed. This account, it is argued, is more plausible than trying to offer a developmental explanation of the supposed transformation (...) in Stoic political thought from isolated community to cosmopolitan utopia. (shrink)
This book makes available again a long out-of-print translation of a major sixteenth-century philosophical text. Lipsius' De Constantia (1584) is an important Humanist text and a key moment in the reception of Stoicism. A dialogue in two books, conceived as a philosophical consolation for those suffering through contemporary religious wars, it proved immensely popular in its day and formed the inspiration for what has become known as 'Neostoicism'. This movement advocated the revival of Stoic ethics in a form that would (...) be palatable to a Christian audience. Lipsius deploys Stoic arguments concerning appropriate attitudes towards emotions and external events. He also makes clear which parts of Stoic philosophy must be rejected, including its materialism and its determinism. De Constantia was translated into a number of vernacular languages soon after its original publication in Latin. Of the English translations which were made, that by Sir John Stradling (1595) became a classic; it was last reprinted in 1939. This new edition offers a lightly revised version of Stradling's translation, along with a new introduction, notes, and bibliography. (shrink)
The aim of this thesis is to consider the relationship between philosophy and biography, and the bearing that this relationship has on debates concerning the nature and function of philosophy. There exists a certain tradition that conceives philosophy exclusively in terms of rational discourse and as such explicitly rejects the idea of any substantial relationship between philosophy and the way in which one lives. I shall argue that the claim that philosophy cannot have any impact upon biography is often based (...) upon an implicit conception of philosophy as primarily rational discourse. In contrast to this I shall draw upon Socratic and Stoic philosophical resources in order to reconstruct an alternative conception of philosophy as an art concerned with one's way of life. Central to this conception will be the relationship between philosophical discourse or argument and philosophical training or exercise. I shall argue that the ancient claim that philosophy is primarily expressed in one's behaviour presupposes a conception of philosophy as an art that involves both rational discourse and training or exercise as two equally important components. I shall argue that by adopting this alternative conception of philosophy as a techne it will be possible to understand properly the relationship between philosophy and biography. In Part One I shall outline the ancient idea that philosophy is something expressed in one's life, the Socratic conception of philosophy as an art, the Stoic development of this conception into an art of living, and some ancient objections to this Stoic conception. In Part Two I shall examine the relationship between philosophical discourse and exercises in Stoic philosophy, focusing upon the neglected concept of philosophical askesis. Central to this will be the literary form of such exercises and so I shall focus upon two texts (by Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius) concerned with philosophical exercises. (shrink)