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Reply #50: I would lay little hope on anything gov at about this time [View All]

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nolabels Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-27-04 02:13 AM
Response to Reply #48
50. I would lay little hope on anything gov at about this time
other than an early unpaid retirement. Looks like it will be good time to catch up on that reading :-)


If you strip Stoicism of its paradoxes and its wilful misuse of
language, what is left is simply the moral philosophy of Socrates,
Plato and Aristotle, dashed with the physics of Heraclitus. Stoicism
was not so much a new doctrine as the form under which the old Greek
philosophy finally presented itself to the world at large. It owed
its popularity in some measure to its extravagance. A great deal
might be said about Stoicism as a religion and about the part it
played in the formation of Christianity but these subjects were
excluded by the plan of this volume which was to present a sketch of
the Stoic doctrine based on the original authorities.

_Pemb. Coll. Oxford_




Among the Greeks and Romans of the classical age philosophy occupied
the place taken by religion among ourselves. Their appeal was to
reason not to revelation. To what, asks Cicero in his Offices, are we
to look for training in virtue, if not to philosophy? Now, if truth
is believed to rest upon authority it is natural that it should be
impressed upon the mind from the earliest age, since the essential
thing is that it should be believed, but a truth which makes its
appeal to reason must be content to wait till reason is developed. We
are born into the Eastern, Western or Anglican communion or some
other denomination, but it was of his own free choice that the
serious minded young Greek or Roman embraced the tenets of one of the
great sects which divided the world of philosophy. The motive which
led him to do so in the first instance may have been merely the
influence of a friend or a discourse from some eloquent speaker, but
the choice once made was his own choice, and he adhered to it as
such. Conversions from one sect to another were of quite rare
occurrence. A certain Dionysius of Heraclea, who went over from the
Stoics to the Cyrenaics, was ever afterward known as "the deserter."
It was as difficult to be independent in philosophy as it is with us
to be independent in politics. When a young man joined a school, he
committed himself to all its opinions, not only as to the end of
life, which was the main point of division, but as to all questions
on all subjects. The Stoic did not differ merely in his ethics from
the Epicurean; he differed also in his theology and his physics and
his metaphysics. Aristotle, as Shakespeare knew, thought young men
"unfit to hear moral philosophy". And yet it was a question--or
rather the question--of moral philosophy, the answer to which decided
the young man's opinions on all other points. The language which
Cicero sometimes uses about the seriousness of the choice made in
early life and how a young man gets entrammelled by a school before
he is really able to judge, reminds us of what we hear said nowadays
about the danger of a young man's taking orders before his opinions
are formed. To this it was replied that a young man only exercised
the right of private judgment in selecting the authority whom he
should follow, and, having once done that, trusted to him for all the
rest. With the analogue of this contention also we are familiar in
modern times. Cicero allows that there would be something in it, if
the selection of the true philosopher did not above all things
require the philosophic mind. But in those days it was probably the
case, as it is now, that, if a man did not form speculative opinions
in youth, the pressure of affairs would not leave him leisure to do
so later.
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