• Athena
    3k
    the Roman Stoics emphasized ethics and practical wisdom.Ciceronianus

    How could anyone emphasize ethics more than Socrates, Plato and Aristotle? I am reminded of the Protestants who divided into several different denominations and each one thinking its interpretation of the Bible superior to the others. I have read the Romans were pretty obnoxious with their since of self importance, and these yahoos destroyed the Greek temples of learning. Oh dear, that reminds me of the culture wars in the US with its increasing potential of another civil war and the possibility that the nonintellectuals could do to the US what they did to Rome.

    The Roman Stoics are generally believed to have "softened" Stoicism and making it more human, less committed to the perfection of the ideal Stoic Sage.Ciceronianus

    Aristotle thought what separated humans from the rest of the animals is their capacity to be rational. That is just their capacity. Reasoning and rationality require constant effort to develop and obviously not many humans want to put in the effort. However, some of the Greeks thought the greatest happiness was the result of making that effort. In the US today some people are strongly opposed to those who think we should make the effort. What is superior about that? Perhaps you can give us an example of the greater humanism Rome introduced?

    Now I will argue against what I said by saying I have heard Roman women were gaining equality. That could make Rome more liberal. Conservatives oppose increasing liberalness while I think the suppression of women has been a draw back to western culture. We are witnessing a political battle between liberals and conservatives now and this seems to be the result of women gaining power. Athens was known for its suppression of women. For many the objection to Jesus was he was too feminine and we know Nietzsche thought Christianity destroys the vitality of civilizations. :lol: Would Nietzsche be a good stoic?

    Oh dear, those thoughts seem wonder all over the place without making a point.
    1. How could any Roman improve on the Greek considerations of ethics?
    2. Is being soft a good thing?
  • Athena
    3k
    :up: I stand corrected. It was my impression that Epictetus, along with Seneca, primarily influenced late Roman thinkers and mores.180 Proof

    I really don't know that much, but I am learning. Wouldn't be wonderful to a color coded map that showed where ideas originated and traveled and perhaps change the shade of colors as the original idea was effected by the thinking in new places. It is easier for me to understand when I have visuals.
  • Ciceronianus
    3k
    How could anyone emphasize ethics more than Socrates, Plato and Aristotle?Athena

    Well, I was comparing the Roman Stoics (e.g. Epictetus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius) to the early Greek Stoics, and specifically Chrysippus. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were not at issue. But at least
    in regard to practical wisdom and public life in politics, I would think the Roman Stoics would be superior to that trio in some respects, given the fact that Socrates got himself killed by the Athenians, Plato made a fool of himself in Syracuse and Aristotle for about 8 years was the teacher of Alexander, one of history's greatest autocrats who presided over the slaughter of who knows how many unfortunates in his conquests. Many Roman Senators were Stoics, which led them to oppose the injustices of some of the emperors (and got them killed).

    I
    Perhaps you can give us an example of the greater humanism Rome introduced?Athena

    The Stoic contribution would probably be through Stoicism's conception of the "brotherhood of man." The Stoic Musonius Rufus, Epictetus' teacher, taught the equality of men and women. Aristotle thought all non-Greeks inferior. The Roman contribution would likely be through its law and natural law jurisprudence (an offshoot of Stoicism), and the eventual extension of Roman citizenship to everyone in the Empire.

    Would Nietzsche be a good stoic?Athena

    Nietzsche's Amor Fati is thoroughly Stoic, though he never acknowledged that to be the case, to my knowledge. Elsewhere he famously berated the Stoics in one of his many rants.
  • Paine
    2.2k

    It is difficult for me to respond to many of your ideas because my experience with these various texts has been more along the line of trying to see a point of view I did not understand rather than forming a cogent view of history and the history of philosophy. I don't know what is happening.
  • Athena
    3k
    ↪Athena
    It is difficult for me to respond to many of your ideas because my experience with these various texts has been more along the line of trying to see a point of view I did not understand rather than forming a cogent view of history and the history of philosophy. I don't know what is happening.
    Paine

    Hum, I am listening to different professors explain philosophy and I wonder if that is fundamentally different from reading? Part of my thinking includes my personal response to the professor, if I like him or not. Or maybe it is my sex and age that shapes my thinking? For me, this has become a wonderful, ongoing conversation and you all are very important to it. It is more than just learning facts. It is looking at how history unfolds and the different characters who have shaped our understanding of the past and our potential for the future.

    For me, thinking we are part of nature and all the secular thinking that goes with that, instead of the religious mythology that is all tied up with superstition, makes a huge difference in our understanding of democracy. The Greek focus was very worldly and about arete, human excellence. I see democracy as a realistic effort to raise the human potential. It is as we create it. Athens is a transition from superstitious thinking, to reasoning based on observation of nature. The gods aren't doing this and that to us. What happens is the consequence of what we do. We are not experiencing God's will but our own great and terrible moments, so we better"get it right" and have good outcomes instead of bad ones.
  • Paine
    2.2k

    I agree that the emergence of classical Greek thinking was a conscious recognition of nature where beings are understood to have come into being according to what they are.

    I don't share your confidence that the logic of history is a path from the purely theological to the purely secular. If one is to see history as having a telos, that perspective becomes a theory of the human condition of the sort Hegel developed. That sort of dynamic is interesting to me and has merit in making models but I am not convinced by it as a theory of the world above all others.
  • Athena
    3k
    I agree that the emergence of classical Greek thinking was a conscious recognition of nature where beings are understood to have come into being according to what they are.

    I don't share your confidence that the logic of history is a path from the purely theological to the purely secular. If one is to see history as having a telos, that perspective becomes a theory of the human condition of the sort Hegel developed. That sort of dynamic is interesting to me and has merit in making models but I am not convinced by it as a theory of the world above all others.
    seconds ago
    12
    Paine

    What is the logic of history? :nerd: Can I call in sick today and spend the rest of the day wrestling with the thoughts you stir in my head? I think one of the most pivotal points in time was when Sparta won the war with Athens. This defeat of the most glorious democracy the world had known up to that time caused Socrates to ponder what had Athens done wrong. Up to this moment in time, I think he was only playing word games his peers and enjoying the attention it got him. But when Athens lost the war, I think he took everything much more seriously, and that set the path Plato and Aristotle were to follow. Ethics is no longer just a personal matter, but leads to the glory or failure an entire city/state.

    This is over-simplistic but Athens was very liberal with very little control of the individual. Sparta maintained strict control of everyone's life and Pericles had told Athens that Athenian values must be defended in war. We must defend our ideals against the wrongs of another.

    Plato takes this up with the Republic and questioning what is the best way to have the ideal city/states. This is, personal ethics are important, but virtues such as courage and commitment to the state is even more important. A philosophy that is political. I don't know how political Stoicism is, but I think we can agree war or getting through a pandemic advances Stoicism.

    Aristotle favored Sparta's very authoritarian organization, where ethics is not an individual matter but a state decision strictly enforced. Sparta won the war. Why? Why would Aristotle favor Spartan authoritarianism?

    Then Rome conquers Greece and embraces Stoicism. quote

    "Zeno taught that a happy life is one lived in accordance with the providential laws of cosmic nature (logos). He advocated virtue as being rooted in reason (the pathway to acceptance of logos) and believed that vice results from the repudiation of reason."

    Okay, who has not said that? I think we have a problem if we cut Thales of Miletus and Heraclitus and others with a more scientific bent out of the discussion. One line of philosophy being a matter of cause and effect and focused on what causes things to happen, and another line of philosophy dealing more a personal matter of what makes a person happy. What is good and what is evil and why did Athens fail in war?

    "a theory of the human condition of the sort Hegel developed." Yes :nerd:
  • Paine
    2.2k
    Aristotle favored Sparta's very authoritarian organization, where ethics is not an individual matter but a state decision strictly enforced. Sparta won the war. Why? Why would Aristotle favor Spartan authoritarianism?Athena

    Which text from Aristotle supports this view?
  • Athena
    3k
    Which text from Aristotle supports this view?Paine

    I love that question. I have made a note of it and need to search for where I picked up that information. I have a long weekend and will hopefully answer your question in a couple of days.
  • Athena
    3k
    Did anyone watch "Hacking Your Mind"? The show is about personal data being gathered and then used to trigger a person's emotions so that the person buys something or votes for a particular candidate. I think we have mentioned how our emotions can lead to bad judgment.

    What is happening today is the best reason to follow stoicism that I can think of. If we learn to control our reactions to emotions, we can better control our own brains and be less vulnerable to the brain hacking that is happening today.
  • Athena
    3k
    Which text from Aristotle supports this view?Paine

    This is not an Aristotle quote but it is quick and easy and considering our own concerns about corruption and the corruption brought on by money, We might want to know more about Sparta's relationship with the other Greek city-states. And regarding stoicism the Spartans are well known for complete obedience to military discipline and very harsh child-rearing practices intended to raise children to adults with strong endurance.

    Philosophers

    Lycurgus of Sparta, legendary founder of the city's constitution
    Laconophiles nevertheless remained among the philosophers. Some of the young men who followed Socrates had been Laconophiles. Socrates himself is portrayed as praising the laws of Sparta and Crete.[5] Critias, a companion of Socrates, helped bring about the oligarchic rule of the Thirty Tyrants, who were supported by Sparta. Xenophon, another disciple of Socrates, fought for the Spartans against Athens. Plato also, in his writings, seems to prefer a Spartan-type regime over a democratic one.[6] Aristotle regarded the kind of laws adopted by Crete and Sparta as especially apt to produce virtuous and law-abiding citizens, although he also criticises the Cretans and Spartans themselves as incompetent and corrupt, and built on a culture of war.[7]

    Greek philosophy, therefore, inherited a tradition of praising Spartan law. This was only reinforced when Agis IV and Cleomenes III attempted to "restore the ancestral constitution" at Sparta, which no man then living had experienced. This attempt ended with the collapse of the institutions of Lycurgus, and one Nabis established a tyranny in Laconia.[citation needed][8]

    In later centuries, Greek philosophers, especially Platonists, often described Sparta as an ideal state, strong, brave, and free from the corruptions of commerce and money.[citation needed] These descriptions, of which Plutarch's is the most complete, vary in many details.[9] Many scholars have attempted to reconstruct which parts of these utopias the classical Spartans actually practised, which parts Cleomenes, and which later classical authors invented.[10]
    Wikipedia
  • Paine
    2.2k

    Where the matter of the application of law concerns this statement:

    Aristotle favored Sparta's very authoritarian organization, where ethics is not an individual matter but a state decision strictly enforced.Athena

    the following from Nichomachean Ethics should be considered:

    Just acts occur between people who participate in things good in
    themselves and can have too much or too little of them; for some beings
    (e.g., presumably the gods) cannot have too much of them, and to oth-
    ers, those who are incurably bad, not even the smallest share in them is
    beneficial but all such goods are harmful, while to others they are ben-
    eficial up to a point; therefore justice is essentially something human.
    10 Our next subject is equity and the equitable (to epiekes), and
    their respective relations to justice and the just. For on examination they
    appear to be neither absolutely the same nor generically different; and
    while we sometime praise what is equitable and the equitable man (so
    that we apply the name by way of praise even to instances of the other
    virtues, instead of ‘good’ meaning by epieikestebon that a thing is bet-
    ter), at other times, when we reason it out, it seems strange if the equi-
    table, being something different from the just, is yet praiseworthy; for
    either the just or the equitable is not good, if they are different; or, if
    both are good, they are the same.
    These, then, are pretty much the considerations that give rise to the
    problem about the equitable; they are all in a sense correct and not
    opposed to one another; for the equitable, though it is better than one
    kind of justice, yet is just, and it is not as being a different class of thing
    that it is better than the just. The same thing, then, is just and equitable,
    and while both are good the equitable is superior. What creates the prob-
    lem is that the equitable is just, but not the legally just but a correction
    of legal justice. The reason is that all law is universal but about some
    things it is not possible to make a universal statement which shall be
    correct. In those cases, then, in which it is necessary to speak univer-
    sally, but not possible to do so correctly, the law takes the usual case,
    though it is not ignorant of the possibility of error. And it is none the less
    correct; for the error is in the law nor in the legislator but in the nature
    of the thing, since the matter of practical affairs is of this kind from the
    start. When the law speaks universally, then, and a case arises on it
    which is not covered by the universal statement, then it is right, where
    the legislator fails us and has erred by oversimplicity, to correct the
    omission—to say what the legislator himself would have said had he
    been present, and would have put into his law if he had known. Hence
    the equitable is just, and better than one kind of justice—not better than
    absolute justice but better than the error that arises from the absolute-
    ness of the statement. And this is the nature of the equitable, a correc-
    tion of law where it is defective owing to its universality. In fact this is
    the reason why all things are not determined by law, that about some
    things it is impossible to lay down a law, so that a decree is needed. For
    when the thing is indefinite the rule also is indefinite, like the leaden rule
    used in making the Lesbian moulding; the rule adapts itself to the shape
    of the stone and is not rigid, and so too the decree is adapted to the facts.
    It is plain, then, what the equitable is, and that it is just and is better
    than one kind of justice. It is evident also from this who the equitable
    man is; the man who chooses and does such acts, and is no stickler for
    his rights in a bad sense but tends to take less than his share though he
    has the law oft his side, is equitable, and this state of character is equity,
    which is a sort of justice and not a different state of character.
    Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, Book 5, section 10, translated by WD Ross
  • Athena
    3k


    How about a different thread started with the last post because the topic is different from Stoicism?
    I find that post requires some heavy thinking. It would be nice to dismiss the whole thing by saying Aristotle was focused on the "golden mean". Not too much of anything. But without more careful thinking it would be wrong to drop the consideration with a comment of the golden mean.

    I spent this morning looking for why I thought Aristotle was in favor of Sparta and didn't find anything that helpful. Maybe this weekend I can check my books. This is important to me because in my head is a whole story about how the Roman Church, through scholasticism, used Aristotle to justify its authority. You know like dominos if you knock one down they all go down. I am afraid my line of thinking needs to be corrected.
  • Athena
    3k
    The Stoic contribution would probably be through Stoicism's conception of the "brotherhood of man." The Stoic Musonius Rufus, Epictetus' teacher, taught the equality of men and women. Aristotle thought all non-Greeks inferior. The Roman contribution would likely be through its law and natural law jurisprudence (an offshoot of Stoicism), and the eventual extension of Roman citizenship to everyone in the Empire.Ciceronianus

    Aristotle also thought women inferior. I think most groups of people thought they were superior to all others. It seems to be a human trait.

    Roman law of nature is not about nature. However, it was used to give Christianity its form. Roman law of nature took what was common to different people and determined that is a truth. I think we could call that rule by reason because they made the effort to understand who is right about something and who is wrong. When I look at Christianity I see a lot of beliefs mixed into it with Christianity taking credit for the "brotherhood".
  • Paine
    2.2k
    How about a different thread started with the last post because the topic is different from Stoicism?Athena

    I did not mean to hijack the thread. I just thought that Aristotle was not well represented as a strict Draconian.
  • Bartricks
    6k
    What philosophical - as opposed to psychological - theses do you understand Stoicism to stand for?

    Note: philosophy is not therapy and beliefs that make people happy and more successful are not thereby shown to be true. (Philosophy is the enterprise of using reason to try and find out what's true. It is not the enterprise of trying to make people happy or successful or psychologically robust).

    So, what claims about the nature of reality - and what supporting arguments - do you understand Stoicism to denote? (Because I think they'll either be banal or obviously false).
  • Shawn
    12.8k
    Philosophy is the enterprise of using reason to try and find out what's true. It is not the enterprise of trying to make people happy or successful or psychologically robustBartricks

    Tell Plato that. :roll:
  • Bret Bernhoft
    220


    Well, instead of embarrassing myself, can you point me towards any resources for deepening my understanding of Stoicism?
  • Athena
    3k
    I did not mean to hijack the thread. I just thought that Aristotle was not well represented as a strict Draconian.Paine

    I have totally enjoyed your post and that is why I thought we could open another thread. I am still determined to find what I read that lead me to think Aristotle favored at least some things about Sparta. I want to learn more and your question hit my curiosity.

    I like your term "Draconian". That is exactly what I was thinking, that Aristotle was Draconian.
    But how can one strive for perfection and not be uptight? On the other hand, he did speak of moderation and the golden mean.

    Weren't all the Greek philosophers a little uptight about getting it just right because the consequences of not getting right are bad? And Sparta winning the war with Athens, threw Socrates and his followers into a spin, questioning what did Athens do wrong, leading to losing the war. Obviously, Sparta had to be doing something right if it won the war. This interests me but it is not the topic of this thread. help
  • Athena
    3k
    Note: philosophy is not therapy and beliefs that make people happy and more successful are not thereby shown to be true. (Philosophy is the enterprise of using reason to try and find out what's true. It is not the enterprise of trying to make people happy or successful or psychologically robust).

    So, what claims about the nature of reality - and what supporting arguments - do you understand Stoicism to denote? (Because I think they'll either be banal or obviously false).
    Bartricks

    Socrates was very interested in happiness and there is much philosophical discussion of what virtues have to do with happiness. Buddhism is missing from this discussion but shares much with Stoicism and those world views are very much about happiness.

    A philosophical way to determine the concern with happiness is to ask a person what he wants and then why he wants it. What do you want and why do you want it?
  • Bartricks
    6k
    That's Plato's definition.
  • Bartricks
    6k
    You are the one who has said that Stoicism contains something important. What? What interesting philosophical thesis - so, not a psychological thesis, but a thesis about how things are with reality - does it contain?
  • Bartricks
    6k
    You haven't said anything there.
  • Sumyung Gui
    49


    What is attractive about Stoicism tho? This is the part that baffles me.
  • schopenhauer1
    10.3k
    At the recommendation of others, I recently dove head-first into the world of Stoicism. And I'm shocked at what I am discovering. The quality and (above almost all else) practicality of the lessons and dialogues is stunning.

    Stoicism reminds me of Buddhism in many ways, especially in terms of framing desire, suffering and what is optimal for growth. Also in terms of the asceticism, and simplicity.

    Has anyone else here researched or even practiced Stoicism? What was your experience with this particular philosophy? I ask, because I am interested in being pointed in the correct direction when it comes to furthering my understanding of Stoicism.

    Maybe I'm missing something? Maybe there is a dark side to Stoicism that I'm not appreciating. Which is exactly why I'm starting this thread; to peek behind the veil.
    Bret Bernhoft

    The problem with Stoicism in particular nowadays is that people divorce it of its full metaphysics and epistemology. They try to take its axiological elements, like you can just take bits and pieces. The philosophy was meant to be followed in its entirety, and that means its huge mystical underpinning. Here is a whole video on it actually.

  • L'éléphant
    1.4k
    What is attractive about Stoicism tho? This is the part that baffles me.Sumyung Gui
    I studied it so I guess I can respond to this. It was practiced in daily life -- you're supposed to not be perturbed about things you cannot change and things that already happened. Do not cry over spilled milk. This is the mind over matter mantra.

    You should look up the practitioners of this philosophy -- Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus. Yes, obviously, we can say -- "easy for them to say don't sweat the small stuff. After all, they're emperors and wealthy land owners. They had achieved great things." But know that Epictetus lived a penniless life all throughout his life. He lived just enough to be able to do philosophical discourse. ( He didn't write anything)

    Stoicism was the precursor for the Christian religion.

    You may not like Christianity, but Jesus Christ lived the stoic life as well and was truly a good, peaceful person, according to history. And yes, I saw the sample of the page where a snippet of his description was written.
  • L'éléphant
    1.4k
    According to Jordan (1987), the Stoics thought that “God, who is Nature, knows the whole system of interrelated causes and ‘what every future event will be,’ including every event in the life of each person.Gnomon
    "God" is a creative addition to the writings about Stoicism, as the movement came about before Christianity, whose conception of God is quite the religious conception we know now. "Nature" or mythological is more in line with it.
  • Sumyung Gui
    49
    Oh I know what it is. I'm just not sure why it's attractive. I was raised Christian unfortunately.
  • Sumyung Gui
    49


    "with a touch of Optimism" How much and of what?
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