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Stoicism and Emotion

by Margaret R Graver University of Chicago Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 304 pages
AU$64.00 NZ$66.96
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On the surface, stoicism and emotion seem like contradictory terms. Yet the Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome were deeply interested in the emotions, which they understood as complex judgments about what we regard as valuable in our surroundings.

Stoicism and Emotion shows that they did not simply advocate an across-the-board suppression of feeling, as stoicism implies in today’s English, but instead conducted a searching examination of these powerful psychological responses, seeking to understand what attitude toward them expresses the deepest respect for human potential.

In this elegant and clearly written work, Margaret Graver gives a compelling new interpretation of the Stoic position. Drawing on a vast range of ancient sources, she argues that the chief demand of Stoic ethics is not that we should suppress or deny our feelings, but that we should perfect the rational mind at the core of every human being.

Like all our judgments, the Stoics believed, our affective responses can be either true or false and right or wrong, and we must assume responsibility for them. Without glossing over the difficulties, Graver also shows how the Stoics dealt with those questions that seem to present problems for their theory: the physiological basis of affective responses, the phenomenon of being carried away by one’s emotions, the occurrence of involuntary feelings and the disordered behaviors of mental illness. Ultimately revealing the deeper motivations of Stoic philosophy, Stoicism and Emotion uncovers the sources of its broad appeal in the ancient world and illuminates its surprising relevance to our own.

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Emotion and Norms for Emotion 1 A Science of the Mind The Psychic Material The Central Directive FacultyThought, Belief, and ActionAffective Events 2 The Pathetic Syllogism Emotions and Ascriptions of ValueAppropriatenessEvaluations and Their ObjectsThe Stoic Ethical StanceEupathic ResponsesClassification by GenusClassification by SpeciesSome Remaining Questions 3 Vigor and Responsibility RollabilityOverriding ImpulsesMedea and OdysseusPlato and PlatonistsThe Posidonian ObjectionsFreedom 4 Feelings without Assent Beginnings and “Bitings” at AthensThe Senecan Account“A Requirement of the Human Condition”Alexandrian PropatheiaiA Stoic Essential5 Brutishness and Insanity Orestes and the PhantastikonMelancholic Loss of VirtueFluttery IgnoranceEmotions as CausesBrutishnessSeneca’s Three Movements 6 Traits of Character Scalar Conditions of MindFondnesses and AversionsProclivitiesHabitudes of the Wise 7 The Development of Character Empiricism and CorruptionThe Twofold CauseCicero’s Hall of MirrorsThe Establishment of TraitsAutonomy and Luck 8 City of Friends and Lovers Concern for OthersProper Friendship and the Wise CommunityFriendship and Self-SufficiencyOptimistic LoveOrdinary Affections 9 The Tears of Alcibiades Wisdom and RemorseStrategies for ConsolationThe Status of Premise 2Progressor-Pain and Moral ShameApatheia Revisited Appendix: The Status of Confidence in Stoic Classifications List of AbbreviationsNotes Bibliography Index Locorum Index

''A lucidly written... compellingly argued, and carefully researched investigation which should remain an indispensable resource for study of the Stoics on emotions for years to come.'' - Bryn Mawr Classical Review''
Margaret R. Graver is professor of classics at Dartmouth College.