Reading Seneca: Stoic Philosophy at Rome

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Brad Inwood presents a selection of his most influential essays on the philosophy of Seneca, the Roman Stoic thinker, statesman, and tragedian of the first century AD. Including two brand-new pieces, and a helpful introduction to orient the reader, this volume will be an essential guide for anyone seeking to understand Seneca's fertile, wide-ranging thought and its impact on subsequent generations.

In each of these essays Seneca is considered as a philosopher, but with as much account as possible taken of his life, his education, his intellectual and literary background, his career, and his self-presentation as an author. Seneca emerges as a discerning and well-read Stoic, with a strong inclination to think for himself in the context of an intellectual climate teeming with influences from other schools. Seneca's intellectual engagement with Platonism, Aristotelianism, and even with Epicureanism involved a wide range of substantial philosophical interests and concerns. His philosophy was indeed shaped by the fact that he was a Roman, but he was a true philosopher shaped by his culture rather than a Roman writer trying his hand at philosophical themes. The highly rhetorical character of his writing must be accounted for when reading his works, and when one does so the underlying philosophical themes stand out more clearly. While it is hard to generalize about an overall intellectual agenda or systematic philosophical method, key themes and strategies are evident. Inwood shows how Seneca's philosophical ingenium worked itself out in a fundamentally particularistic way as he pursued those aspects of Stoicism that engaged him most forcefully over his career.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"For classical scholars who wish to take an integrative approach to him, Reading Seneca provides invaluable guidance to an essential part of the whiole. For those who remain skeptical of Seneca's worth as a philosopher, Inwood's sober assessments of Seneca's achivements, his shortcomings and the inspiration they have provided to later thinkers should provide powerful inducement to take seriously as a philosopher this 'literary genius—or a man who thought himself one."—Amanda Wilcox, Reviews in Metaphysics
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199250905
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/11/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Brad Inwood is Canada Research Chair in Ancient Philosophy and Professor of Classics and Philosophy at the University of Toronto

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Table of Contents

1. Seneca in his Philosophical Milieu
2. Seneca and Psychological Dualism
3. Politics and Paradox in Seneca's De Beneficiis
4. Rules and Reasoning in Stoic Ethics
5. The Will in Seneca
6. God and Human Knowledge in Seneca's Natural Questions
7. Moral Judgement in Seneca
8. Natural Law in Seneca
9. Reason, Rationalization, and Happiness in Seneca
10. Getting to Goodness
11. Seneca on Freedom and Autonomy
12. Seneca on Self Assertion

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