Stoicism

Stoicism

Stoicism

Stoicism

Synopsis

This is the first introduction to Stoic philosophy for 30 years. Aimed at readers new to Stoicism and to ancient philosophy, it outlines the central philosophical ideas of Stoicism and introduces the reader to the different ancient authors and sources that they will encounter when exploring Stoicism. The range of sources that are drawn upon in the reconstruction of Stoic philosophy can be bewildering for the beginner. Sellars guides the reader through the surviving works of the late Stoic authors, Seneca and Epictetus, and the fragments relating to the early Stoics found in authors such as Plutarch and Stobaeus. The opening chapter offers an introduction to the ancient Stoics, their works, and other ancient authors who report material about ancient Stoic philosophy. The second chapter considers how the Stoics themselves conceived philosophy and how they structured their own philosophical system. Chapters 3-5 offer accounts of Stoic philosophical doctrines arranged according to the Stoic division of philosophical discourse into three parts: logic, physics, and ethics. The final chapter considers the later impact of Stoicism on Western philosophy.

Excerpt

Stoicism was one of the most influential schools of philosophy in antiquity and its influence has persisted to the present day. Originating in Athens around 300 BCE, it proved especially popular in the Roman world, while more recently it has influenced thinkers as diverse as Montaigne, Kant, Nietzsche and Deleuze. Stoicism offers a distinctive and challenging view of both the world as a whole and the individual human being. It conceives the world materialistically and deterministically as a unified whole, of which we are all parts. It presents the human being as a thoroughly rational animal, for whom violent emotions are actually the product of errors in reasoning. In the popular imagination it is now mainly associated with the ideas of emotionless calm and heroic endurance in the face of adversity. As we shall see, like so many popular images this one is based on an element of truth combined with an unhappy distortion.

The aim of this volume is to offer an introduction to Stoic philosophy for readers new to Stoicism and it does not assume any knowledge of either ancient philosophy or philosophy in general. It should be of use to students of philosophy, students of classics and other interested general readers. As well as outlining the central philosophical ideas of Stoicism, one of its aims is to introduce the reader to the different ancient authors and sources that they will encounter when exploring Stoicism. The range of sources that are . . .

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