Law, Reason, and the Cosmic City: Political Philosophy in the Early Stoa

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Let us, then, look again at the passage, this time more closely and in Latin: Sed iam sentio me esse longius provectum quam proposita ratio postularet. Verum admirabilis compositio disciplinae incredibilisque rerum me traxit ordo; quem, per deos immortales, nonne miraris? Quid enim in natura, qua nihil est aptius, nihil descriptius, aut in operibus manu factis tam composi- tum tamque compactum et coagmentatum inveniri potest? Quid posterius priori non convenit? Quid sequitur quod non respondeat superiori?

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Quid non sic aliud ex alio nectitur ut, [non] si ullam litteram moveris, labent omnia? Nec tamen quicquam est quod moveri possit. There are two issues about the text, one big and one little.

The Harmony of the Cosmos, the Soul, and Society in Plato - The Harmony Project

The minor issue has to do with whether the word ullam which the manuscripts all have should be emended to unam. But the major issue has to do with the [non]. All manuscripts have it; it is clearly wrong. Madvig ed. Could we not understand the passage appropri- ately with this reading?

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What derivation does not co- here with its principle? What else is there so linked with the next thing that it is not the case that if you were to move any letter the whole thing would collapse? The system is, with the manuscript reading, alleged to be so well built that even if you moved one of its pieces it would still stand up. And we ought, I think, to be highly motivated to give this thought serious consi- deration, at least provisionally. But all no doubt agree that this is usually a desperate last resort. Utrum igitur tibi litteram videor an to- tas paginas commovere? Whether there is anything left to support grand claims about the unity of Stoicism once this text is gone and there may well be is a question that will have to be left to another day.

The work as a whole had three of these prefaces. The Stoic dialogue is unusual in that it involves only the two char- acters, Cato and Cicero. Cato the uncle of the dedicatee of the work and Cicero, who in real life had a complicated personal and political relation- ship, are in some ways the perfect foils for each other, at least in the eyes of the author.

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One is an Academic, the other a Stoic. One is a gifted orator, the other notoriously not. One is a novus homo, the other a distinguished aristocrat from an ancient family. Yet they were united by a shared loyalty to the res publica and an invincible conviction that philosophical ideas need to be taken seriously and have a profound impact on human life. And the sense of an intimate personal exchange is palpable in the Stoic dialogue.

Friendship and Friends in the Stoic Theory of the Good Life

Goldhill ed. Only now it is Cicero who returns the compliment to Cato. Cato had earlier deferred to Cicero. The gentlemanly game of mutual and reciprocal praise is being played with grace and style. In fact, so far we have not actually had a claim that ethics, the branch of philosophy being expounded, is itself a virtue rather than being about virtue.

And what is actually said about logic and physics here suggests that they have contributory rather than intrinsic value of the sort we would expect Cato to em- phasize if he really had something substantial to say about the parts of philosophy as virtues. Here we are, then, with the rigid Cato somewhat over- extended rhetorically and needing to wind up his speech in an or- derly manner. But if you con- sider carefully what he has been saying, it does not seem that his own exposition embodies the grand claims he makes here. He has not given Cicero a maximally tight and connected set of inferences from one claim to another.

Far from it. As far as I can see, the grand claims in the very strong form they are made here are a bit of well-intentioned hyper- bole appropriate in context for the rigidus Cato who makes them, but not actually supported by anything he or anyone else says in the dialogue.

That is not to say that Stoicism as expounded by Cato is incon- sistent; nor do I want to say that there are not some examples of the tight consequence of which Cato boasts. The cohesion among certain doctrines is tight; about the connections among others, well, nothing is said. And yet we have the grand and apparently sweeping rhetorical generalization. This may seem harsh. But my point is merely that it makes sense to treat the dialogue as what it is.

Woolf catches the tone well.

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Faint praise, it seems to me. But Cicero, in competitive spirit, asks for time to prepare his reply. Cato has spoken ex tempore and with little warn- ing, but Cicero who knows the subject well and has had all this time to listen and plan needs a recess to prepare his brief.

Works by Katja Vogt

Law, Reason, and the Cosmic City: Political Philosophy in the Early Stoa. Katja Maria Vogt. Abstract. The book is a comprehensive study of early Stoic political. Law, Reason, and the Cosmic City: Political Philosophy in the Early Stoa eBook: Katja Maria Vogt: Kindle Store.

Not a chance, says Cato. A good lawyer like you, used to handling com- plex criminal cases under the new time-limit rules, dealing with familiar material—no breaks for you! This is friendly banter, and completely in character.

The philosophy of Stoicism - Massimo Pigliucci

I am by no means in complete agreement with them, but humility restrains me: there is so much in Stoicism that I barely understand. At least not so sober that we should carry on casually exploiting it in the in- terests of a certain construction of Stoic thought. Cicero has been challenging the tight syllogisms which go back to value theory, hammering home the point that the purpose of argu- ment in ethics is to change our lives, not our words, and to make and rely on arguments which improve our character if we believe them.

If P then Q. Fair enough. Modus tollens usually is, when you can get away with it. And it is meant to cover a narrow domain only.


Syntax Advanced Search. The examination of common opinions plays a major role in the dialogues of Plato. They taught this art to those seeking a successful political career. Importantly, it is from the late Republic and Empire that we also get some of the best indirect sources on Stoicism, particularly several books by Cicero ; for example. Stoicism , , p.

If only the noble is good then all mistakes are equal and anyone who is not a sage is as miserable as can be and any wise person is happy, even on the rack. Dawson Cities of the Gods p. Dawson is following A. Relevant texts include Pl. See further Dawson Cities of the Gods p. I owe the connection and general argument to Dawson but do not follow him in all details of analysis. See Schofield Stoic Idea of the City pp. See M. For discussion see G.

So Schofield Stoic Idea of the City p. Author: Jed W. Atkins 1. Keywords: Zeno ; Plato ; natural law ; cosmopolitanism ; Stoicism ; republicanism. Restricted Access. Add to Cart. Have an Access Token? Enter your access token to activate and access content online. Perfect action, then, involves substantive knowledge of what is valuable, what is good, and what is to be done.

I argue against two widespread interpretations of the common law: that it consists of rules, and that lawful action is what right reason prescribes. I reject the rules-interpretation as fundamentally misguided. It mistakes Stoic talk about precepts for quasi-Kantian or otherwise modern ideas about rules.

Nature and scope of Stoicism

The prescriptive reason-interpretation is superior. It recognizes that what matters, for the Stoics, is that one is a good reasoner. But it misses the substantive side of the Stoic conception of the law. The sage fully understands what is valuable for human beings, and this makes her actions lawful. It also makes a very good case for integrating the political ideas into the context of Stoic ethics more generally.

And best of all, it makes Stoic political theory seem reasonable, at least in the context of Stoicism as a whole — rather than simply crazy, as it has often looked before — and also makes it understandable why they should want to present this theory as political.