In the sixteenth century the Stoics were deemed friends of humanist Christians, but by the eighteenth century they were attacked as atheists. What happened in the intervening period? In the middle of this period falls Ralph Cudworth’s True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678), which contains a sustained analysis of Stoic theology. In Cudworth’s complex taxonomy Stoicism appears twice, both as a form of atheism and an example of imperfect theism. Whether the Stoics are theists or atheists hinges on whether (...) their God is conscious and intelligent, or alive but unconscious like a plant or vegetable. Is God sentient or is he a mindless vegetable? (shrink)
In his A Treatise of Freewill, Ralph Cudworth argues against Stoic determinism by drawing on what he takes to be other concepts found in Stoicism, notably the claim that some things are ?up to us? and that these things are the product of our choice. These concepts are central to the late Stoic Epictetus and it appears at first glance as if Cudworth is opposing late Stoic voluntarism against early Stoic determinism. This paper argues that in fact, despite his claim (...) to be drawing on Stoic doctrine, Cudworth uses these terms with a meaning first articulated only later, by the Peripatetic commentator Alexander of Aphrodisias. (shrink)
John Sellars presents a broad and lively introduction to Hellenistic philosophy. This was a rich period for philosophy, with the birth of Epicureanism and Stoicism, alongside the activities of Platonists, Aristotelians, and Cynics. Sellars offers accessible coverage of all areas from epistemology to ethics and politics.
This paper examines Shaftesbury’s reflections on the nature of philosophy in his Askêmata notebooks, which draw heavily on the Roman Stoics Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. In what follows, I introduce the notebooks, outline Shaftesbury’s account of philosophy therein, compare it with his discussions of the nature of philosophy in his published works, and conclude by suggesting that Pierre Hadot’s conception of ‘philosophy as a way of life’ offers a helpful framework for thinking about Shaftesbury’s account of philosophy.
In his De Constantia of 1584, Justus Lipsius examines the Stoic theory of fate, distancing himself from it by outlining four key points at which it should be modified. The modified theory is often presented as a distinctly Christianized form of Stoicism. Later, in his Physiologia Stoicorum of 1604, Lipsius revisits the Stoic theory, this time offering a more sympathetic reading, with the four modifications forgotten. It is widely assumed that Lipsius’s position shifted between these two works, perhaps due to (...) a better grasp of the Stoic position by the time of the later work. I argue that in fact there is no great distance between the two accounts and that both find only one point of difficulty with the Stoic theory, a point that Lipsius himself presents in both works as merely a matter of expression. (shrink)
Deleuze, philosopher, son of Diogenes and Hypatia, sojourned at Lyon. Nothing is known of his life. He lived to be very old, even though he was often very ill. This illustrated what he himself had said: there are lives in which the difficulties verge on the prodigious. He defined as active any force that goes to the end of its power. This, he said, is the opposite of a law. Thus he lived, always going further than he had believed he (...) could. Even though he had explicated Chrysippus, it is above all his steadfastness that earned him the name of Stoic.1. (shrink)
Modern accounts of Stoic politics have attributed to Zeno the ideal of an isolated community of sages and to later Stoics such as Seneca a cosmopolitan utopia transcending all traditional States. By returning to the Cynic background to both Zeno's Republic and the Cosmopolitan tradition, this paper argues that the distance between the two is not as great as is often supposed. This account, it is argued, is more plausible than trying to offer a developmental explanation of the supposed transformation (...) in Stoic political thought from isolated community to cosmopolitan utopia. (shrink)
This article examines Gilles Deleuze's methodological approach to the history of philosophy. While Deleuze's readings of past philosophers may not stand up to the standards set by the scholarly history of philosophy, they may be approached more productively as a continuation of the approach developed by the ancient and medieval commentary tradition.
The Bodleian manuscript of Epictetus' Dissertationes was identified as the archetype of all surviving copies by the presence of an ink smudge on one page obscuring part of the text. Editors have made a variety of conjectures in order to generate a meaningful text. With the aid of high resolution digital images the text obscured by the ink smudge has been re-examined and the various emendations that have been proposed are assessed.
I survey some important semantical and axiomatic theories of self-referential truth. Kripke's fixed-point theory, the revision theory of truth and appraoches involving fuzzy logic are the main examples of semantical theories. I look at axiomatic theories devised by Cantini, Feferman, Freidman and Sheard. Finally some applications of the theory of self-referential truth are considered.
I examine Henry More’s engagement with Stoicism in general, and Marcus Aurelius in particular, in his Enchiridion Ethicum. More quotes from Marcus’ Meditations throughout the Enchiridion, leading one commentator to note that More ‘mined the Meditations’ when writing his book. Yet More’s general attitude towards Stoicism is more often than not critical, especially when it comes to the passions. I shall argue that while More was clearly an avid reader of the Meditations, he read Marcus not as a Stoic but (...) as a ‘non-denominational’ ancient moralist who confirms a range of doctrines that More finds elsewhere in ancient philosophy. In this sense More continues the Neoplatonic practice of downplaying doctrinal differences between ancient philosophers in order to construct a single ancient philosophical tradition. This is quite different from the approach of his contemporary and fellow Cambridge Platonist, Ralph Cudworth, who was keen to highlight doctrinal differences between ancient philosophers. (shrink)
This essay offers an introduction to Justus Lipsius's dialogue De Constantia, first published in 1584. Although the dialogue bears a superficial similarity to philosophical works of consolation, I suggest that it should be approached as a spiritual exercise written by Lipsius primarily for his own benefit.
This book makes available again a long out-of-print translation of a major sixteenth-century philosophical text. Lipsius' De Constantia (1584) is an important Humanist text and a key moment in the reception of Stoicism. A dialogue in two books, conceived as a philosophical consolation for those suffering through contemporary religious wars, it proved immensely popular in its day and formed the inspiration for what has become known as 'Neostoicism'. This movement advocated the revival of Stoic ethics in a form that would (...) be palatable to a Christian audience. Lipsius deploys Stoic arguments concerning appropriate attitudes towards emotions and external events. He also makes clear which parts of Stoic philosophy must be rejected, including its materialism and its determinism. De Constantia was translated into a number of vernacular languages soon after its original publication in Latin. Of the English translations which were made, that by Sir John Stradling (1595) became a classic; it was last reprinted in 1939. This new edition offers a lightly revised version of Stradling's translation, along with a new introduction, notes, and bibliography. (shrink)
In this new study, John Sellars offers a fresh examination of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations as a work of philosophy by placing it against the background of the tradition of Stoic philosophy to which Marcus was committed. The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius is a perennial bestseller, attracting countless readers drawn to its unique mix of philosophical reflection and practical advice. The emperor is usually placed alongside Seneca and Epictetus as one of three great Roman Stoic authors, but he wears his philosophy (...) lightly, not feeling the need to state explicitly the ideas standing behind the reflections that he was writing for himself. As a consequence, his standing as a philosopher has often been questioned. Challenging claims that Marcus Aurelius was merely an eclectic thinker, that the Meditations do not fit the model of a work of philosophy, that there are no arguments in the work, and that it only contains superficial moral advice, Sellars shows that he was in constant dialogue with his Stoic predecessors, engaging with themes drawn from all three parts of Stoicism, logic, physics, and ethics. The image of Marcus Aurelius that emerges is of a committed Stoic, engaging with a wide range of philosophical topics, motivated by the desire to live a good life. (shrink)
Plato’s Apology is not merely an account of Socrates’ trial, it is also a work of metaphilosophy, presenting Socrates’ understanding of the nature and function of philosophy. This is a vital part of the text’s apologetic task, for it is only with reference to Socrates’ understanding of what philosophy is that we can understand, and so justify, his seemingly antisocial behaviour. Plato presents to us Socrates’ metaphilosophy in two ways: via what Socrates says and what he does. This twofold method (...) of presentation is appropriate, if not essential, given the conception of philosophy that Socrates is presented as holding. (shrink)
This paper examines Pomponazzi's arguments against Averroes in his De Immortalitate Animae, focusing on the question whether thought is possible without a body. The first part of the paper will sketch the history of the problem, namely the interpretation of Aristotle's remarks about the intellect in De Anima 3.4-5, touching on Alexander, Themistius, and Averroes. The second part will focus on Pomponazzi's response to Averroes, including his use of arguments by Aquinas. It will conclude by suggesting that Pomponazzi's discussion stands (...) as the first properly modern account of Aristotle's psychology. (shrink)