Stoicism has ratings and 23 reviews. Scriptor Ignotus said: Although today Stoicism is celebrated primarily as an ethical philosophy, John Sellars’s. “Stoicism needs a new work of this kind. Sellars not only takes good account of the last thirty years of research, he also has much of his own to contribute. Peter chats about Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus with John Sellars, an expert on Roman Stoicism and the reception of Stoicism in the.

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Interview: John Sellars

One of the most popular of the Hellenistic schools of philosophy in antiquity, Stoicism flourished for some five hundred years and has remained a constant presence throughout the history of Western philosophy. Its doctrines appealed to people from all strata of ancient society-from the slave Epictetus stoicidm the emperor Marcus Aurelius.

This book provides a lucid, comprehensiv One of the most popular of the Hellenistic schools of philosophy in antiquity, Stoicism flourished for some five hundred years and has remained a constant presence throughout the history of Western philosophy. This book provides a lucid, comprehensive introduction to this great philosophical school.

It gives an overview of the history of the school, covers its philosophy as a system, and explores the three main branches of Stoic theory. John Sellars includes historical information on the life and works of the ancient Stoic philosophers and summaries, analyses, and appraisals of their principal doctrines in logic, physics, and ethics. He also includes a fascinating account of the Stoic legacy from later antiquity to the present.

The volume includes a glossary and chronology, which, together with its accessible yet authoritative approach, makes it the ideal choice for students, scholars, and general readers interested in what Stoicism has meant, both philosophically and historically, for western civilization.

Paperbackpages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Stoicismplease sign up. Lists with This Book. Aug 31, Scriptor Ignotus rated it really liked it Shelves: Although today Stoicism is celebrated primarily as an ethical philosophy, John Sellars’s introduction demonstrates that Stoic thought was, in the time of its flourishing from the third century BC to the third century AD, a far more comprehensive intellectual system than it is commonly given credit for.

The famed Stoic ethical practices were one aspect of a much broader worldview, and Stoic thinkers made important contributions to logic, etymology, and physics, as well as to ethics. In the field Although today Stoicism is celebrated primarily as an ethical philosophy, John Sellars’s introduction demonstrates that Stoic thought was, in the time of eellars flourishing from the third century BC to the third century AD, a far more comprehensive intellectual system than it is commonly given credit for.

In the field of logic, for example, they complemented Aristotelian syllogisms, which are based on objects stolcism terms, with syllogistic logic that is based on propositions. Sellars discusses each of these areas in turn after giving us a brief overview of the lives of its most important thinkers. The Stoics were thoroughly materialistic as opposed to idealisticnaturalistic, and empirical. Deriving from the Cynics, the Stoics conceived of everything “real” as having some sort of material substance.

As with the Cynics, Stoic ideas revolved sgoicism the supremacy of “nature” as an organizing principle. As materialists, they tended to reject anything that we might classify as forms of reification: This is perhaps best demonstrated by one of the more peculiar Stoic teachings: They acknowledged a distinction between nonsensical “utterances” that have no intrinsic meaning, and “sayables”, which se,lars utterances that express a certain meaning.


The Art of Living: Professor John Sellars on Stoicism as a Medicine for the Mind

However, these apparent meanings were taken by the Stoics to be incorporeal and were therefore classified as things that merely “subsist”, as opposed to things that exist. The meanings of sayables have no body, and as naturalists, the Stoics saw bodies as the only sticism that mohn act or be acted upon.

Sellars illustrates how bizarre this claim is in the following way: So why, then, do people clearly act in response to verbal communication if the meaning of these communications doesn’t exist?

The Stoics have an entirely materialist and “body-based” answer: The rigid naturalism of the Jhon made their philosophy highly deterministic, and their ethical system was largely a method of reconciling a rather flimsy conception of the individual to the unimpedible power of nature.

Fundamentally, Stoic ethical teaching instructs stoivism to recognize what is and is not in our control. They believed that virtually all human misery was caused by a failure to properly make this distinction. Nature will be what it is, but there is still room for individual happiness if we are able to reconcile ourselves to the stoicsm of nature on the inside.

The Stoics are commonly thought to have tried to suppress all of their emotions, but this isn’t really the case. They accepted the naturalness and inevitability of “knee-jerk” emotional reactions; the sudden seizure of the passions, flights of fear, and the like.

These initial reactions are natural, but the Stoics saw sustained emotional distress as a choice, wrongfully but willingly entered into by the ignorant. Much like Socrates and Plato, the Stoics believed that virtue is constituted by knowledge; meaning that unethical behavior stems from ignorance of the truth rather than any genuine malicious intent on the part of the wrongdoer.

That the Stoics would take such a position is interesting, because they also stressed the notion that virtue is something that stoicisn to be practiced and cultivated, in addition to being merely theorized about.

But if one knew the theory of Stoic virtue perfectly well at a theoretical level, and virtue sellaars constituted by knowledge, then wouldn’t they naturally lead a perfectly virtuous and ethical life? Why the emphasis on practice when merely knowing about proper ethics wills us to ethical behavior?

The answer seems to be that the Stoics saw practical application as the summation of knowledge; the capstone of theoretical learning. One jojn be said to have knowledge about ethics until they actually practiced proper ethics. Jan 03, Tanvika rated it really liked it. It is an art which is to be both understood and practiced spiritual exercises. The ideals to be virtuous are quite high, even seemingly unattainable like Socrates, Cato.

We come to the philosophical part of stoicism. It contains logic, physics and ethics. Logic differs from the Aristotle syllogism. It contains if and then propositions. The source of knowledge is basically de ‘Philosophy is a medicine to cure the disease of the soul. The source of knowledge is basically derived from experience and written down in form of propositions.


These statements are either assented or rejected based on the clear, accurate nature of the impressions we receive. The physics is chiefly materialistic like the body. It also has incorporeal like void, time,space and sayables. God is nature with consciousness. It reminded me of Spinoza’s philosophical god.

The soul is partially materialistic. Consciousness is not derived from the body. It bears some similarity to the charvaka’s notion of a material soul. Another important debate dealt in this is regarding freewill and determinism.

‘What is a Stoic? Some Historical Reflections’ by John Sellars – Modern Stoicism

The stoics try to overcome the conflict by using the argument of this world being selllars best of possible world made by God when we see holistically. Though it sounds too crude, it is in fact the following of virtue. For eg if a dictator begans ruling the country, I may still be openly critical about him. This stoicjsm because subjugation will damage my pscyhological freedom. In certain cases even suicide is also justified like Socrates, Senecas death.


On emotions,the stoics consider unbridled delight or sorrow to be caused by wrong perception.

They can be cured by applying rationality to the impression we receive. It has similarities with Buddhist idea of giving up attachment to concepts, so as to be able to accept the reality of things. Recurring paragraphs and excessive detailing may be a barrier for the layman. A comprehensive bibliography further aroused my interest to know about the works of stoic philosophers.

Apr 01, Leo Horovitz rated it really liked it Shelves: An excellent introduction to Stoicism and a very easy read. The general organization of the book resembles that found in Cynics from the same series. It begins with a brief overview of the development of Stoicism through the centuries, from the 4th century BCE to the movement’s seeming decline in the 3rd century CE.

After this initial chapter follows a chapter on the overview of the Stoic system of philosophy, three chapters dedicated to the main parts of this system, namely: Stoicism constitutes a very interesting school of philosophy, sharing ideas with Cynicism in the views concerning the good life, in the idea of living according with nature, in the view of virtue being the only real good, but adding a system of theoretical philosophy in areas such as logic and physics, subjects which the Cynics disregarded completely.

Stoic logic is a subject worthy of attention, it presents a complement to Aristotle’s syllogisms in that it deals with propositional logic, which the inventor of logic left out completely. Other interesting strands of thought are found in their idea of lekta. A lekton is that which a word means, which is distinct from that to which it refers. This distinction resembles the one made some years later by Gottlob Frege. Another interesting side of this is the fact that the Stoic conception of physics and metaphysics is such that only matter exists, which poses a problem for these lekta, which are somehow “real” in that they are that which is meant by words, but still don’t exist, in that they are not material.

The Stoics try to get out of the problem by saying that they “subsist”.

Other things that are somehow real but not material and hence not existent are time, space and the void, all of which are said to subsist. This connects to the discussion concerning sentences referring to non-existent entities, active in the early 20th century and something in which Bertrand Russell was engaged.

The problem of the what sentences like “The current king of France” refer to was said to be something which did not exist, but nevertheless subsisted. Russell had a different solution to sentences such as this, but this is way beyond the discussion of the topic of this book, stoicosm point is that there are seemingly many interesting areas of philosophy where Stoics have ideas which arise again many centuries later.

Another such interesting example concerns their view of god. The Stoic god is pantheistic, it is somehow identical to nature and permeates it throughout.

This is also connected to a conception of nature as completely deterministic and without any room for free will. Those at least vaguely familiar with the history of philosophy stoicisj start thinking about Spinoza right about now. The only thing that is a bit irritating about the book is that the author sometimes repeats himself needlessly, this affects the reading experience at times though not too muchan experience which is otherwise a thoroughly pleasant.