An overview of the ancient philosophers and their philosophical system (divided into the fields of logic, physics, and ethics) comprising the living, organic, enduring, and evolving body of interrelated ideas identifiable as the Stoic perspective.
Five different arguments for vegetarianism are discussed: the system of meat production deprives poor people of food to provide meat for the wealthy, thus violating the principle of distributive justice; the world livestock industry causes great and manifold ecological destruction; meat-eating cultures and societal oppression of women are intimately linked and so feminism and vegetarianism must both be embraced to transform our patriarchal culture; both utilitarian and rights-based reasoning lead to the conclusion that raising and slaughtering animals is immoral, and (...) so we ought to boycott meat; meat consumption causes many serious diseases and lowers life expectancy, and so is unhealthy. Objections to each argument are examined. The conclusion reached is that the cumulative case successfully establishes vegetarianism as a virtuous goal. (shrink)
I show that in Epictetus’ view (1) the wise man genuinely loves (στέργειv) and is affectionate (φιλόστoργoς) to his family and friends; (2) only the Stoic wise man is, properly speaking, capable of loving—that is, he alone actually has the power to love; and (3) the Stoic wise man loves in a robustly rational way which excludes passionate, sexual, ‘erotic’ love (’έρως). In condemning all ’έρως as objectionable πάθoς Epictetus stands with Cicero and with the other Roman Stoics, Seneca and (...) Musonius Rufus, and against the Greeks of the early Stoa. Epictetus’ conception of love excludes erotic passion because of its intrinsic excessiveness and uncontrollableness, which inevitably endanger mental serenity, but includes and emphasizes the soberly rational, purely positive joy of interpersonal affiliation. Epictetus’ account of how the Stoic Sage loves is, I think, more consistent and less problematic than that of the Greek Stoics. (shrink)
The impact of Stoicism on Roman culture and early Christianity was considerable. Unfortunately, little survives of the early writings on Stoicism. Our knowledge of it comes largely from a few later Stoics. In this unique book, William O. Stephens explores the moral philosophy of the late Stoic Epictetus, a former slave and dynamic Stoic teacher. His philosophy, as recorded by one of his students, is the most earnest and most compelling defense of ancient Stoicism that exists. Epictetus' teachings dramatically capture (...) the optimistic spirit of Stoicism by examining our greatest human challenges, such as the death of a loved one. Stephens shows how, for Epictetus, happiness results from concerning ourselves with what is up to us while not worrying about what is beyond our control. He concludes that the strength of Epictetus' philosophy lies in his conception of happiness as freedom from anger, fear, worry, grief, and dependence upon luck. (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 Stoic ethics 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.
The Roman imperial Stoics were familiar with exile. This paper argues that the Stoics’ view of being a refugee differed sharply from their view of what is owed to refugees. A Stoic adopts the perspective of a cosmopolitēs, a “citizen of the world,” a rational being everywhere at home in the universe. Virtue can be cultivated and practiced in any locale, so being a refugee is an “indifferent” that poses no obstacle to happiness. Other people are our fellow cosmic citizens, (...) however, regardless of their language, race, ethnicity, customs, or country of origin. Our natural affinity and shared sociability with all people require us to help refugees and embrace them as welcome neighbors. Failure to do so violates our common reason, justice, and the gods’ cosmic law. (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)
This book is a clear and concise introduction to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. His one major surviving work, often titled 'meditations' but literally translated simply as 'to himself', is a series of short, sometimes enigmatic reflections divided seemingly arbitrarily into twelve books and apparently written only to be read by him. For these reasons Marcus is a particularly difficult thinker to understand. His musings, framed as 'notes to self' or 'memoranda', are the exhortations of an earnest, conscientious Stoic (...) burdened with the onerous responsibilities of ruling an entire, enormous empire. William O. Stephens lucidly sketches Marcus Aurelius' upbringing, family relations, rise to the throne, military campaigns, and legacy, situating his philosophy amidst his life and times, explicating the factors shaping Marcus' philosophy, and clarifying key themes in the Memoranda. Specifically designed to meet the needs of students seeking a thorough understanding of this key figure and his major work, Marcus Aurelius: A Guide for the Perplexed is the ideal guide for understanding this Stoic author - the only philosopher who was also an emperor. (shrink)
Philosophers of sport have debated whether supporting one team over others is commendable or morally suspect. We show how Stoicism sheds light on this controversy. Several caricature views of Stoic sportsmanship are studied. Stoics learn how to enjoy the blessings that come their way without mistakenly judging challenges to be hardships that detract from their happiness. Stoic sportsmen celebrate the successes of their teams while exercising the virtues of patience, endurance, loyalty, and appreciation of athletic excellence when their teams flounder. (...) The Stoic ideal is not to be an indifferent, disinterested spectator, but rather a calm, polite, and engaged sportsman. (shrink)
Landefeld need not be faulted for not cobbling together a unified doctrine of prayer compatible with Stoic physics and logic where none exists in Epictetus. Perhaps this ex-slave fervently needed to unseat contempt for and defiance in the faces of his cruel, abusive human masters with praise of and obedient devotion to a maximally beneficent and providential divine master.
It is curious that the imperial Stoics, following a precedent of Diogenes the Cynic, employ so many wide-ranging examples of animal behavior. For example, what are we to make of the rigid dichotomy Seneca and Epictetus draw between rational and nonrational beings in relation to the diverse comparisons they make between human virtues and vices on the one hand and animal excellences and "bestial'behaviors on the other? Why are the most potent, diverse, and philosophically significant animal exempla found in Seneca (...) and Epictetus? I argue that it is because such exempla serve a variety of protreptic purposes. While appeals to the over-arching rationality of the cosmos may provide some theoretical understanding for the place of human beings in nature, from a pedagogical and rhetorical standpoint animal exempla provide particularly effective guidance for human conduct.Cleverly deployed animal exempla help cultivate aretaic affective dispositions. (shrink)
The Roman imperial Stoics were familiar with exile. I argue that the Stoics’ view of being a refugee differed sharply from their view of what is owed to refugees. A Stoic adopts the perspective of a cosmopolitēs, a ‘citizen of the world’, a rational being everywhere at home in the universe. Virtue can be cultivated and practiced in any locale, so being a refugee is an ‘indifferent’ that poses no obstacle to happiness. But other people are our fellow cosmic citizens (...) regardless of their language, race, ethnicity, customs, or country of origin. Our natural affinity and shared sociability with all people require us to help refugees and embrace them as welcome neighbors. Failure to do so violates our common reason, justice, and the gods’ cosmic law. (shrink)
Stoic analysis of the characters of Yoda and the Emperor reveals the opposing logics of the Force. Yoda initially appears to be a jester, but shares with the Stoic wise man the virtues of timely action, patience, commitment, seriousness, calmness, peacefulness, caution, benevolence, joyful mirth, passivity, and wisdom. The logic of the Dark Side is: Anger leads to hatred. Hatred leads to aggressive mastery of others, which is true power, which is irresistibly desirable. The Emperor uses terror and cruelty to (...) oppress others. Instead of wisely pursuing Stoic self-control, the arrogant Emperor serves his vices and dies suffering. (shrink)
A sloppy, smug, conceptually muddled, and tendentious Christian apologist's comparison of narrowly selected texts from Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Paul, Luke, and Justin Martyr. Following Alasdair MacIntyre, Rowe defends the traditionist view according to which Spirit-enhanced ‘supernatural’ discourse is intelligible only to those on the inside of Christian faith. Rowe argues that morality and religion are abstractions. Rowe presents his translations of Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus, Paul, Luke, and Justin into modern English while also being committed to the traditionist view that (...) such translations are doomed to inaccuracy and distortion. His views invite relativism and skepticism about all kinds of inquiry, including MacIntyre’s traditioned approach. (shrink)
Two principal questions are addressed: In De Finibus 3.54 what position does Cicero imagine the talus to fall and lie? How does this talus simile shed light on the problematic relationship between the Stoics’ doctrine of ‘preferred indifferents’ and their definition of the Good as virtue?
Are animals our domestic companions, fellow citizens of the ecosystems we inhabit, mobile meals and resources for us, or some combination thereof? This well chosen collection of essays written by recognized scholars addresses many of the intriguing aspects concerning the controversy over meat consumption. These aspects include not only eating meat, but also hunting animals, breeding, feeding, killing, and shredding them for our use, buying meat, the economics of the meat industry, the understanding of predation and food webs in ecology, (...) and the significance of animals for issues about nutrition, gender, wealth, and cultural autonomy. (shrink)
Charlie Croker, a self-made real estate tycoon, ex-Georgia Tech football star, horseback rider, quail-hunter, snakecatcher, and good old boy from Baker county Georgia, is the protagonist in Tom Wolfeâ€™s latest novel, the deliciously provocative A Man in Full (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1998). Â In this article I examine the evolving conception of manhood in Wolfeâ€™s novel. Â Two different models of manliness will be delineated and compared. The first modelâ€”represented by Charlie Crokerâ€”gradually weakens and is replaced by the (...) second modelâ€”represented by Conrad Hensley. My aim is to show how Stoicism serves to critique the first model and articulate the second. Â Stoicism, I argue, provides the deliverance of both Hensley and his convert Croker, while at the same time transforming the conception of manliness explored in A Man in Full. (shrink)
Govier conceives of forgiveness as “a process of overcoming attitudes of resentment and anger that may persist when one has been injured by wrongdoing” (viii). She offers an account of bilateral, unilateral, and mutual forgiveness. Her work has pronounced political import in that she argues that attitudes and dispositions can be attributed to groups, that groups can suffer harm, and that groups can be responsible agents of wrongdoing. As a consequence, Govier contends that groups can forgive. Her method is to (...) employ a host of examples taken from recent (World War II and after) history, sprinkle in a few invented examples, and lay out long-winded and typically repetitive arguments. The result is an occasionally provocative and often overly one-sided treatment punctuated by earnestness. (shrink)
Don't Stoics notoriously reject emotion altogether? Isn't it precisely their utter lack of feeling, flat affect, and freakish insensibility which make Stoics seem so inhuman and unattractive? In this excellent book Margaret Graver deftly demonstrates that attentive study of the Stoics' theory of emotion squashes such misconceptions. Graver follows her earlier work on Cicero on emotions with a lucidly written (though at times less than maximally engaging), compellingly argued, and carefully researched investigation which should remain an indispensable resource for study (...) of the Stoics on emotions for years to come. As it is pitched for readers well versed in ancient Greek literature with a fair degree of philosophical training, scholars and graduate students in Classical philosophy will benefit the most from this work. It contains an introduction, nine chapters, an appendix on the status of confidence in Stoic classifications, endnotes, a good bibliography, an index locorum, and a general index. In what follows I will summarize each of its main parts and raise a couple of points to consider. (shrink)
The author’s aim in this quirky monograph is not to reconstruct all that can be surmised about Stoic logic in the first two centuries A.D. of the Roman empire, but rather to concentrate on the three Stoic authors whose extant texts contain remarks on logic. These imperial Stoics, Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, are known for their emphasis on ethics and not for their contributions in either logic or physics. So it comes as some surprise that Barnes can find much (...) to say about what these philosophers thought about logic. As Barnes presents it (defying chronology), “Marcus introduces the comedy; Seneca features in the second act; and Epictetus is the hero” (ix). (shrink)
In “Friendship Amongst the Self-Sufficient: Epicurus” (this Journal, Vol. 2, No. 2, June 2001), Andrew Mitchell explores the Epicurean view of the relationship between self-sufficiency and friendship by contrasting it with the views of Aristotle and the Stoics. Epicurus, Aristotle, and the Stoics do indeed have interestingly different views on friendship that are well worth comparing. Yet Mitchell’s characterization of Aristotelian friendship is misleading, his account of Stoic friendship is inaccurate, and his interpretation of Epicurean friendship is curiously imaginative but (...) ultimately rather strange. (shrink)
This work is the latest contribution to the Clarendon Later Ancient Philosophers series edited by Jonathan Barnes and A. A. Long. As with the earlier volumes (John Dillon's Alcinous, The Handbook of Platonism , R. J. Hankinson's Galen, On the Therapeutic Method Books I and II, Richard Bett's Sextus Empiricus, Against the Ethicists, and D. L. Blank's Sextus Empiricus, Against the Grammarians), D(obbin) provides an introduction, an English translation, and a critical commentary predominantly focused on the philosophical content of the (...) text of an author from the period ranging from the first century BC to the fifth century AD. A bibliography of a dozen earlier editions of E(pictetus), a painstaking bibliography of secondary literature, an index nominum, a generous index locorum, and a brief subject index are also included. Overall this edition maintains the high standards characteristic of the CLAP series. (shrink)
In this interesting book Aronson discusses lapsed vegetarians, which she dubs lapsos. She argues that lapsos struggle with the implications of eating meat, and in so doing their spirits are strengthened. She offers the book not as a polemic, but rather a peace offering to soften the debate over meat eating, trace ambiguity and nuance, and suggest that being a vegetarian should not be so easy.
Born a slave, but later earning his freedom and founding a school for teaching Stoicism to the sons of Roman noblemen, Epictetus (c. 50-120 A.D.) has been a popular source of Stoic philosophy for centuries. Originally published in 1894 by the German scholar Adolf Bonhoeffer and here translated into English for the first time, this work remains the most systematic and detailed study of Epictetus' ethics. The basis, content, and acquisition of virtue are methodically described, while important related points in (...) Stoic ethics are discussed in an extensive appendix. Epictetus is compared throughout with the other late Stoics (Seneca, Marcus Aurelius), Cicero, the early Stoics (Zeno, Cleanthes, Chrysippus), and Christian moral thought. This approach shows that Stoic ethics continues to have great practical and pedagogical value. (shrink)
My project examines the pedagogical approach of the Stoic Epictetus by focusing on seven vital lessons he imparts. This study will deepen our understanding of his vocation as a Stoic educator striving to free his students from the fears and foolishness that hold happiness hostage. These lessons are (1) how freedom, integrity, self-respect, and happiness interrelate; (2) real versus fake tragedy and real versus fake heroism; (3) the instructive roles that various animals play in Stoic education; (4) athleticism, sport, and (...) game-playing as analogies for striving to live virtuously; (5) place, time, and progress in the journey to self-realization; (6) how to live with death and exit life fearlessly; (7) how teaching wisdom is one of several ways the Stoic sage loves others. (shrink)
The norms of simplicity, convenience, unfussiness, and self-control guide Diogenes the Cynic, Zeno of Citium, Chrysippus, Seneca, Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius in approaching food. These norms generate the precept that meat and dainties are luxuries, so Stoics should eschew them. Considerations of justice, environmental harm, anthropogenic global climate change, sustainability, food security, feminism, harm to animals, personal health, and public health lead contemporary Stoics to condemn the meat industrial complex, debunk carnism, and select low input, plant-based foods.
This text remains the only English translation of Bonhöffer’s classic, definitive examination of Epictetus’s ethics. Thorough, knowledgeable, perceptive, and accessible, the unity of this book and its thematic presentation make it an invaluable resource for both scholars and general readers eager to apply Stoic thinking in their daily lives. The translation is crisp, clear, consistent, and very readable. Careful attention to the details and nuances of the German as well as the Greek of Epictetus make this an excellent achievement. This (...) new edition includes a useful biography of Bonhöffer, a new overview of the last twenty years of scholarship on Epictetus, and an extensive bibliography. (shrink)
The vitally important concept of the "person" is featured in this anthology of readings from the history of Western philosophy. This text which is philosophically more serious yet still reader-friendly, offers a variety of authors and a wide historical scope in the Philosophy of Human Nature market that generally neglects this topic.
This book explores both the historical and philosophical contexts of the Stoics’ aesthetic terms focusing on the concept of beauty in metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical arguments attributed to Chrysippus. The author shows that the Stoic theory of value and Stoic aesthetics were not mutually exclusive areas of study, analyzes the Stoic paradox that only the sage is beautiful, and explains the Stoic view that rationality manifests as order, which manifests as proportion, which produces the formal property of beauty, which results (...) from the skillful design of a providential god. The Stoic definition of beauty as summetria (being well proportioned) is thoroughly analyzed. Despite several rough patches of exposition, this book succeeds in reconstructing from Stoic sources a coherent and tenable theory of beauty. The author can be commended for showing that aesthetics has a place within Stoicism just as Stoic ideas have an extensive legacy in aesthetics. (shrink)