It is very difficult to get a clear picture of how the Stoic is supposed to deliberate. This paper considers a number of possible pictures, which cover such a wide range of options that some look Kantian and others utilitarian. Each has some textual support but is also unworkable in certain ways: there seem to be genuine and unresolved conflicts at the heart of Stoicethics. And these are apparently due not to developmental changes within the school, (...) but to the Stoics’ having adopted implicitly incompatible solutions in response to different philosophical challenges. (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)
ABSTRACT: In contemporary discussions of freedom in Stoic philosophy we often encounter the following assumptions: (i) the Stoics discussed the problem of free will and determinis; (ii) since in Stoic philosophy freedom of the will is in the end just an illusion, the Stoics took the freedom of the sage as a substitute for it and as the only true freedom; (iii) in the c. 500 years of live Stoic philosophical debate, the Stoics were largely concerned with (...) the same philosophical problems of freedom. In this paper I argue that (i) can be upheld only in a very restricted way; (ii) is altogether untenable; and regarding (iii), that, although there may have occurred little change in the Stoic philosophical position on freedom over the centuries, we can detect more than one transformation of the philosophical problems that were at the forefront of the discussion. Moreover, that all the conceptions and problems of freedom were linked to Stoicethics, and that the differences between them become transparent when one considers their various roles in this context. (shrink)
This paper is an attempt to reject the classical interpretation of Stoicethics as virtue ethics. The typical assumptions of this interpretation, that virtue is the supreme good and that happiness can be reduced to virtue, are questioned. We first lay out the conceptual framework of Stoic philosophy and present an outline of the reduction of happiness to virtue. The main part of the paper provides an argument for reinterpretation of virtue as rationality. In the last (...) part of the paper – more speculative – we argue against the possibility of reduction of happiness to virtue. The main point of the argument is the conceptual incompatibility of the two notions. (shrink)
When examining the role of Stoicethics within Stoic philosophy as a whole, it is useful for us to look at the Stoic view of the way in which philosophy is made up of parts. The aim is a synoptic and integrated understanding of the "theoremata" of all the parts, something which can be achieved in a variety of ways, either by subsequent integration of separate study of the three parts or by proceeding through 'mixed' presentations, (...) which can be made at varying levels of understanding. In two presentations of Stoicethics we find initially baffling claims about the life of virtue being 'the same as' or 'equivalent to' the life according to nature. These indicate approaches in which understanding of ethical concepts was enlarged and enriched by study of physics. Interpretation which makes physics in these passages into ethical foundations answers poorly to the ancient texts and raises severe difficulties as an interpretation of Stoicism. Two texts which have been taken to commit Stoics to a foundationalist view of the relation of ethics and physics do not in fact do so; rather, they fit well into the holistic view of philosophy and its parts. (shrink)
The contemporary revival of virtue ethics has focused primarily on retrieving central moral commitments of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and the Neoplatonist traditions. Christian virtue ethicists would do well to expand this retrieval further to include the writings of the Roman Stoics. This essay argues that the ethics of Jonathan Edwards exemplifies major Stoic themes and explores three noteworthy points of intersection between Stoicethics and Edwards's thought: a conception of virtue as consent to a benevolent (...) providence, the identification of virtue as a singular and transformative good, and an account of moral formation as simultaneously self-directed and received. Common ground between Edwards and the Stoics illustrates the value of recognizing Stoic moral thought as a philosophical framework that can enhance and undergird Christian ethicists' understandings of moral development and the nature of virtue. (shrink)
Introduction -- A religious world-view -- Stoic corporealism -- Stoic theology -- Two pictures of fate -- Virtue and the virtues -- Definitions of virtue -- Chrysippus : characterisation of virtue as perfect state -- Virtue as consistent character -- The virtues as epistmai -- The virtues, different yet inseparable -- The difference between the virtues -- The inseparability of the virtues -- A catalogue of virtues -- Ethical virtues additional (generic) virtues -- The openness of Chrysippus catalogue (...) of virtues -- Becoming virtuous -- Vice and the attainability of virtue -- Initiation -- Virtue and happiness -- Practices of virtue -- Law and rules -- Law -- Rules and Kathkonta -- Stoic practical reasoning -- The single Kathkon and the versatility of stoic prescriptions. (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)
This essay argues for a formative, and not simply abstract, aspect to the philosophy of religion by attending to the practices of writing employed in Søren Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous work Repetition . By locating this text within an ethical tradition that focuses upon the practices that form subjects, rather than simply the formulation of a theory, its seemingly literary performances can be viewed as exercises. In particular, this text deploys and transforms the Stoic practices of self writing, in the form (...) of keeping notebooks and letter writing, so as to cultivate capabilities. This indirect ethical instruction does not, however, lead to the formation of autonomous ethical subjects, but to the cultivation of capabilities that are only possible in the relational space of vulnerability, service and dependence. (shrink)
I review this fine collection of articles on ancient ethics ranging from the Presocratics to Sextus Empiricus. Eight of the nine chapters are published here for the first time. Contributors include Charles H. Kahn on “Pre-Platonic Ethics,” C. C. W. Taylor on “Platonic Ethics,” Stephen Everson on “Aristotle on Nature and Value,” John McDowell on “Some Issues in Aristotle’s Moral Psychology,” David Sedley on “The Inferential Foundations of Epicurean Ethics,” T. H. Irwin on “Socratic Paradox and (...)Stoic Theory,” Julia Annas on “Doing Without Objective Values: Ancient and Modern Strategies,” and Susan Sauvé Meyer on “Moral Responsibility: Aristotle and After.” There is also an introductory essay by the editor, Stephen Everson. I summarize and then critique each chapter in this rather lengthy review. (shrink)
Twelfth-century ethics is commonly thought of as following a stoic in fl uence rather than an Aristotelian o ne. It is also assumed that these two schools are widely different, in particular with regards to the social aspect of the virtuous life. In this paper I argue that this picture is misleading and that Heloise of Argenteuil recognized that stoicethics did not entail isolation but could be played out in a social context. I argue that (...) her philosophical contribution does not end there, but that she departs from both the stoics and her teacher, Abelard, in her defence of the ideal of moderation. By insisting that virtue must strike a mean between two extremes, she shows that Aristotelian virtue ethics were present in the intellectual life of the twelfth century. (shrink)
I review this fine collection of articles on ancient ethics ranging from the Presocratics to Sextus Empiricus. Eight of the nine chapters are published here for the first time. Contributors include Charles H. Kahn on "Pre-Platonic Ethics," C. C. W. Taylor on "Platonic Ethics," Stephen Everson on "Aristotle on Nature and Value," John McDowell on "Some Issues in Aristotle's Moral Psychology," David Sedley on "The Inferential Foundations of Epicurean Ethics," T. H. Irwin on "Socratic Paradox and (...)Stoic Theory," Julia Annas on "Doing Without Objective Values: Ancient and Modern Strategies," and Susan Sauvé Meyer on "Moral Responsibility: Aristotle and After." There is also an introductory essay by the editor, Stephen Everson. I summarize and then critique each chapter in this rather lengthy review. (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 Stoicethics 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 book makes a vigorous reassessment of the moral dimension in Chaucer's writings. For the Middle Ages, the study of human behavior generally signified the study of the morality of attitudes, choices, and actions. Moreover, moral analysis was not gender neutral: it presupposed that certain virtues and certain failings were largely gender-specific. Alcuin Blamires, mainly concentrating on The Canterbury Tales, discloses how Chaucer adapts the composite inherited traditions of moral literature to shape the significance and the gender implications of his (...) narratives. Chaucer, Ethics, and Gender is therefore not a theorization of ethical reading but a discussion of Chaucer's engagement with the literature of practical ethical advice. Working with the commonplace primary sources of the period, Blamires demonstrates that Stoic ideals, somewhat uncomfortably absorbed within medieval Christian moral codes as Chaucer realized, penetrate the poet's constructions of how women and men behave in matters (for instance) of friendship and anger, sexuality and chastity, protest and sufferance, generosity and greed, credulity and foresight. The book will be absorbing for all serious readers or teachers of Chaucer because it is packed with commanding new insights. It offers illuminating explanations concerning topics that have often eluded critics in the past: the flood-forecast in The Miller's Tale, for example; or the status of emotion and equanimity in The Franklin's Tale; the "unethical" sexual trading in the Shipman's Tale; the contemporary moral force of a widow's curse in The Friar's Tale; and the quizzical moral link between the Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale. There is even a new hypothesis about the conceptual design of The Canterbury Tales as a whole. Deeply informed and historically alert, this is a book that engages its reader in the vital role played by ethical assumptions (with their attendant gender assumptions) in Chaucer's major poetry. (shrink)
The justification of the theory -- Gewirth's argument for the principle of generic consistency -- Objections to Gewirth's argument -- Positive rights and community -- Agents and persons : the dignity-conferring value of rights -- A reconstruction of Gewirth's argument for the PGC around the concept of self-respect -- The unity of the right and the good : rights, virtues, and sentiments -- The unity of the right and the good -- Conflicts of duties : special obligations -- The resolution (...) of the conflict between self-interest and morality -- Justification, motivation, and compliance -- The conflict between self-interest and morality -- The practical application of the theory : a neo-stoic perspective -- The ethical foundations of professional practice -- The application of the PGC in professional ethics -- The neo-stoicism of Gewirth's rationalist ethics. (shrink)
This book collects a series of important new studies on one of the richest and most influential intellectual traditions of antiquity. Leading scholars combine careful analytical attention to the original texts with historical sensitivity and philosophical acuity to point the way to a better understanding of Stoicethics, political theory, logic, and science.
Introduction -- Stoicethics and rhetoric -- Eighteenth-century common sense and sensus communis -- Taste and sensus communis -- Propriety, sympathy, and style fusing individual and social -- Victorian language theories and the decline of sensus communis.
This paper is an indirect critique of the practice of American liberal education. I show that the liberal, integrative model that American colleges and universities have adopted, with one key exception, is essentially an approach to education proposed some 2400 years ago by Stoic philosophers. To this end, I focus on a critical sketch of the Stoic model of education?chiefly through the works of Seneca, Epictetus, and Aurelius?that is distinguishable by these features: education as self?knowing, the need of (...) logic and critical thinking for informed decision?making, learning as preparation for life, and knowledge for integration in private, local, and global affairs. Such a critical sketch may not only help institutions instantiate their own similar aims more effectively, but also help them assess those aims with apposite normative force, which today they lack. (shrink)
The author examines the development of the concept of justice in Arabic philosophical ethics, which culminates in the attempt by Miskawayh to harmonize Plato's concept of what it means to be just with Aristotle's concept of acting justly. Miskawayh's contribution, which draws upon Neo-Platonic and Stoic authors of late antiquity, is shown to shed light on possible modes of interpreting the ethical doctrines of Plato and Aristotle and even to point the way to the solution of some exegetical (...) problems raised by contemporary scholars. (shrink)