From Epicurus to Epictetus: Studies in Hellenistic and Roman by A. A. Long

By A. A. Long

A. A. lengthy, one of many world's top writers on historic philosophy, provides eighteen essays at the philosophers and faculties of the Hellenistic and Roman periods--Epicureans, Stoics, and Sceptics. The dialogue levels over 4 centuries of cutting edge and not easy notion in ethics and politics, psychology, epistemology, and cosmology.

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But it is also and essentially subjective: the eudaim¯on person is someone whose life, from his or her own perspective, is complete, not short of anything they could reasonably desire, and whose long-term consciousness is both emotionally stable and even joyous. ¹² See the texts translated and discussed in LS chs. 21–2, 59–61. 585–6, and for Aristotle, EN 7, 1153b19. 30 Ethics and the art of life I have been writing thus far as if Stoicism and Epicureanism are fundamentally similar as technologies of the self.

Desire for pleasure and avoidance of pain are, as the Epicureans maintained, instinctual drives, and hence basic to our human nature. ¹¹ Both schools are also correct, as it seems to me, in treating rationality as a normal and essential human property, meaning minimally linguistic consciousness, a capacity for means/end decision-making, calculation of consequences, and some capacity and desire to understand the world. These are ethical theories grounded in testable psychological findings. Moreover, they actually presuppose the modern anthropological axiom that adult selves are constructed and not simply given to us ab initio.

This is not to deny that its practitioners lived in accordance with their beliefs. But, as professional philosophers, many of them were concerned with fine points that could not have made a difference in ordinary life. The critical words here are ‘the schools after their foundation’. Woodruff seems especially to be thinking of debates between the later Stoics and the sceptical Academics. While I agree that these debates covered numerous technical points, the focus of my study is on the primary goals of the founding fathers—Zeno, 22 Ethics and philosophical power Epicurus, and Pyrrho.

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