Authority and Agency in Stoicism G. Reydams-Schils

In Europe, philosophy, society on November 11, 2012 at 20:15

From: Authority and Agency in Stoicism G. Reydams-Schils, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies,

Seneca mentions a famous statement of Panaetius, who, when he was asked by a young man whether a sage would fall in love, responded: “As to the wise man, we shall see. What concerns you and me, who are still a great distance from the wise man, is to ensure that we do not fall into a state of affairs which is disturbed, powerless, subservient to another and worthless to oneself.”1 Seneca may have had good philosophical reasons for being attracted to this modest selfrepresentation of a Stoic teacher, as a co-learner with others, and one who in his own right is still removed from the ideal he professes. In other words, it may not be a coincidence that precisely Seneca recorded this anecdote.

Why would this kind of humility claim, in which the speaker deliberately puts himself on the same level as the interlocutor, be anything more than a common rhetorical trope and pedagogical device, at best (and false humility, at worst)?3 Later Stoic accounts of the first two centuries A.D. provide a
particularly illuminating answer to this question by consistently establishing a connection between a certain view of teaching authority and individual agency.

Read the essay

Reposted with permission from: Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies


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