The Death of Stoicism and the Birth of Aesthetics

My latest post at the group blog New APPS

There is some exaggeration in referring to the death of Stoicism, of course its ethics (which is what concerns us here) is still of interest and has even had a revival, popular and academic in recent years. Nevertheless there really was a death of Stoicism in that the influence  it had from its Hellenistic and Roman beginnings to the eighteenth century in defining ethics has gone. The influence was not quite dominance, since Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics was a major text in the field for much of that period, and many people’s idea of ethics was shaped by Cicero’s On Ends.

However, the Stoic ethical texts of Seneca and Epictetus set the tone for the understanding of other ethical texts, in the emphasis on reason over desire, and independence from external circumstances. Seneca as a character was a philosophical martyr to tyranny on a level close to that of Socrates in a manner that is no longer with us. His forced suicide resulting from the persecutions of Nero served as a widely understood contrast of ethical mastery of desire with the triumph of desire over reason in the tyrannical personality.

For the rest read on here


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