Cl36Sp08L23StoicEthicsSenecaAb - CLASSICS 36: LECTURE...

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C LASSICS 36: L ECTURE T WENTY -T HREE S TOIC ETHICS IN THE LIFE OF A PHILOSOPHER - KING : S ENECA S LETTERS 1. The good life 1.1 Stoic definition of the good life: living in conformity with nature. Nature = the cosmos, and since cosmos is ordered for the best (see lecture 21), to live in accordance with it is to live virtuously; virtue is not distinctive of human beings. See Chrysippus as reported in I&G p.191 §86. Also Seneca Letter 48 p.99: ‘philosophy has promised . .. that she will make me God’s equal’. 1.2 This good life will also be the happy life (best on every dimension, not just the moral, as cosmos is the best on every dimension). Stoics (like all ancient philosophers) are ‘eudaemonists’. Zeno: ‘Happiness is a good flow of life’. Compare the dog who trots along behind the cart, lecture 22 §2.5. 1.3 But what does such a life amount to? Fundamentally it amounts to self- preservation, congeniality to oneself; hence this is our first impulse in infancy (I&G p.191 §85). • compare the egoism (vs. mere selfishness) of Platonic and Aristotelian ethics • contrast Epicurus on pleasure as our first instinct; but n.b. how both Epicurus and Stoics treat behaviour in infancy as important evidence (‘cradle argument’) 1.4 The 'self' that one must strive to preserve, however, is the developed, rational self of adulthood. Congeniality to oneself is replaced, as we acquire rationality, by congeniality to natural order (universe), of which one is a part, because of its rationality. ‘Reason supervenes on impulse as a craftsman’ (I&G
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This note was uploaded on 06/08/2008 for the course CLASSIC 36 taught by Professor Ferrari during the Spring '08 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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Cl36Sp08L23StoicEthicsSenecaAb - CLASSICS 36: LECTURE...

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