This paper attempts to furnish a Stoic reply to an accusation addressing the Stoics' ideal of the wise man according to which it is impossible to realize their ideal and therefore their whole system has to face a paradox: How is wisdom possible when all people are fools and it is impossible for them to become good? In addition to this question there is another important problem connected with the ideal of wisdom. The Stoic philosophers deny transcendental ideas. Instead they are well known for their thorough-going materialism. Therefore, even their idea of the wise man must be based on experience. How would it otherwise be possible to form the idea of wisdom by a method of analogy if experience did not provide any example of truthful virtue to us? A possible answer to this problem can be found in the writings of Seneca, a Stoic of the first century A.D. Seneca emphasizes the close relation between wisdom and human mortality owing to which it is at least possible for the philosopher who has made sufficiently progress in his efforts to gain wisdom to find lasting happiness in death
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Reprint years 2008, 2009, 2011
DOI 10.1075/bpjam.13.05hah
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