Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Stoic Theology Resource Guide, Part Two

Here's Part Two. (And, in case you missed it here is Part One, and here is The Introduction to this ongoing series on Stoic Theology From A Pagan Perspective -- which, I promise, will involve more than just lists of books. Although that "Introduction" is, well, kinda rangy. It involves the great philosopher Pierre Hadot, the movie Avatar, Bondage Fairies, Dinosaur Comics.....)

The following should be on anyone's short list, but they can wait until you've made a good start on the "core" works in Part One. But the two at the end of this list are both available free online! There is are at least one more installments coming.

Hellenistic Philosophy of Mind
by Julia Annas
Annas' book at googlebooks
Description from the publisher's website:
Hellenistic Philosophy of Mind is an elegant survey of Stoic and Epicurean ideas about the soul—an introduction to two ancient schools whose belief in the soul's physicality offer compelling parallels to modern approaches in the philosophy of mind. Annas incorporates recent thinking on Hellenistic philosophy of mind so lucidly and authoritatively that specialists and nonspecialists alike will find her book rewarding.

In part, the Hellenistic epoch was a "scientific" period that broke with tradition in ways that have an affinity with the modern shift from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to the present day. Hellenistic philosophy of the soul, Annas argues, is in fact a philosophy of mind, especially in the treatment of such topics as perception, thought, and action.
"In her systematic examination of Stoic and Epicurean theories of mind, Julia Annas seeks to demonstrate the innovative nature of their views. According to Annas' exactingly lucid book, the Stoic and Epicurean accounts are philosophically worthy and, properly construed, the first genuine theories of mind. . . . Annas carefully and sympathetically attends to the arguments that the Stoics and Epicureans construct, while indicating their defects. As a result, we gain a sense of the enormous attraction of their reasoned, philosophical positions. . . . A model of philosophical scholarship about Hellenistic antiquity."—Glenn Lesses, Canadian Philosophical Review

"Usually, such a work becomes at some point too scholarly to be read by . . . amateurs. This is not the case here. It's an admirable accomplishment."—David K. Glidden, University of California Riverside
Stoic Studies
A.A. Long
Long is Da Man. I already included his Epictetus: A Stoic and Socratic Guide to Life as part of the "core" of this Resource Guide. Stoic Studies is a collection of some of his greatest hits. Please take note, in the excerpt below from the BMCR review, that Long devotes separate chapters to Homer, Heraclitus, and Socrates and their (profound and pervasive) influence on Stoicism. This is yet another reminder that Stoicism must not be viewed in isolation, but rather as an integral part and vital expression of Hellenismos in the broadest, deepest, and best sense of the word.
Stoic Studies at Googlebooks
BMCR review
Excerpt from BMCR:

Long has selected twelve of his articles previously published in journals and conference proceedings between 1971 and 1993 for this volume. Brief postscripts have been added to chapters 1, 6, and 7 because their topics "have been the subject of much discussion during the intervening years" (xi). The breadth of scope, holistic approach, interpretive creativity, careful scholarship, and sensitive understanding of Long's work on Stoicism is well displayed in this volume. Moreover, the presence of Epictetus on both the first and last page of the book is telling and pleasing. Telling, because Long devotes extended discussions to Epictetus in Chapters 4, 7, 8, and 12. Pleasing, because Epictetus' importance in the history of the Stoa has been too often unfairly downplayed by many scholars. The attention Epictetus deservedly receives from Long, therefore, is salutary. Long has tried to create a reasonably coherent volume by grouping the selected chapters around "three themes: the Stoics' appropriation and interpretation of their intellectual tradition (chapters 1-4), their ethics (chapter 5-9), and their psychology (chapters 10-12)" (xii).

Chapter 1, "Socrates in Hellenistic philosophy" (Classical Quarterly 38 [1988]), discusses the ways the Hellenistic philosophers saw themselves as the heirs or critics of Socrates, as well as the doctrines and characteristics of Socrates that were incorporated into, or removed from their philosophical paradigms. Long makes a cogent case for the Stoics' Socratic orientation in his analysis of Euthydemus 278e-281e, and in the process offers convincing corrections of Vlastos which are, if anything, too deferential. In his postscript to this chapter Long stands by his article "Aristotle's legacy to Stoic ethics" (Bulletin of the University of London Institute of Classical Studies 15 [1968]) where he argued that the Stoics reflected seriously on Aristotle's ethics. He writes: "Then as now I took Socrates to be their dominant inspiration, but I still think (in spite of Sandbach 1985) that the hypothesis of some Aristotelian influence on Zeno and his followers is probably correct" (34). It would seem appropriate, then, to have included "Aristotle's legacy" with these first four chapters, since it is also relevant to several of the later chapters.

In chapter 2, "Heraclitus and Stoicism" (Philosophia 5/6 [1975/6]), Long argues for "a serious historical link between Heraclitus and the Stoics" (37). Long's examination of Cleanthes' Hymn to Zeus leads him to judge that Cleanthes had a much deeper understanding of Heraclitus than we find in Plato, Aristotle, or Theophrastus (46).

Chapter 3, "Stoic readings of Homer" (Homer's Ancient Readers, edd. Lamberton and Keaney [Princeton University Press, 1992]), is one of the freshest and most interesting of the collection. Long attributes to modern scholars the theory that Stoic philosophers, beginning with Zeno, interpreted Homer as a crypto-Stoic allegorist. He then introduces the following distinction: "A text will be allegorical in a strong sense if its author composes with the intention of being interpreted allegorically. A text will be allegorical in a weak sense if, irrespective of what its author intended, it invites interpretation in ways that go beyond its surface or so-called literal meaning" (60). Long proceeds to argue that the Stoics in fact took Homer to be neither a strong nor a weak allegorist. First, Long presents sensible reasons for rejecting the idea that the Heraclitus who authored Homeric problems: Homer's allegories concerning the gods was an official Stoic. Second, he rejects the polemical evidence of the Epicurean in Cicero's De natura deorum i. 41 in favor of the Stoic Balbus' statements in ii. 63-72. Third, he uses Cornutus' Compendium of the tradition of Greek theology to show that "For Cornutus neither Homer nor Hesiod is a crypto-Stoic. Both are transmitters of myths" (73). Long's alternative theory is that the Stoics to a great extent recognized that myth is the ancient sages' mode of interpreting the world. He concludes that the Stoics "did not make the mistake of supposing that a myth's meaning is identical either to its function in a larger story (the personification of concepts) or to a secret message inscribed by the storyteller" (83). Nuanced discussions of strong and weak allegory, metonymy, and euhemerism make this a fascinating chapter.

From Epicurus to Epictetus:
Studies In Hellenistic And Roman Philosophy

by A. A. Long
From Epicurus to Epictetus at Googlebooks
BMCR review
Excerpt from BMCR review:

This volume collects 18 essays by Professor A. A. Long. All but one were previously published in a journal or multi-author volume between 1978 and 2003, but they have been revised for this collection and most of the older pieces have received a postscript that takes notice of more recent literature on the topic in question and (in some cases) replies to objections raised since the original publication. As its title indicates, the book's subject-matter is much broader in scope than that of Long's previous collection, Stoic Studies (Cambridge University Press, 1996).

In addition to essays on a variety of topics in both Greek and Roman Stoicism, there are papers on Greek scepticism (in both its earlier and later phases), Epicurean physics and ethics, and the philosophy of Cicero. The collection is given a certain degree of unity by the author's emphasis on the commonalities shared by the different philosophical schools of the Hellenistic period, by the careful attention paid throughout to the cultural and literary contexts of ancient philosophy, and by an interest (displayed especially in the more recent essays) in Hellenistic theories of selfhood and personhood. It is also worth noting that, while some of these pieces are pitched towards specialists in ancient philosophy, others are intended primarily for non-specialist classicists and philosophers or for the simply curious. This produces some shifts in tone from essay to essay and has the inevitable result that no particular reader will find every part of the collection equally interesting. But it also makes it possible to recommend this well-produced book to anyone who is interested in Hellenistic or Roman intellectual life.

The book begins with two general essays on Hellenistic ethics. The remaining papers are organized into sections by school or period: scepticism; Epicureanism; early Stoicism; and finally Roman philosophy, including both Cicero and the Roman Stoics. I shall comment on each of the papers below, preserving the order of the sections (but not the order of the papers within each section) . . . .

The book's final section contains five essays on Roman philosophy. Particularly rich in its implications is "Stoic Philosophers on Persons, Property-Ownership, and Community." This paper argues (drawing on a great deal of evidence from the Roman period) that Stoicism prefigures the early modern concept of "person" in significant ways--most importantly, in making self-consciousness the crucial attribute of a "person." Persons are rational beings, and rational beings are conscious of themselves in a particular way, as possessing a power to assent to (or to withhold assent from) the impressions they receive. This power of assent lies at the core of a rational self and is for the Stoics the paradigm case of property-ownership: every person owns his or her self inalienably. For the Stoics the idea of ownership is, then, grounded in human nature and tied closely to personal identity; Long examines these connections and considers their consequences for Stoic political philosophy.

"Epictetus on Understanding and Managing Emotions" begins with a brief introduction to the Stoic theory of emotions and then makes a number of observations about the particular (and sometimes peculiar) ways in which Epictetus applies the theory in his Discourses.

Two fine papers on Cicero consider the Roman orator not merely as a source of information about earlier thought but as engaged in a serious philosophical project of his own. "Cicero's Plato and Aristotle" shows that Cicero carefully deploys those two famous figures in his philosophical writings in such a way as to bolster his claims about the importance of combining the practice of philosophy with rhetoric. "Cicero's Politics in De officiis" argues that in his final major philosophical work Cicero gauges his presentation of Stoic moral theory so as to send a timely message to his fellow-citizens during the ongoing crisis of civil war. Cicero believes that tensions in Roman ideology (particularly the problematic ideal of gloria, which motivates citizens simultaneously to pursue the common good of the community and to seek their own "glorification") threaten the social fabric of the republic and that Stoic ethics holds the promise of diagnosing and mitigating these tensions.

"Seneca on the Self: Why Now?" is perhaps the least successful piece in the collection. In exploring what lies behind the recent resurgence of scholarly interest in Seneca, Long makes the surprising assertion that "Seneca's value as a theorist of selfhood is not vitiated ... if we completely reject his Stoic commitment to the divinity of human rationality, for instance, or the moral indifference of all values except virtue and vice" (p. 363). To illustrate what he finds interesting about Seneca's theory, Long relies heavily on a distinction he draws between a person's "normative identity" and "occurrent subjectivity," that is, between what a person should aspire to be and what a person's particular mindset is right now. Long identifies a variety of rhetorical strategies that Seneca uses in his Letters to encourage the reader to reflect on the gap between his or her occurrent subjectivity and normative identity and to make progress towards closing that gap. The problem here is that for Seneca, the content of a person's normative identity will surely be nothing other than the perfected (and indeed divine) rationality that orthodox Stoicism attributes to the virtuous person. Without the edifice of Stoicism to support it, Seneca's rhetorical scaffolding (skillful as it is) would collapse.

But this is a minor complaint about a collection that is generally excellent. I conclude by again recommending this book to anyone who is interested in the thought of Hellenistic and Roman times. Those who are already familiar with Professor Long's work will find here a useful compendium; those who are not will discover why several generations of scholars of ancient philosophy are indebted to him.
Cambridge Companion to the Stoics
edited by Brad Inwood
Cambridge Companion at googlebooks
BMCR review
Excerpt from BMCR review:
The new Companion to the Stoics that Cambridge University Press presents us with is worthy of its series. Its editor, Brad Inwood, has succeeded in compiling a volume that fully achieves its aim. This, as stated in the introduction, written by Inwood himself, amounts to providing readers of various kinds with a resource on Stoicism, whether they approach it for the first time or after considerable experience. In other words, the book is meant to be both an accessible guide to and an authoritative account of (a) the historical trajectory of the Stoic school, (b) its philosophical system, and (c) the influence of Stoicism inside and outside philosophy. The intended readers of the volume are novices as well as specialists in any of the three subjects named. In the opinion of the present reviewer all of them will be served well. The aim of the book is reflected in its structure. The first two chapters describe the history of the school in the ancient world. The Hellenistic period from Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, to Athenodorus and Arius Didymus, court philosophers of Augustus, is covered by Sedley. The Roman Imperial period, in which well-known Stoics such as Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius were active, is treated by Gill. Both scholars draw together a wealth of material and thereby present an illuminating picture of the various phases Stoicism went through, its changing institutional aspects, its relations with other schools, and the interplay between its need for creativity and its will to orthodoxy over the centuries. This picture serves as a most welcome background for the discussions of many of the central themes of Stoic philosophy in chapters 3 to 10, but also for the subsequent explorations of Stoic influence on ancient medicine, grammar and astronomy in chapters 11 to 13 and on some medieval and early modern philosophers in chapters 14 and 15 . . . .

As for physics, there are four chapters. Natural philosophy, including cosmology, is dealt with by White in chapter 5. In his account however, two major items are deliberately passed over, the first of them being Stoic theology. Although strictly speaking this was part of physics, it is reserved for a separate discussion by Algra in chapter 6. The second item is the Stoic theory of fate and determinism, which is the subject of Frede's contribution in chapter 7. Finally, in chapter 8, Brunschwig explores an area of Stoic philosophy which he calls 'metaphysics', and which is not to be understood as some sort of 'metaphysica specialis', directed at primary entities such as the Stoic principles (ἀρχαί) -- which are discussed by White and Algra -- , but as a kind of 'metaphysica generalis', the purpose of which, according to Brunschwig, is 'to study any and every object from a certain point of view ('qua being', and also qua such and such a type of being', p. 209). As a matter of fact Brunschwig does two things. First, he inquires into the Stoic classification of all entities into somethings (τινά) -- which are subdivided into bodies (σώματα) and incorporeals (ἀσώματα) -- , quasi-somethings (ὡσανεὶ τινά), and not-somethings (οὐτινά). Second, he deals with the so-called Stoic 'categories', which he takes to provide a stratification of all bodies into four 'highest genera'. Both discussions are thoughtful, important and, in the opinion of the present reviewer, promising, even though they will not, of course, command universal assent. Particularly concerning the Stoic theory of λεκτά, which are standard examples of incorporeals, Brunschwig -- concurring with earlier work of Frede -- seems to open up new directions for research by interpreting them as a type of incorporeal but objective conditions for the interaction of bodies (p. 219). In any case, as Brunschwig himself makes clear, his explorations move away from the domain of physics proper and extend to the fields of logic and ethics. In this sense therefore they may certainly be called metaphysical.
Senecan Drama and Stoic Cosmology
by Thomas G. Rosenmeyer
This is a unique work both (a) because of it's focus not only on Seneca, but on his dramatic works in particular, as well as (b) because of it's attention to the concepts of pneuma, tonos, sumpatheia, and krasis which are all of great significance to modern Pagans who want to understand the ancient philosophical/theoretical underpinnings of "sympathetic magic".
Free online escholarship version of the entire book: Senecan Drama and Stoic Cosmology
Here is an excerpt from Chapter Four: Body, Tension and Sumpatheia:
I shall sing of the God supreme with the still Wisdom of nature, one with sky and land and sea, Steadying the bulk by means of a balanced compact. The universe is alive with reciprocal harmony And is driven by the motion of reason; one spirit Inhabits all its parts and animates the orb Throughout and shapes and ensouls its body.
[Manilius Astronomica 2.60–66]
These lines, from the pen of a poet who lived about a generation before Seneca, give creative expression to a body of thought about the cosmos that originated with the early Stoics, based on suggestions supplied by Aristotle and his immediate successors, and older traditions on which they drew. Aristotle distinguishes between soul and the inborn pneuma; Zeno collapses them and makes of his soul-pneuma the unifying stuff that guarantees the working (and the frequent misoperation) of the organism. Chrysippus extended the notion of the bodily pneuma to cover the whole world, with important consequences for the nature of the cosmos, of which man, the character in the cosmic drama, is a consenting or dissenting member. He defined heimarmene as a dunamis pneumatike (SVF 2.913), a pneumatic power, which means that the pneuma is both causal nexus and force. "Pneuma in a cosmic sense is a conscious, rational, material force, working like a craftsman on inert, formless matter and fashioning different substances by variations of its own tension." Chrysippus's pneuma was a refinement of the "craftsman fire" of Zeno and Cleanthes, "a cool fire, sun's breath, the solar wind," to fall back on the language of a modern poet-philosopher.

We are now broaching the heart of our study, the cosmological analysis for which everything discussed up to now has been preparatory, and which, I hope, will clarify important issues our earlier remarks have had to skirt. Significant aspects of Seneca's dramatic practice, including the language of the plays, the nature of the action, and the character of the agents, can be appreciated more fittingly once it is understood that Senecan drama is the beneficiary of a new cosmology, of a new way of looking at the world and its parts and the manner of the interaction of these parts. Occasional hints of the new perspective have already been given in the preceding chapters. It remains to explore more fully, and with explicit documentation, how the Stoic world picture scores in the dramatic practice of Seneca and of some of his successors.

The Stoic presumption is that, with few—according to most accounts, four—exceptions, all that exists is corporeal, or physico-biological. Hence ethics and theology are subjects rooted in the findings of the natural sciences. This was held by Chrysippus and by Marcus Aurelius. It is also the view of Seneca, as emerges clearly from his encomium of sapientia in Epistle 90.28ff. God is corporeal; so are justice, passion, reason, truth, virtue, vices, judgments, the soul. All of them are bodies, not in the sense of exhibiting specifically defined surfaces, but in the sense of sharing in the materiality of the whole. That materiality is, thanks to the pneuma, in large measure animate rather than inert. Events are corporeal, and so are their causes. "Chrysippus' affirmation of the corporeal nature of causes is a flat rejection of the incorporeal causes of Plato (the Ideas) and Aristotle (the unmoved mover)."
The Question of Eclecticism
edited by John M. Dillon and A.A. Long
Three papers in this book are of particular interest:
Cicero's philosophical affiliation by John Glucker
Because of the incalculable importance of Cicero's On the Nature of the Gods as a systematic presentation of Stoic Theology, it is essential to understand where Cicero, who was not a Stoic, is coming from.
Science and metaphysics: Platonism, Aristotelianism and Stoicism in Plutarch's On the Face in the Moon by Pierluigi Donin
This is a technical and difficult paper, but the worth the effort.
Discovering the imagination: Platonists and Stoics on phantasia by G. Watson
Free online escholarship version of the entire book: The Question of Eclecticism
Here is an excerpt from Discovering the imagination:
One of the topics on which the philosopho-theological tradition dwelt was anthropomorphism, a question which had been at the center of theological debate since Xenophanes. There was, however, a point of view other than that of Xenophanes or Plato, represented notoriously by the Epicureans,[13] but certainly not confined to them. Here Maximus is of interest. He wished to be known as a Platonikos philosophos but, like Dio before him, would have known and used other systems. His second speech concerns the question of setting up images to the gods. Maximus is a tolerant man. He concedes that if men were really good, they would need no reminders of the gods. But men are weak, and wise lawgivers have realized what has to be provided. In this situation it is reasonable that the gods should be presented in man's shape, although Maximus is aware that the Persians, Egyptians, Indians, and so on do not share that view. The true god, the father and demiourgos of all things, is unseen by our eyes, and we cannot grasp his essence. We wish to catch a glimpse of him, but since in our weakness we cannot, we fall back on various aids to his presence, and the things we find beautiful remind us of him. Therefore, Maximus concludes, "If the art of Phidias stirs up the Greeks to the memory of the gods, and the honor done to animals the Egyptians, I shall find no fault in this variety."

Maximus here makes an obvious reference to the famous passage in the Timaeus on the father and maker of all; and even much stricter Platonists than Maximus believed that God did reveal himself as an artist by the world he had made. The anti-anthropomorphic Plato and the Stoa agreed on this point: the Stoa drew gratefully on Plato in their long expositions of God's concern for the world he had made. God's making of the world was explained on the analogy of the human artist. An elaborate example of the process is provided by Philo in his De opificio mundi . Philo says (16) that when God wished to create this visible world of ours, he first formed the intelligible world (noetos kosmos ) so that from this incorporeal model he might bring into being the corporeal world. It is wrong, however, to suppose that the intelligible world, formed from ideas, is in any place (en topoi tini ; cf. Timaeus 52B). A parallel from our own experience will explain how it has been organized. When it has been decided to found a city, an architect first designs in his own mind all the parts of the city to be. Then, when he has engraved in his own soul, as it were in wax, the outlines of each part, he carries about within himself an intelligible city (noete polis ). He keeps the models alive in his memory and engraves ever more deeply on his mind the outlines. Then, like a good craftsman (demiourgos ), he starts to build a city of stone and wood, his eyes fixed on his model (paradeigma ), shaping the corporeal realities to each of the incorporeal ideas. In somewhat the same way we must picture God when thinking of founding the great city, the megalopolis. He first conceived the outlines (tupoi ); from these he set together the intelligible world and, using this as a model, he completed the sensible world.