Martha Nussbaum's work has been characterized by a sustained critique of Stoic ethics, insofar as that ethics denies the validity and importance of our valuing things that elude our control. This essay explores the idea that the very possibility of morality, understood as social or interpersonal ethics, presupposes that we do value such things. If my argument is right, Stoic ethics is unable to recognize the validity of morality (so understood) but can at most acknowledge duties to oneself. A further (...) implication is that moral luck, so far from undermining morality as some have held, is presupposed by the very possibility of morality. (shrink)
On the surface, stoicism and emotion seem like contradictory terms. Yet the Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome were deeply interested in the emotions, which they understood as complex judgments about what we regard as valuable in our surroundings. Stoicism and Emotion shows that they did not simply advocate an across-the-board suppression of feeling, as stoicism implies in today’s English, but instead conducted a searching examination of these powerful psychological responses, seeking to understand what attitude toward (...) them expresses the deepest respect for human potential. In this elegant and clearly written work, Margaret Graver gives a compelling new interpretation of the Stoic position. Drawing on a vast range of ancient sources, she argues that the chief demand of Stoic ethics is not that we should suppress or deny our feelings, but that we should perfect the rational mind at the core of every human being. Like all our judgments, the Stoics believed, our affective responses can be either true or false and right or wrong, and we must assume responsibility for them. Without glossing over the difficulties, Graver also shows how the Stoics dealt with those questions that seem to present problems for their theory: the physiological basis of affective responses, the phenomenon of being carried away by one’s emotions, the occurrence of involuntary feelings and the disordered behaviors of mental illness. Ultimately revealing the deeper motivations of Stoic philosophy, Stoicism and Emotion uncovers the sources of its broad appeal in the ancient world and illuminates its surprising relevance to our own. (shrink)
Stoicism is now widely recognized as one of the most important philosophical schools of ancient Greece and Rome. But how did it influence Western thought after Greek and Roman antiquity? The contributors recruited for this volume include leading international scholars of Stoicism as well as experts in later periods of philosophy. They trace the impact of Stoicism and Stoic ideas from late antiquity through the medieval and modern periods.
Stoicism was one of the new philosophical movements of the Hellenistic period. The name derives from the porch (stoa poikilê) in the Agora at Athens decorated with mural paintings, where the members of the school congregated, and their lectures were held. Unlike ‘epicurean,’ the sense of the English adjective ‘stoical’ is not utterly misleading with regard to its philosophical origins. The Stoics did, in fact, hold that emotions like fear or envy (or impassioned sexual attachments, or passionate love of (...) anything whatsoever) either were, or arose from, false judgements and that the sage—a person who had attained moral and intellectual perfection—would not undergo them. The later Stoics of Roman Imperial times, Seneca and Epictetus, emphasise the doctrines (already central to the early Stoics' teachings) that the sage is utterly immune to misfortune and that virtue is sufficient for happiness. Our phrase ‘stoic calm’ perhaps encapsulates the general drift of these claims. It does not, however, hint at the even more radical ethical views which the Stoics defended, e.g. that only the sage is free while all others are slaves, or that all those who are morally vicious are equally so. Though it seems clear that some Stoics took a kind of perverse joy in advocating views which seem so at odds with common sense, they did not do so simply to shock. Stoic ethics achieves a certain plausibility within the context of their physical theory and psychology, and within the framework of Greek ethical theory as that was handed down to them from Plato and Aristotle. It seems that they were well aware of the mutually interdependent nature of their philosophical views, likening philosophy itself to a living animal in which logic is bones and sinews; ethics and physics, the flesh and the soul respectively (another version reverses this assignment, making ethics the.. (shrink)
Without questioning Hutcheson's general affinities with the Stoics, this article focuses on two important differences in moral psychology that show the limits of the appropriation of Stoicism in Hutcheson's ethics of benevolence. First, Hutcheson's distinction between calm affections and violent passions does not fully match with the Stoic distinction between constantiæ and perturbationes, since the emotion of sorrow remains in Hutcheson's table of the calm affections. As far as sorrow as a public affection is concerned, this first point is (...) tied to a second point, which Hutcheson highlights himself: His conception of virtue as benevolence and the general importance of the public affections seem to be in conflict with a Stoic conception of virtue as an internal good, since the happiness of others, which is the object of both Hutchesonian benevolence and the public sense, is external for the Stoics. (shrink)
Feminist analysis has eonvineed me that certain tendencies within that form of radical environmentalism known as deep ecology-with its supposed rejection of the Western ethical tradition and its adoption of what looks to be a feminist attitude toward the environment and our relationship to nature-constitute one more chapter in the story of Western alienation from nature. In this paper I deepen my critique of these tendencies toward alienation within deep ecology by historicizing my critique in the light of a development (...) in the ancient world that is disquietingly similar to the rise of deep ceology in recent times-namely, the rise of Stoicism in the wake of the breakup of the ancient polis. (shrink)
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? (shrink)
The question addressed by this book is what, if anything, stoic ethics would be like today if stoicism had had a continuous history to the present day as a plausible and coherent set of philosophical commitments and methods. The book answers that question by arguing that most of the ancient doctrines of Stoic ethics remain defensible today, at least when ancient Stoicism's cosmological commitments are replaced by modern scientific ones.
This article explores the influence of Stoicism and religion on Adam Smith. While other commentators have argued either that the main influence on Smith was Stoicism or that it was religion, the two influences have not been explicitly linked. In this article I attempt to make such a link, arguing that Smith can be seen as belonging to the strand of Christian Stoicism chiefly associated with his teacher, Francis Hutcheson. Finally, some comments are made about the implications (...) of this interpretation for current understanding of the work of Adam Smith. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to elucidate the meaning of Stoicism today. First, it roughly sketches Stoicism as a philosophical system, namely its logic, physics and ethics. It argues that many aspects of its logic and physics are outdated but that the general Stoic approach to these disciplines may still be relevant to modern philosophers. Moreover, the more persuasive part of Stoicism is ethics: Stoic ethics is naturalistic and intellectualist. Stoics argue that virtue is the only (...) good, and attempt to force us to give up emotions and affections. These aspects of the Stoic approach frequently seem intolerable, but the strength of Stoicism depends on this intellectualism. One of the distinctive features of Stoicism, as well as of most ancient philosophies, is that philosophy is not only a theoretical system but a “way of Life.” In that respect, it is clear that Stoicism is still a living philosophy, as may be shown from the celebrated figure of J. Stockdale, the “philosophical fighter pilot.” Moreover, given its intellectualist approach, the Stoic theory of passions is obviously opposed to the psychoanalytic approach and its emphasis on unconscious processes. The theories known as “cognitive therapies” have close affinities with Stoicism, as they frequently proclaim. Therefore, Stoicism in more ways than one is a living philosophy. (shrink)
Boethius first identifies Philosophy in the Consolation as his medica, his “healer” or “physician.” Over the course of the dialogue Philosophy exercises her medical art systematically. In the second book Philosophy first gives Boethius “gentler remedies” that are preparatory for the “sharper medicines” that she administers later. This article shows that, philosophically speaking, Philosophy’s “gentler remedies” amount to persuading Boethius toward Stoicism, which functions as an anesthetic for the more invasive philosophical surgery that she performs afterwards. Seeing this, however, (...) requires understanding how Philosophy draws out Boethius’s spiritedness in the first book and how in the second book she sublimates it into an intellectual and volitional apathy toward the things of fortune, i.e., into a Stoic attitude toward that which is other. Significantly, though, the Stoicism to which Philosophy leads Boethius is of a mitigated sort, inasmuch as friendship is not included among the things of fortune to which Boethius is anesthesized, an exception that opens up Boethius to genuine wonder and, consequently, to genuine philosophizing. (shrink)
The tremendous influence Stoicism has exerted on ethical thought from early Christianity through Immanuel Kant and into the twentieth century is rarely understood and even more rarely appreciated. Throughout history, Stoic ethical doctrines have both provoked harsh criticisms and inspired enthusiastic defenders. The Stoics defined the goal in life as living in agreement with nature. Humans, unlike all other animals, are constituted by nature to develop reason as adults, which transforms their understanding of themselves and their own true good. (...) The Stoics held that virtue is the only real good and so is both necessary and, contrary to Aristotle, sufficient for happiness; it in no way depends on luck. The virtuous life is free of all passions, which are intrinsically disturbing and harmful to the soul, but includes appropriate emotive responses conditioned by rational understanding and the fulfillment of all one's personal, social, professional, and civic responsibilities. The Stoics believed that the person who has achieved perfect consistency in the operation of his rational faculties, the "wise man," is extremely rare, yet serves as a prescriptive ideal for all. The Stoics believed that progress toward this noble goal is both possible and vitally urgent. (shrink)
This book reconstructs in detail the older Stoic theory of the psychology of action, discussing it in relation to Aristotelian, Epicurean, Platonic, and some of the more influential modern theories. Important Greek terms are transliterated and explained; no knowledge of Greek is required.
To the normal reasons that we think can justify one in preferring something, x (namely, that x has objectively preferable properties, or has properties that one prefers things to have, or that x's obtaining would advance one's preferences), I argue that it can be a justifying reason to prefer x that one's very preferring of x would advance one's preferences. Here, one prefers x not because of the properties of x, but because of the properties of one's having the preference (...) for x. So-revising one's preferences is rational in paradoxical choice situations like Kavka's Deterrence Paradox. I then try to meet the following objections: that this is stoicist, incoherent, bad faith; that it conflates instrumental and intrinsic value, gives wrong solutions to the problems presented by paradoxical choice situations, entails vicious regresses of value justification, falsifies value realism, makes valuing x unresponsive to x's properties, causes value conflict, conflicts with other standards of rationality, violates decision theory, counsels immorality, makes moral paradox, treats value change as voluntary, conflates first- and second-order values, is psychologically unrealistic, and wrongly presumes that paradoxical choice situations can even occur. (shrink)
Abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq confront us with the question of how seemingly ordinary soldiers could have perpetrated harms against prisoners. In this essay I argue that a Stoic approach to the virtues can provide a bulwark against the social and personal forces that can lead to abusive behavior. In part one, I discuss Abu Ghraib. In two, I examine social psychological explanations of how ordinary, apparently decent people are able to commit atrocities. In three, I address a (...) series of questions: why should we turn to ethics for help with these problems, and why, in particular, to Stoicism instead of other ethical theories, such as utilitarianism or Kantianism? Given the power of situations in influencing behavior, is a turn to character ethics a viable response to problems such as those at Abu Ghraib? I argue in part four that character formation drawing on Stoic values can provide soldiers with the inner resilience to resist the situational factors that press them to unwarranted aggression. (shrink)
Galen is well known as a critic of Stoicism, mainly for his massive attack on Stoic (or at least, Chrysippean) psychology in "On the Doctrines of Hippocrates and Plato" (PHP) 2-5. Galen attacks both Chrysippus' location of the ruling part of the psyche in the heart and his unified or monistic picture of human psychology. However, if we consider Galen's thought more broadly, this has a good deal in common with Stoicism, including a (largely) physicalist conception of psychology (...) and a strongly teleological view of natural entities, shared features which are acknowledged in several treatises outside "PHP." Why, then, is Galen such a remorseless and negative critic of Stoicism in "PHP"? Various factors are relevant, including the shaping influence on Galen of the Platonic-Aristotelian (part-based) psychological framework. But, it is suggested here, an important underlying factor is the contrast between two ways of thinking about the part-whole relationship, a 'composition' and a 'structure' approach or an atomistic and holistic approach. This contrast is most evident and explicit in one section of "PHP" 5, where Galen, criticising Chrysippus' holistic psychology, denies that the Stoic thinker is entitled to use the concept of part at all. But the contrast is also seen as pervading Galen's response to Stoic thought more generally, in "PHP" and elsewhere, in ways that inform his explicit disagreements with Stoic theory. Stoicism is presented here as having a consistently 'structure' (or holistic) approach. Galen's approach is seen as more mixed, sometimes sharing, or aspiring towards, a holistic picture, and yet sometimes (especially in "PHP" 5), adopting a strongly 'composition' or atomistic standpoint. This (partial) contrast in conceptual frameworks is presented as offering a new perspective on Galen's critique of Stoic psychology in "PHP" and on his relationship to Stoic thought more generally. (shrink)
In The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS) Adam Smith draws on the Stoic idea of a Providence that uses everything for the good of the whole. The process is often painful, so the Stoic ethic insisted on conscious cooperation. Stoic ideas contributed to the rise of science and enjoyed wide popularity in Smith's England. Smith was more influenced by the Stoicism of his professors than by the Epicureanism of Hume. In TMS, Marcus Aurelius's "helmsman" becomes the "impartial spectator," who (...) judges actions in terms of the way they are seen by others. This is the key to justice, without which society collapses. Business school students should be taught that Smith's "invisible hand" is best understood as a universal rationality that uses just actions for the benefit of the whole. (shrink)
The present article is an edition of the Pathologia (1706), a Latin manuscript on the passions by Anthony Ashley Cooper, the third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713). There are two parts, i) an introduction with commentary (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01916599.2012.679795), and ii) an edition of the Latin text with an English translation (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01916599.2012.679796) . The Pathologia treats of a series of topics concerning moral psychology, ethics and philology, presenting a reconstruction of the Stoic theory of the emotions that is closely modelled on Cicero and (...) Diogenes Lærtius. It contains a most detailed typology of the passions and affections as well as an analysis of a series of psychological connections, for example between admiration and pride. On the basis of his reconstruction of Stoic moral psychology and ethics, Shaftesbury argues that in one of his phases, Horace should be interpreted as a Stoic rather than as an Epicurean. The translation and the commentary draw attention to the relations between the Pathologia and Shaftesbury's English writings, most importantly Miscellaneous Reflections and the Inquiry Concerning Virtue, or Merit, which sheds light on several features of Shaftesbury's relation to Stoicism. (shrink)
The present article is an edition of the Pathologia (1706), a Latin manuscript on the passions by Anthony Ashley Cooper, the third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713). There are two parts, i) an introduction with commentary (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01916599.2012.679795), and ii) an edition of the Latin text with an English translation (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01916599.2012.679796) . The Pathologia treats of a series of topics concerning moral psychology, ethics and philology, presenting a reconstruction of the Stoic theory of the emotions that is closely modelled on Cicero and (...) Diogenes Lærtius. It contains a most detailed typology of the passions and affections as well as an analysis of a series of psychological connections, for example between admiration and pride. On the basis of his reconstruction of Stoic moral psychology and ethics, Shaftesbury argues that in one of his phases, Horace should be interpreted as a Stoic rather than as an Epicurean. The translation and the commentary draw attention to the relations between the Pathologia and Shaftesbury's English writings, most importantly Miscellaneous Reflections and the Inquiry Concerning Virtue, or Merit, which sheds light on several features of Shaftesbury's relation to Stoicism. (shrink)
Charles S. Peirce believed that his pragmatic philosophy could reconcile religion and science and that this reconciliation involves a religious ethics creating a real community with the cosmos and God. After some rival pragmatic approaches to God and religious belief inconsistent with Peirce's philosophy are set aside, his metaphysical plan for a reconciliation of religion and science is outlined. A panentheistic God makes the best match with his desired conclusions from the Neglected Argument for the reality of God, and this (...) God is also capable of fulfilling the pragmatic role demanded by Peirce's ethical expectations for the intelligent functioning of religion. The discussion proceeds to an elaboration of the aesthetic, metaphysical, and ethical elements of Peirce's philosophical system, which indicate why Peirce's religious ethics is best categorized as akin to Stoicism, with some Christian elements. For Peirce, religious ethics proceeds from the (potentially universal) agapic community's cooperation with God's loving creativity of the universe. (shrink)
The paper discusses the manner and extent to which Epicurean ethics can serve as a general philosophy of life, capable of supporting philosophical practice in the form of philosophical counseling. Unlike the modern age academic philosophy, the philosophical practice movement portrays the philosopher as a personal or corporate adviser, one who helps people make sense of their experiences and find optimum solutions within the context of their values and general preferences. Philosophical counseling may rest on almost any school of philosophy, (...) ranging — in the Western tradition from Platonism to the philosophy of language or logic. While any specialist school of philosophy may serve valuable purposes by elucidating specific aspects of one’s experiences and directing future action, the more ‘generalist’ the philosophy used as the basis for counseling is, the broader and more far-reaching its potential impact on the person undergoing counseling. Epicurean ethics is a prime example of a philosophy of life that is suitable for philosophical counseling today. Its closer examination reveals that, contrary to superficial opinion, it is not opposed to Stoicism and may in fact incorporate Stoicism and its antecedent virtues (including many Christian virtues) in a simple yet comprehensive practical system of directions for modern counseling. (shrink)