We focus on the question of how expertise as conceived by the Stoics interacts with the content of impressions. In Section 1, we situate the evidence concerning expert perception within the Stoic account of cognitive development. In Section 2, we argue that the content of rational impressions, and notably of expert impressions, is not exhausted by the relevant propositions. In Section 3, we argue that expert impressions are a subtype of kataleptic impressions which achieve their level of clarity and distinctness (...) due to the contribution of expertise. In Section 4, we argue that the expertise in living well not only allows the wise person to assent correctly but also affects the content of her impressions. We suggest that these two models – one’s attitude toward an impression being informed by expertise, and one’s impressions being affected by expertise – might characterize distinct stages of cognitive development. Stoic wisdom is not only a matter of the way one assents to one’s impressions but also a matter of the condition of one’s soul and, consequently, of the kinds of impressions one even entertains. Expertise offers a model of how cognitive and discriminatory improvement through practice and effort can transform the non-wise into the wise. A reading on which the content of impressions is not exclusively propositional illuminates a further aspect of this transformation. If the same propositions are accessible through impressions with different non-propositional content, we can account for cases in which the novice and the expert entertain the same proposition. (shrink)
This essay argues that the Ancient Greek's tales of cannibalism were not really about cannibalism at all, but about more typically Greek issues (such as the transfer of political power, the guest-host relationship, the initiation of youths into adulthood, and so on). Cannibalism is rather the image used to designate the negative extremes of human behavior as conceived by the Hellenic world: social breakdown, barbarism, reversion to animality, and ultimately, the inability to live under the institution of the polis.
This chapter presents several of the dominant ideas and intellectual debates about human beauty from archaic Greece to early Christianity. At issue are ideals of character, ethical ideals of who one should be and how one should live. What constitutes beauty and why beauty matters change alongside conceptions of body and soul, virtue and happiness, and the relationship between human beings and the divine.
In Against the Musicologists (Math. 6), Sextus uses two types of arguments against musicology. Some would argue that a science of music – does not contribute to a happy life, while others deny that such a science has ever been established. Since the respective beliefs that musicology exists and that it benefits those who have mastered it are fine specimens of dogmatism, all Sextus has to do is to set the naysayers and the believers against each other in good Pyrrhonian (...) fashion. If their accounts balance each other out, he can go on to suggest that reasonable inquirers will suspend judgement as to the truth about these matters, while leaving everyday musical practice intact. Against the Musicologists thus lends itself to being read as an attempt to display the Sceptical capacity to motivate suspension of judgement in a specific domain where the Sceptic has detected dogmatic belief. -/- In what follows, I develop a reading of the treatise along these lines. In Section 5.1, I argue that Sextus’ polemical engagement with philosophical musicology sits well with the project of the treatise to which it belongs, and with a plausible understanding of his philosophical position as presented in the Outlines of Pyrrhonism (Pyr.). Then I turn to the two kinds of arguments that are contrasted by Sextus as being ‘more dogmatic’ and ‘more aporetic’ in spirit. After their brief presentation in Section 5.2, explaining the nature of their contrast by pointing to the diverging agendas that they originally served, I give an overview of both as ultimately aiming at epochē in Sections 5.3 and 5.4. Finally, in Section 5.5, I push back against readings that take the treatise to present a deviation from the suspensive outlook. (shrink)
Many attempts have been made to define the precise philosophical outlook of Ovid's account of cosmogony from the beginning of the Metamorphoses, while numerous different and interconnected influences have been identified including Homer, Hesiod, Empedocles, Apollonius Rhodius, Lucretius and Virgil. This has led some scholars to conclude that Ovid's cosmogony is simply eclectic, a magpie collection of various poetic and philosophical snippets haphazardly jumbled together, and with no significant philosophical dimension whatsoever. A more constructive approach could see Ovid's synthesis of (...) many of the major cosmogonic works in the Graeco-Roman tradition as an attempt to match textually his all-encompassing history of the universe that purports to stretch from the first beginnings of the world up to the present day. Furthermore, if the beginning of the Metamorphoses is designed to be both cosmologically and intertextually all-encompassing, it is surprising that the influence of arguably the major philosophical work on cosmogony from the ancient world, Plato's Timaeus, remains to be evaluated. (shrink)
According to an ancient stereotype, prominent in Cicero’s writings, Stoics hated rhetoric and were really bad it. But Horaces’ Satires are populated with lecturing Stoics using colorful, effusive language to cure their audience. The paper asks how “rhetorical” Stoics really were and argues that there was a continued tradition of Stoic rhetoric linking the diatribic speech of the Imperial period to its Hellenistic practitioners. It surveys the evidence for Stoic orators and rhetorical writers in the Hellenistic period and presents evidence (...) that Greek Stoics were more eloquent than their stereotype. The paper also suggests reasons for the wood-cut and sometimes fictitious representation of Stoic rhetoric in ancient accounts, in particular a propensity for classification in rhetorical theory, Cicero's dissatisfaction with Stoic terminology, and Cicero's own agenda in self-fashioning his image as an orator and writer of philosophy. (shrink)
The Stoa might be not the first philosophical school that comes to mind when considering the most important ancient contributions to aesthetics, yet multiple extant fragments show that the Stoics had a non-marginal theoretical interest in aesthetic properties. Probably the most important piece of evidence for the Stoic attempts to theorize beauty is the definition of beauty as summetria of parts with each other and with the whole. In the first half of this article, I present and analyse the main (...) evidence for this definition. Then I discuss Plotinus' critique of the definition and argue that it contains some pertinent remarks that, with support of additional evidence, lead to the conclusion that the Stoics conceptualized aesthetic properties as supervening on functional composition. (shrink)
This strange dialogue becomes intelligible when Socrates is treated as a model of the good man who appears to the Many to be bad talking with a Hippias who is a model of the bad man who appears to the Many to be good. The good and apparently good are dramatized through these models. The good is revealed to be the fitting, while the fine/beautiful (kalon) is revealed to be the apparently fitting (hence the many confusions between the two concepts). (...) Fittingness may be perceived through the senses, but this immediate aesthetic fittingness is confused by the Many with pragmatic fittingness which can actually only be perceived over time and with rational thought. Many associated themes are condensed into this short but brilliant philosophical drama. (shrink)
In this essay, I consider the philosophical purposes served by Seneca’s insistently violent imagery and argue that Seneca appears to provide what I term an “erotica of death.” In the Roman context, a context in which violence and violent death are regular features of popular entertainment, there is a worry that Seneca’s vivid depictions of violent death can only aim at eliciting more of the intoxicating pleasure Romans derived from their spectacles. However, where the spectacle features as a species of (...) death denial, a “pornography” in which death is stripped of its emotive and symbolic content, Seneca provides an “erotica” in which raw physical detail serves to announce and evoke emotive responses to death. He thus works against the Roman taboo on expressing fear and the equation of fear with cowardice in order to court the dismay and disgust necessary as a precondition for a robust therapy for death anxiety. (shrink)