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Because he stages the contest between the views he endorses and Christianity as a major battle of cultures, Celsus’ mode of discourse shows significant similarities with the register commonly attributed to the Second Sophistic. For the same reason his identity as a philosopher emerges only in the course of Origen’s rebuttal.
Celsus penned the earliest known detailed attack upon Christianity. While his identity is disputed and his anti-Christian treatise, entitled the True Word, has been exclusively transmitted through the hands of the great Christian scholar Origen, he remains an intriguing figure. In this interdisciplinary volume, which brings together ancient philosophers, specialists in Greek literature, and historians of early Christianity and of ancient Judaism, Celsus is situated within the cultural, philosophical, religious and political world from which he emerged. While his work is ostensibly an attack upon Christianity, it is also the defence of a world in which Celsus passionately believed. It is the unique contribution of this volume to give voice to the many dimensions of that world in a way that will engage a variety of scholars interested in late antiquity and the histories of Christianity, Judaism and Greek thought.
This chapter explores the scene of conflict with a foreign power in Shakespeare’s plays, particularly the history plays 1 Henry VI, King John, and Henry V, in which war with France provides the testing ground for an exploration of the contrast between foreign and native, or national, values. In these plays, Englishness is largely defined in terms of masculine stoicism and canny tactical knowledge, as opposed to French foppishness. The characterization of the English as providentially favored underdogs up against an overconfident enemy present in Henry V and King John recalls Elizabethan conflicts with Spain and the papacy. Gender identity also factors prominently in Shakespeare’s creation of a sense of the foreign, as he describes England’s island geography as a virginal national space to be defended against invasion. At the same time, Macbeth demonstrates that Shakespeare does not shy away from this conflict between foreign and native on the home front.
What should we make of the glaring absence of the emperor Nero from Seneca’s Epistulae morales – not mentioned once in 124, often lengthy, letters, written by a man who had been for many years one of his closest associates? Although Seneca does sometimes allude to the question of how frank advice may be offered to the powerful, the letters barely touch on imperial politics, beyond advising their addressee that he would be better off withdrawing from the public sphere. Yet if Nero is not present explicitly, there are a number of respects in which Nero’s domination of others as well as his failure to exercise control over himself are constructed as implicit and potent anti-models in the letters. When Seneca reflects on the dynamics of vice in its more florid and imaginative forms (the examples analyzed here are letters 90 and 114), his terms frequently resonate quite specifically with ancient accounts of Neronian Rome (notably those of Tacitus and Suetonius) and other works of Neronian literature (particularly Petronius and Persius). As it turns out, highly refined vices even play a notable role in Seneca’s model of the development of philosophy.
This chapter aims to bring the positive conception into better focus by tracing the positive tradition through some of its twists and turns, and considering in what ways it might qualify as a single tradition. Drawing on the lessons of this survey, a way of thinking about the nature of positive freedom is suggested that is both principled and historically informed.
Connecting sociability with arguments about self-interest and natural law, Grotius adopted an account of moral knowledge and motivation for justice that he found in Cicero. For Grotius, sociability serves as a counter to Epicurean views of moral motivation, but it does not by itself provide the grounds of validity of natural law, nor does it alone ground the obligatory force of natural law. Rather, sociability represents an appeal to a basis in human nature for cooperation in the state of nature. Human beings according to Grotius can be motivated to cooperate and adhere to the rules of natural law, but they are not necessarily so motivated. Importantly, Grotius appreciates that sociability creates its own problems, which Grotius believes can be solved by reason alone. For Grotius, the basis of sociability in human nature is not merely instinctual, but also rational; sociability is ultimately based on a respect for the rights to ‘first things’ such as private property, a respect which itself is motivated by right reason. The notion of sociability was to have an important future in the works of later thinkers such as Hobbes, Pufendorf, Shaftesbury, Mandeville, Hutcheson, Hume, Smith and Kant.
This article argues that the Wisdom of Solomon complicates Martinus C. de Boer's typology of two ‘tracks’ of Jewish apocalyptic eschatology (‘forensic apocalyptic eschatology’ and ‘cosmological apocalyptic eschatology’). Wisdom, which entails both ‘forensic’ depictions of an eschatological courtroom (5.1–14) and ‘cosmological’ depictions of cosmic war (5.15–23), offers a cosmology fundamentally incompatible with the cosmology presumed in de Boer's ‘cosmological apocalyptic eschatology’. Instead of envisioning eschatological justice as the result of a divine invasion, Wisdom envisions it as the result of divine pervasion. That is, cosmological eschatology in Wisdom entails a fully functioning, divinely pervaded cosmos operating as it was intended to operate. Wisdom innovates within Jewish apocalyptic tradition by employing the mythological idiom of apocalypticism to defend the philosophical claim that the cosmos is just and facilitates life for those who are likewise just.
The chapter is a brief attempt to follow the development of Brent Shaw’s work from his first, splendidly iconoclastic revision of the role of pastoral nomadism in Roman North Africa and in the ancient world in general (from 1981 onward) to his recent pair of crowning masterpieces, both published in 2013 – the first, on religious violence in Roman North Africa in the time of Augustine; the second, on harvesting in the ancient world. In between, I have tried to do justice to the breadth and coherence of his principal concerns for major themes of ancient history – for the nature of power and of resistance to power, for the structures of the family, for the nature of the Roman economy, and for the mobilization of opinion (largely of hatred) in the interconfessional conflicts of the later empire.
Christian monastic literature represents a unique genre within Late-antique and Byzantine literature. Scholars have debated for centuries the diverse influences which shaped such texts, but something of a consensus has emerged that, notwithstanding the obvious and predominant influence of the Christian Bible, these texts have also been influenced by the ethical reflections of Greek philosophy.
It is impossible to deny the obvious parallels between the insights of Greek philosophers—in particular the Neoplatonists (soul-body dualism; a transcendent, otherworldly finality of human existence; a well-ordered society which sublimates individual ambition to the common good) and Stoics (to live 'in accordance with reason' or 'self-sufficiently') —and Christian monastic literature.
This chapter will argue that, although Christian monastic writers rarely had direct access to Greek philosophical texts, they nonetheless absorbed the collective wisdom of these texts as filtered through the Hellenistic Christianity of their day, many of whose chief intellectuals—such as Clement and Origen of Alexandria—had already managed a creative fusion of Greek wisdom with the Christian Gospel.
How is the rationality of the Stoic god constituted? Commentators often look to the seventeenth-century ‘rationalists’, especially Spinoza, for their inspiration. But the Stoics say that god’s rationality is the same as ours. Since human rationality is defined as a product of concept-acquisition, it may be that the Stoics had to give an ‘empiricist’ account of divine rationality too. Hierocles’ discussion of animal self-perception shows that the Stoics had the conceptual materials for such an account.
At first glance, Plotinus’ arguments for the immortality of the human soul, principally in Ennead IV 7 (2), constitute a straightforward defense of Plato against Peripatetic and Stoic attacks. And yet, his close reading of his predecessors, especially Aristotle and Alexander of Aphrodisias, led him to confront the following deep problem. The best arguments for immortality rest upon the immateriality of intellect and hence its immunity from destruction along with the body. But, following Aristotle, Plotinus maintains that the nature of intellection is such that the contents of the objects of intellection both identify the agent of intellection and further will be identical for every disembodied intellect. For this reason, it is not clear what it would mean to insist on the personal immortality of anyone. Without personal immortality, though, the ethical dimension of Platonism is, for Plotinus, severely undermined. In the light of this difficulty Plotinus developed an apparently original doctrine that was repudiated by virtually all his successors. He argued that there are Forms of individuals, that is, of individual intellects, and that, since they are eternal Forms, they are ‘undescended’. He argued that the personal identity of any human soul is found paradigmatically in an undescended intellect.
This chapter is about the achievement of immortality in contexts where an everlasting future for the subject is not envisaged. I start with Aristotle’s advice in the Nicomachean Ethics to ‘act as an immortal’ and argue that the talk of immortality does not derive from Aristotle’s own theories about the soul and intellect but rather should be understood with reference to the immediate dialectical context. I then relate Epicurean and Stoic discussions of immortality and ‘imperishability’ to the relevant parts of their theology. The early Epicurean tradition mentions ‘immortal goods’ that can be attained by human beings and are enough to make human beings, in the relevant ethical respect, godlike. Epicureanism contains more than one conception of these ‘goods’, although they should never be identified with either immortality or imperishability. In Stoicism the attribution of mortality and immortality is controlled by strict adherence to a Platonic definition of death (the separation of soul from body) – stricter adherence than we find in the Phaedo itself.
The scholarly conclusions regarding Paul’s relationship with Hellenistic philosophy center around the parallels between Paul and contemporary philosophers (e.g., Seneca or Epictetus) or philosophies (e.g., Stoicism, Middle Platonism, Epicureanism, etc.), each with varying theses on Paul’s uncritical consumption of such philosophies or his savvy redeployment of Hellenism. Aside from encyclopedic convictions that often fund such comparisons, differences between Paul and Hellenism are discussed less often. What if his dispositions and diatribes could be related to his view of the prophetic office undergirding Hebraic philosophy as easily as they could to the rhetoric of the cynic or stoic? This chapter will suggest that Paul’s style of philosophy is largely Hebraic. However, because Paul’s epistles are audience-centric in their formation, so, too, the style is often garbed in Hellenistic philosophy. Nevertheless, the Hebraic style of philosophy is what drives his effort.
Philo’s interest in music is as known as it is overlooked in its philosophical implications. This chapter focuses on the importance of the musical paradigm in Philo’s thought and its relation to the other complementary model adopted by the philosopher: the pattern of the scala naturae, inherited from Stoicism. More specifically, Philo’s appeal to the notion of harmony introduces the idea of some orderly discontinuity in nature, implying both the transcendence of God and the limited condition of human rationality: the world is indeed governed by harmony, but only in the very qualified sense that it implies harmonically defined relationships between very distant entities. This ‘vertical’ harmony, however, is combined with a ‘horizontal’ one, for God also exerts his providence through harmony, while, in turn, music is the intellectual means by which man can contemplate the heavens and draw closer to God. These are not mere metaphors, for music represents a proper philosophical model for Philo that he applies to aspects which will prove fundamental in the post-Hellenistic age.
The dominant feature of the Greco-Roman afterlife was the idea that justice would be served after death. This chapter outlines the manifestations of that idea of justice in a range of forms from the positive vision of eternal existence in the Elysian Fields to the negative images of criminals suffering tortures without end or relief. Many of the essential concepts of pagan eschatological thought emerged in philosophical and literary texts written in Greek. Elite Roman authors of the late Republic and imperial periods appropriated these ideas to send a strongly moralised message in terms of rewards and punishments in the afterlife. Central texts include Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis and Virgil’s Aeneid Book 6 along with Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Statius’ Thebaid. The treatment of the afterlife in these works paved the way for Christianity’s shift from the elite focus of the classical world to include any and everyone in the scope of just deserts after death.
Alix Cohen argues that the function of feeling in Kantian psychology is to appraise and orient activity. Thus she sees feeling and agency as importantly connected by Kant’s lights. I endorse this broader claim, but argue that feeling, on her account, cannot do the work of orientation that she assigns to it.
Contemporary philosophers often talk about the difference (and conflict) between the so-called manifest and scientific images of the world, a distinction famously introduced in 1962 by Wilfrid Sellars. Sellars favoured what he termed a ‘stereoscopic’ vision of the relationship between the two images, according to which a major task of philosophy is to articulate a view of the world that simultaneously takes account of the two perspectives. Sellars’s students soon divided into two camps. One group (e.g., Patricia and Paul Churchland, Ruth Millikan, Jay Rosenberg) has taken the position that whenever a conflict arises, the scientific image trumps the manifest one. A second group (e.g., Robert Brandom, John McDowell, Richard Rorty), by contrast, thinks that certain differences between the two images actually point to some of the limits of science, especially, but not only, when it comes to social categories and phenomena. This chapter explores two examples that encapsulate the debate between the so-called right and left wings of Sellarsian thought, suggesting a renewed research programme for philosophy in general, aiming at articulating the original stereoscopic vision that defines human understanding of the world as an integration of the two images – essentially, a confluence of common sense and scientific sense.
Much of the existing literature on the philosophical antecedents of the capabilities approach focuses narrowly on well-known figures — such as Aristotle, Adam Smith, Karl Marx and J. S. Mill — in ‘Western’ philosophy and political economy. This chapter is chiefly concerned with influences on the works of Amartya Sen and Martha C. Nussbaum and the intellectual climate from which their works on capability emerged. It traces these to traditions — including those of Greek tragedy, Stoic and Buddhist thought — as well as particular influences on Sen’s and Nussbaum’s works from twentieth-century India, including the works of Rabindranath Tagore. In both these ways, this contribution makes a strong case for expanding the literature on the predecessors of, and influences on, contemporary work on the capabilities approach well beyond the ‘Western’ tradition of philosophy, and encourages researchers to consider the extent to which the roots of the capabilities approach can be found in ‘non-Western’ traditions and ideas which have been relatively neglected in the literature on Sen’s and Nussbaum’s works on capabilities. In making this case, the chapter also reiterates some differences between Sen’s and Nussbaum’s views.
The texts in Part Three of the volume reveal Montesquieu’s moral idealism and life-long concern with ethics. He was clearly a moral theorist as well as a political philosopher. In his In Praise of Sincerity (1717) he stresses the importance of providing moral guidance to one’s friends by speaking to them honestly regarding their shortcomings. In his Treatise on Duties (1725) Montesquieu stresses the need, recognized by the Stoics and by Cicero, to observe human duties and attacks Thomas Hobbes by asserting contra Hobbes that there are absolutes of justice traceable to nature and attacks Baruch Spinoza by proclaiming that the world was created by design, not “blind fate.” In his Consideration and Reputation (1725) he observes that we crave the esteem of our friends even more than we desire birth, wealth, positions, and honors, and yet we neglect “probity, good faith, and modesty,” because these traits are undervalued by our friends. In his Discourse on the Equity that Must Determine Judgments and the Execution of Laws (1725) Montesquieu asserts that the “essential virtue” for a judicial magistrate is “justice, a quality without which he is but a monster in society.”
In education and society, resilience and mindfulness are valued more for their instrumental benefits, than for their moral value. They both assist specifically with the evasion of what are seen as negative and harmful emotions, and with the related development of positive emotions and behaviours, for functioning in schools and in society. Yet while resilience and mindfulness are regarded as educational assets today, there are also problematic aspects of their promotion and cultivation in schools and society. Additionally, these qualities can be cultivated for good or ill use, as with other emotional virtues explored here. This chapter examines each of these traits in turn, tracing from philosophical, psychological, and political perspectives how they are framed in relation to emotional virtues, and approached within education and society. As with the emotional virtues explored here thus far, resilience and mindfulness may be useful for the emotional development of young people, but there are also limitations to promoting them, particularly in relation to education for social justice.