Download A New Stoicism fb2

by Lawrence C. Becker
Download A New Stoicism fb2
Philosophy
  • Author:
    Lawrence C. Becker
  • ISBN:
    0691016607
  • ISBN13:
    978-0691016603
  • Genre:
  • Publisher:
    Princeton University Press (December 28, 1997)
  • Pages:
    232 pages
  • Subcategory:
    Philosophy
  • Language:
  • FB2 format
    1976 kb
  • ePUB format
    1638 kb
  • DJVU format
    1688 kb
  • Rating:
    4.9
  • Votes:
    396
  • Formats:
    doc txt lit mbr


FREE shipping on qualifying offers. What would stoic ethics be like today if stoicism had survived as a systematic approach to ethical theory.

FREE shipping on qualifying offers.

This is a rare, great book, one of the few works in ethics in who knows how long that actually takes ethics in the right direction. Though he does go off track in a few places, and though his arguments can be a little weak sometimes (ie, for the importance of reciprocity and benevolence),.

Becker's New Stoicism may not be exactly compatible with traditionalist views, such as his casting off of the divine providential logos, but ultimately, I think it does stay (mostly) true to the original teachings and provides a strong, rigorous defense. It is my new Enchiridion.

Professor Lawrence C. Becker is one of the academic titans that we are . Lawrence, thank you for taking the time! You’re the author of A New Stoicism and I was wondering if you could tell us a bit more about the book. In particular, what do you mean by ‘new’?

Professor Lawrence C. Becker is one of the academic titans that we are incredibly honored to have the chance to interview. quotes and much more. In particular, what do you mean by ‘new’?

For the Indiana lawyer and judge, see Lawrence Becker. Lawrence C. Becker (1939–November 22, 2018) was an American philosopher working mainly in the areas of ethics and social, political, and legal philosophy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998. Paperback issued by Princeton University Press, 1999-07-01.

A New Stoicism proposes an answer to that question, offered from within the stoic tradition but without the metaphysical and psychological assumptions that modern philosophy and science have abandoned. Lawrence Becker argues that a secular version of the stoic ethical project, based on contemporary cosmology and developmental psychology, provides the basis for a sophisticated form of ethical naturalism, in which virtually all the hard doctrines of the ancient Stoics can be clearly restated and defended.

A New Stoicism - Lawrence C. Becker. A New Stoicism argues that Stoic virtue ethics could have remained largely the same. Princeton university press princeton and oxford. Requests for permission to reproduce material from this work should be sent to Permissions, Princeton University Press. It could still be thoroughly naturalistic and committed to scientifically established beliefs in what we call the natural sciences, the social sciences, medicine, and psychology.

What would stoic ethics be like today if stoicism had survived as a systematic approach to ethical theory, if it had coped successfully with the challenges of modern philosophy and experimental science? A New Stoicism proposes an answer to that question, offered from within the stoic tradition but without the metaphysical and psychological assumptions that modern philosophy and science have abandoned.

The question addressed by this book is what, if anything, stoic ethics would be like today if stoicism had had a continuous history to the present day as a plausible and coherent set of philosophical commitments and methods

The question addressed by this book is what, if anything, stoic ethics would be like today if stoicism had had a continuous history to the present day as a plausible and coherent set of philosophical commitments and methods. The book answers that question by arguing that most of the ancient doctrines of Stoic ethics remain defensible today, at least when ancient Stoicism's cosmological commitments are replaced by modern scientific ones.

What would stoic ethics be like today if stoicism had survived as a systematic approach to ethical theory, if it had coped successfully with the challenges of modern philosophy and experimental science? A New Stoicism proposes an answer to that question, offered from within the stoic tradition but without the metaphysical and psychological assumptions that modern philosophy and science have abandoned. Lawrence Becker argues that a secular version of the stoic ethical project, based on contemporary cosmology and developmental psychology, provides the basis for a sophisticated form of ethical naturalism, in which virtually all the hard doctrines of the ancient Stoics can be clearly restated and defended.

Becker argues, in keeping with the ancients, that virtue is one thing, not many; that it, and not happiness, is the proper end of all activity; that it alone is good, all other things being merely rank-ordered relative to each other for the sake of the good; and that virtue is sufficient for happiness. Moreover, he rejects the popular caricature of the stoic as a grave figure, emotionally detached and capable mainly of endurance, resignation, and coping with pain. To the contrary, he holds that while stoic sages are able to endure the extremes of human suffering, they do not have to sacrifice joy to have that ability, and he seeks to turn our attention from the familiar, therapeutic part of stoic moral training to a reconsideration of its theoretical foundations.


Jogrnd
Becker, a professor of philosophy at the College of William and Mary, seeks to sever quaint naturalist assumptions from the ethical propositions at the heart of the stoic philosophy. The ancient stoics were persuaded that each person should live in contentment whatever their circumstances because in so doing each contributes to nature's unknowable purpose. In repudiating the grounding of stoic ethics on this metaphysical assumption that nowadays is embarrassed by the non-teleogical findings of modern science, Becker asks how else the elements of its ethical propositions may be legitimated. By way of partial answer, he holds that it is in this same modern science that an endorsement for the exercise of virtue is to be found. He finds persuasive support for stoic ethics in contemporary psychological and neurophysiologic perspectives. Becker, who takes the position that the often thin thread of stoic tradition has coursed continuously through the ages since Zeno of Citium, and who counts himself an adherent, states the credo of stoic ethics has remained unchanged to the present despite the rejection of its naturalist roots: [T]he final end of all rational activity is virtue, not happiness; that virtue does not admit of degrees, and among people who fall short of it, none is any more virtuous than another; that sages are happy just because they are virtuous, and can be happy even on the rack; that they must be able to say of everything other than their virtue (friends, loves, emotions, reputation, wealth, pleasant mental states, suffering,disease, death, and so on) that it is nothing to them. (p. 8) Strong stuff. But perhaps we should give it mind, although we already are preparing a major objection to this all-or-nothing regard for virtue. As psychoanalysts, we care deeply about ethics but strain beneath Freud's general disapprobation for philosophers. Karen Horney's psychoanalytic vision, by contrast, is largely configured around ethical precepts. Her "Morality of Evolution" (Horney, 1950, p. 13-16) while perfectly useable gives her work a treackily, inspirational tone. Yet there is nothing in either Freud's or Horney's corpus at odds with the stoic project. The purpose of ethics is normative in its endeavor to assert how people should be and act--yet it must avoid the excesses through which legitimate ethical "should's" acquire the dimensions of compulsivity, indiscriminateness, arbitrariness and rigidity that constitute the "tyranny of should's" of which Horney speaks. In this same connection, Becker disputes Chrysippus's assertions that the result of virtuous living is the harmonization of desire and reason and the elimination of conflict. Instead, following Posidonius, he asserts that healthy agency is to be found in the courageous willingness and capacity to endure conflict, discover its origins, appreciate its consequences, and follow where such analysis will lead--a position entirely agreeable with psychoanalysis. Stoicism, as Becker presents it, is not justification for masochistic endurance of suffering--which is to be avoided determinedly when doing so is consistent with virtue. Nor is stoicism to provide justification for passive acceptance of misery when futility of action remains unproved. Nor, again, is stoicism a bleak asceticism or intellectual detachment. There are a variety of "nonagency" pleasures or goods that are largely irrelevant to the exercise of virtuosity-no reason to avoid a good time and enjoy what money can buy. Additionally, stoicism is entirely congenial with hot-bloodedness and passionate engagement: "[b]eing overcome by emotion is no more problematic for a stoic than being overcome by sleep" (p. 145). Becker points out that the perfection of agency through the exercise of virtue leads neither to a contemplative or philosophical life nor to a predictable uniformity. The stoicism that Becker serves up is congenial to the spirit of psychoanalysis with its privileging of personal idiom and appreciation for unique aspects of personal agency. Furthermore, in its high regard for grounding gratification in constructive behavior and sublimation of primitive impulses, though differently stated, stoicism is entirely in line with psychoanalytic premises. Psychoanalytic theory does not frame its goals through the discourse of stoic ethics, but it could and not suffer a whit. Perfection of agency by which Becker means the progressive integration of received and constructed elements available to the person is comparable to the stated Horneyan purpose of therapy. The struggle that we may have with Becker's thesis to which I alluded above, and the one I suspect he shares with us, is the proposition that anything less than ideal agency--the absolute practice of virtuousity--is as good as nothing at all. Nevertheless, and in this we endorse Becker's position, "[t]he traits we construct by exercising [healthy agency], under a very wide range of circumstances, are enough to keep us persistently attracted to its improvement, both in ourselves and others." (p. 120) Unless we accept this less-than-hard-as-nails interpretation of the stoic system, we risk falling prey to the idealization of virtuosity and perfect agency with the pathological defensive structures entailed by such idealization. Although we can value virtue and recognize how much its exercise enhances personal agency and strengthens the capacity to successfully encounter all manner of adversity, we also know from our psychoanalytic experience in the consulting room just how dreadful in its consequences the self-righteous, uncritical affirmation of virtue can be. We know too well how what is wonderful and good goes by the same name as that which is destructive and evil. What is called virtue is not exempted. Still, we do not reject Becker's neo-stoicism. On the contrary, we embrace his formulation and gratefully acknowledge his renascent interpretation of an ancient tradition. Many of us as practicing psychoanalysts have been stoics and promote in our patients a vision of stoicism, unwittingly laying a psychical foundwork for them of an ethical vision the name for which we had no idea-rather like Moliere's M. Jourdain who realized that it was prose he had been speaking all along.
Early Waffle
This is not an easy book to master, but I think it is the most serious and comprehensive attempt to date to "update" ancient Stoicism into a viable philosophy for modern living. Becker's language may at time be a bit hard to follow, and there are sections where he takes some philosophical background for granted. And one needs to get over the possibly off putting "we" that he uses when he talks about Stoics. All of this, however, is well worth it, as the book pays off with a cogent articulation of Stoicism as a practical philosophy that is grounded on both empirical knowledge and sound reasoning. The lengthy "commentary" sections that follow most chapters make a direct link between Becker's brand of modern Stoicism and the ancient sources. You may agree, disagree, or buy only part of his arguments, but there is no engaging modern Stoicism without this book. If interested, please check a series of essays I wrote about A New Stoicism at my blog, How To Be A Stoic.
Doukasa
I can wholeheartedly recommend this book for an audience of academic philosophers, or serious students of philosophy, who have an interest in stoicism and background in formal logic. For such an audience, this book probably deserves 5 stars for its ambitious objective of divesting stoicism of it metaphysical and psychological roots and assumptions and replacing them with a more systematic/logical foundation buttressed with recent scientific discoveries.

But I can't extend that recommendation to more casual readers with an interest in stoicism.

Even though I am quite comfortable, if a bit rusty, with the language of academic philosophy and formal logic (in college I spent months studying Russell & Whitehead's "Principia Mathematica") reading this book still required significant effort. Here is a sample of the language used in the section titled "A Posteriori Normative Propositions": "The axioms and rules of inference in our normative logic represent all norms as connected to the endeavors of some agents, and exclude a priori from moral deliberation only those normative propositions constructed (in part or whole) from errors of fact." If you have trouble understanding the section tittle or parsing such a sentence, this might not be the book for you.

On the other hand, if you are a fan (as I used to be) of applying formal logic along with a set of axioms (a-la Russell & Whitehead) to the field of Stoic ethics--and willing/able to invest the time and effort required to follow the arguments--I can't think of a better book. Appendix, titled "A Calculus for Normative Logic" does just that, with enough rigor and formulae to satisfy and challenge any logician.

I believe that the long-lasting and broad appeal of stoicism is due in great part to the beauty of the language of its surviving writings. The language of Epictetus/Arrian's discourses, Marcus Aurelius' meditations and Seneca's letters is the antithesis of the language of academic philosophy; and what those books lack in formalism they make up with compelling language, examples and images. Any reader enamored with the aforementioned writings will find him/herself as in a foreign land where a different and difficult language is spoken. I was not expecting this book to be as easy a read as Seneca's letters, but I thought that my background would make the journey of reading it much easier than it actually was ... let's say something along the lines of Pierre Hadot's books.

Having said that, one might argue that there are already plenty of books on stoicism for the general public, and few that approach it from such an academic and formal angle. From that perspective, this is--without question--a valuable and important contribution to the evolution of stoicism. It combines an obvious passion for the philosophy with a very rigorous treatment, and it's a compelling defense of the value and applicability of stoic teachings even absent the metaphysical foundations on which they were originally based. I commend, congratulate and thank Lawrence Becker for undertaking such a task, and I hope that the book finds its way into the right hands and minds.