More or Less within My Power: Nature, Virtue, and the Modern Stoic

Reason Papers 40 (2):8-18 (2018)
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Abstract

Can the Stoic conception of what is within our power be adapted to fit our scientifically informed view of nature in general and of human nature in particular? This paper argues that it can, but not without a revision of the Stoic’s classical dichotomy of power principle, namely that some things are up to us, while others are beyond our control. Given the extent to which the Stoic way of life flows from a certain conception of what is real, a revision of the latter is bound to affect the former. The central argument is that for the modern Stoic, follow the facts means that nothing is entirely under our control just as nothing is entirely beyond it. Rather, things are more or less within my power, depending on the range of possibilities that living in accordance with a constantly evolving conception of nature affords.

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Christian Coseru
College of Charleston

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