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By Arthur Schopenhauer

ISBN-10: 8817169927

ISBN-13: 9788817169929

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Views of nature’, but the conception of philosophy that underpinned this inquiry was, in Epicurus’ words, ‘an activity which by arguments and discussion brings about the happy life’ (LS 25K). Hence, as Woodruff fully approves, the propriety of my calling the Hellenistic schools ‘experiments in philosophical power’. For an excellent study of how Zeno and Epicurus were perceived, and how they sought to be perceived, by their contemporaries, see Decleva Caizzi 1993. She emphasizes, as I do, the Socratic influence on general images of a philosophical life; but, whereas I am partly concerned with what the competing schools have in common, Decleva Caizzi focuses on differences of lifestyle between Zeno and Epicurus, which, she convincingly argues, reflect salient differences in their detailed specifications of the route to happiness.

What was that? ⁸ Zeno and Epicurus don’t start their ethical thought, as Aristotle does, by reviewing and systematizing established ideas about human aspirations and conceptions of a flourishing life in a Greek polis. Many of Aristotle’s ethical and political concepts are ‘thick’ ones, deeply embedded in a network of such beliefs as the natural superiority of male to female, the right of the free male to rule over natural slaves, and the indignity ⁶ Quoted by Porphyry, Ad Marcellam 31 = Usener 221, and LS 25C.

And one must doubt whether they could have achieved much along these lines under the conditions of ancient politics. However, as I have already emphasized, they present themselves as arts of life for anyone. And because anyone can join the club, the relevant question is what would human society be like if large numbers of people became Stoics or Epicureans? How would the collective good present itself under those conditions? Rather than first asking what Stoics or Epicureans as individuals are motivated to do about human welfare in general, we should ask how a society composed of such people would be disposed in relation to one another.

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Colloqui by Arthur Schopenhauer


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