Topics in Stoic Philosophy by Katerina Ierodiakonou

By Katerina Ierodiakonou

Stoicism is without doubt one of the richest and so much influential highbrow traditions of antiquity. Now, during this first-class quantity, top students give a contribution new reviews of a collection of issues which are on the heart of present examine. They mix cautious analytical consciousness to the unique texts with historic sensitivity and philosophical acuity, delivering the root for a greater realizing of Stoic ethics, political conception, common sense, and physics.

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More specifically, Julia Annas (1999, 52–71) has recently drawn attention to the important role that “becoming like God” played in the thought of the Middle-Platonist thinker Alcinous (2nd century AD). And as Frantisek Novotny’s comprehensive history of Platonism shows, Platonism of this kind was a primary basis for a good deal of otherworldly spirituality in medieval Jewish, Christian, and Islamic thought, well into the early Renaissance. Rational Foundations Spirituality is, however, a rather suspect topic among many philosophers and critical thinkers today.

Here is one of Plato’s descriptions of this otherworld in a conversation between Socrates and a young man, Theodorus, in Plato’s Theaetetus (176a–c): Theodorus: If, Socrates, you could persuade all men of the truth of what you say as you do me, there would be peace and fewer evils among mankind. Socrates: But it is impossible that evils should be done away with … they cannot have their place among the Gods, but must inevitably hover about mortal nature and this region. So we must try as quickly as possible to flee from here [enthende] to get over there [ekeise].

Is there anything out there to which I really owe something—owe admiration, respect, loyalty, commitment, conformity? •Is reality good? Does the world out there support goodness, or are goodness and reality separate, perhaps opposed to each other? Is goodness itself really real, or just a dream, separate from “the real world” and in no sense real itself? It should be emphasized that these are not only, not even primarily, problems for theory. They are “existential” problems, problems affecting how we see ourselves, how we feel about our lives, potential sources of encouragement or discouragement about life.

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