Up to now scholars have not approached E[pictetus] as author, stylist, educator, and thinker, according to the eminent scholar of Stoicism Tony L[ong]. The aim of this book is to fill precisely this gap. L wants "to provide an accessible guide to reading E, both as a remarkable historical figure and as a thinker whose recipe for a free and satisfying life can engage our modern selves, in spite of our cultural distance from him" (2). This goal is met admirably. (...) Not only does L succeed in presenting E on his own terms, but in the process, he fairly demolishes the view, held by many since Adolf Bonhöffer,1 that E is a sturdy but unoriginal moralist who basically rehashed the same ideas, with an emphasis on practical application, that were articulated in a more sophisticated, theoretically fastidious form by Chrysippus and the early Stoics. (shrink)
Charlie Croker, a self-made real estate tycoon, ex-Georgia Tech football star, horseback rider, quail-hunter, snakecatcher, and good old boy from Baker county Georgia, is the protagonist in Tom Wolfeâ€™s latest novel, the deliciously provocative A Man in Full (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1998). Â In this article I examine the evolving conception of manhood in Wolfeâ€™s novel. Â Two different models of manliness will be delineated and compared. The first modelâ€”represented by Charlie Crokerâ€”gradually weakens and is replaced by the (...) second modelâ€”represented by Conrad Hensley. My aim is to show how Stoicism serves to critique the first model and articulate the second. Â Stoicism, I argue, provides the deliverance of both Hensley and his convert Croker, while at the same time transforming the conception of manliness explored in A Man in Full. (shrink)
interpreted to support the ethical case for vegetarianism.Â Yet to my knowledge Aronsonâ€™s is the ﬁrst book devoted to lapsed vegetarians, which she dubs â€œlapsosâ€.Â Aronson declares â€œ...I have no intention of answering the question posed in the book's title, although I shall ask what it meansâ€ (3).Â Yet, evidently despite her intention, by the end of the book she writes â€œ...many struggle with the implications of eating or not eating meat.Â In the struggle itself, the spirit is strengthened; to (...) the extent that lapsos struggle, their spirits are not weakâ€ (291).Â So in a way this interesting book is an apology for lapsed vegetarians. Â â€œThe opposite of a polemic is what I intended in this book: enough diatribes have been written alreadyâ€ (285).Â In this intention, the author succeeds.Â At the same time, however, Aronson extols the virtues of veganism throughout the book.Â While this apparent ambivalence may leave some readers confused or frustrated, the author is quite comfortable with it.Â â€œI wrote this book as a peace oﬀering, to soften the debate, to erase lines of demarcation, to trace ambiguity and nuance, and to suggest that being a vegetarian should not be so easy.Â Reality is much too slippery for either consistency or consensusâ€ (288).Â But while some aspects of reality are slippery in this sense, surely other aspects admit of much better traction, as I will discuss below. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The raw material for Aronsonâ€™s study is gleaned from interviews of two dozen lapsed vegetarians.Â She claims that the stories of these lapsos are â€œparables for our ageâ€ (3).Â The book divides into a preface, an introduction, twenty chapters, a postface, the questionnaire she used to select her twenty-four lapsos in an appendix, endnotes, a select bibliography, brief biographies of the lapsos, an index of their names, and a paragraph about the author.Â Though there are interesting points in many of the twenty chapters, I will limit my comments to only a.... (shrink)
The decision to publish a doctoral dissertation, especially one which has only been “lightly edited” (foreword, first sentence) and with a bibliography only partially updated to reflect the scholarship of the intervening years, must always seem a risky one. In this case the risk is well taken and the resultant book is a delightful addition to our too meager store of book length overviews of Epictetus’ philosophy in the wider context of Stoic ethics.
Kerry Laird, a literature and composition professor who does not have tenure, is in his first year at Temple. He said that, as a student and instructor, he always enjoyed the way professors use their office doors to reveal bits of their personality and to challenge students with cartoons, artwork, and various phrases. So when he started at Temple, he put a cartoon up showing Smokey the Bear, a girl scout and a boy scout and the tag line: “Kids — (...) don’t fuck with God or bears will eat you.” He received a complaint and decided that he understood why the college “might not want the f word” in the hallway, and so he decided to put up something else. (shrink)
A ‘respect for person’ ethic is the secular perspective adopted by Govier in this sincere, but often disappointing book. It contains a preface, an appendix on religious traditions on forgiveness (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism), an appendix on respect for persons as an ethical foundation, notes, a bibliography, an index, and eight chapters. Her thesis is stated in the preface: that seeking revenge is objectionable for both practical and moral reasons; that the desire for revenge is not deeply “natural” in (...) the sense of being an elemental, culturally independent feature of human nature; and that even if revenge were to be natural in that way, such naturalness would not constitute a moral argument in its favor. (viii) Govier conceives of forgiveness as “a process of overcoming attitudes of resentment and anger that may persist when one has been injured by wrongdoing” (viii). She offers an account of bilateral, unilateral, and mutual forgiveness. Her work has pronounced political import in that she argues that attitudes and dispositions can be attributed to groups, that groups can suffer harm, and that groups can be responsible agents of wrongdoing. As a consequence, Govier contends that groups can forgive. Her method is to employ a host of examples taken from recent (World War II and after) history, sprinkle in a few invented examples, and lay out long-winded and typically repetitive arguments. The result is an occasionally provocative and often overly one-sided treatment punctuated by earnestness. (shrink)
In “Friendship Amongst the Self-Sufficient: Epicurus” (this Journal, Vol. 2, No. 2, June 2001), Andrew Mitchell explores the Epicurean view of the relationship between self-sufficiency and friendship by contrasting it with the views of Aristotle and the Stoics. Epicurus, Aristotle, and the Stoics do indeed have interestingly different views on friendship that are well worth comparing. Yet Mitchell’s characterization of Aristotelian friendship is misleading, his account of Stoic friendship is inaccurate, and his interpretation of Epicurean friendship is curiously imaginative but (...) ultimately rather strange. (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)
Five different arguments for vegetarianism are discussed: the system of meat production deprives poor people of food to provide meat for the wealthy, thus violating the principle of distributive justice; the world livestock industry causes great and manifold ecological destruction; meat-eating cultures and societal oppression of women are intimately linked and so feminism and vegetarianism must both be embraced to transform our patriarchal culture; both utilitarian and rights-based reasoning lead to the conclusion that raising and slaughtering animals is immoral, and (...) so we ought to boycott meat; meat consumption causes many serious diseases and lowers life expectancy, and so is unhealthy. Objections to each argument are examined. The conclusion reached is that the cumulative case successfully establishes vegetarianism as a virtuous goal. (shrink)
Cheney’s claim that there is a subtextual affinity between ancient Stoicism and deep ecology is historically unfounded, conceptually unsupported, and misguided from a scholarly viewpoint. His criticisms of Stoic thought are thus merely ad hominem diatribe. A proper examination of the central ideas of Stoic ethics reveals the coherence and insightfulness of Stoic naturalism and rationalism. While not providing the basis for a contemporary environmental ethic, Stoicism, nonetheless, contains some very fruitful ethical concepts.
This work is the latest contribution to the Clarendon Later Ancient Philosophers series edited by Jonathan Barnes and A. A. Long. As with the earlier volumes (John Dillon's Alcinous, The Handbook of Platonism , R. J. Hankinson's Galen, On the Therapeutic Method Books I and II, Richard Bett's Sextus Empiricus, Against the Ethicists, and D. L. Blank's Sextus Empiricus, Against the Grammarians), D(obbin) provides an introduction, an English translation, and a critical commentary predominantly focused on the philosophical content of the (...) text of an author from the period ranging from the first century BC to the fifth century AD. A bibliography of a dozen earlier editions of E(pictetus), a painstaking bibliography of secondary literature, an index nominum, a generous index locorum, and a brief subject index are also included. Overall this edition maintains the high standards characteristic of the CLAP series. (shrink)