Philosophic Pride

Philosophic Pride: Stoicism and Political Thought from Lipsius to Rousseau

Christopher Brooke
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Philosophic Pride
    Book Description:

    Philosophic Prideis the first full-scale look at the essential place of Stoicism in the foundations of modern political thought. Spanning the period from Justus Lipsius'sPoliticsin 1589 to Jean-Jacques Rousseau'sEmilein 1762, and concentrating on arguments originating from England, France, and the Netherlands, the book considers how political writers of the period engaged with the ideas of the Roman and Greek Stoics that they found in works by Cicero, Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. Christopher Brooke examines key texts in their historical context, paying special attention to the history of classical scholarship and the historiography of philosophy.

    Brooke delves into the persisting tension between Stoicism and the tradition of Augustinian anti-Stoic criticism, which held Stoicism to be a philosophy for the proud who denied their fallen condition. Concentrating on arguments in moral psychology surrounding the foundations of human sociability and self-love,Philosophic Pridedetails how the engagement with Roman Stoicism shaped early modern political philosophy and offers significant new interpretations of Lipsius and Rousseau together with fresh perspectives on the political thought of Hugo Grotius and Thomas Hobbes.

    Philosophic Prideshows how the legacy of the Stoics played a vital role in European intellectual life in the early modern era.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4241-4
    Subjects: Philosophy, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xxiv)
  4. Prologue Augustine of Hippo
    (pp. 1-11)

    It is not too much to say that the fourteenth book of Augustine’s massiveThe City of God against the Pagansis the pivot on which the rest of the work turns, for it contains the analysis of Adam and Eve’s life in the Garden of Eden and their subsequent Fall.¹ This is an episode central not only to his theological project, in that Augustine single-handedly created the doctrine of original sin that dominated the thinking of the Church for so long, but also to his political theory, because it provides the setting for the central categories of the work’s...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Justus Lipsius and the Post-Machiavellian Prince
    (pp. 12-36)

    In his fine 1991 study of Neostoic ideology and the painting of Peter Paul Rubens, the classicist Mark Morford wrote that Justus Lipsius ‘is now little known except to students of Seneca and Tacitus and to intellectual historians of the northern Renaissance’.¹ Given the growing number of studies devoted to Lipsius and his various legacies since Morford’s book appeared, we might want to add students of early modern political thought and some scholars of literature to his list. Outside these particular corners of the academy, however, levels of Lipsius consciousness remain fairly low. He returned to the heart of European...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Grotius, Stoicism, and Oikeiosis
    (pp. 37-58)

    There has been considerable disagreement over the interpretation of Grotius over the past thirty years, especially concerning the foundations of his system of natural law, revolving in particular around the arguments that have been put forward by Richard Tuck in a series of articles and books over the course of his career.¹ Tuck has emphasised the role of self-interest in anchoring Grotius’s system, especially when selfinterest is understood specifically as the desire for self-preservation, conceding only a minimal role to any kind of principle of sociability. Grotius argued like this, Tuck suggests, to meet the challenge of contemporary scepticism by...

  7. CHAPTER THREE From Lipsius to Hobbes
    (pp. 59-75)

    The Stoic virtue of constancy was celebrated above all by Seneca in his essayDe constantia sapientis(On the constancy of the sage). In Jacqueline Lagrée’s words, Senecan constancy ‘exhibits the specific quality of the wisdom that is the coherent life lived in accordance with nature and reason’ and is ‘the virtue that responds to the onslaughts of fortune’, representing ‘the stability of the sage’s soul when faced with the absolute exteriority of fortune, which signifies the changeability of events outside us’.¹ It is not difficult to imagine why constancy might have been a virtue to command attention amid the...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR The French Augustinians
    (pp. 76-100)

    The influence of the Stoic revival of the sixteenth century continued to be felt in a variety of spheres in seventeenth-century France. In addition to the dissemination and translation of Lipsius’s works, the various works of Guillaume du Vair gave shape to a distinctively French version of contemporary Neostoicism. HisTraité de la constance, which drew inspiration from Lipsius’s work of the same name, purported to be the report of a conversation that had taken place during the Siege of Paris in 1590.¹ LikeDe constantia, this, too, was a very popular work, going through fifteen editions before 1641.² Du...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE From Hobbes to Shaftesbury
    (pp. 101-126)

    The Augustinian Catholic critics of Stoicism in seventeenth-century France tended to view it as a philosophy organised around the attribution of excessive power to the free human will. In Protestant Europe, by contrast, Stoicism was much more likely to be criticised as a philosophy of determinism, or as one that denied the freedom of the will. The Augustinians had attacked Stoicism as a philosophy of self-love that dissolved the bonds of society. But for others, Stoicism taught the natural sociability of humankind, and its texts could be exploited in the battle against new theories that seemed to deny this, such...

  10. CHAPTER SIX How the Stoics Became Atheists
    (pp. 127-148)

    There is no article on ‘Stoicism’ or ‘The Stoics’ in Pierre Bayle’s greatDictionaryof 1697; on the other hand, there are no entries for Plato or Descartes either, in Bayle’s notoriously idiosyncratic selection of articles.¹ In some places where we might expect to find discussions of Stoicism, furthermore, we find none: in the article ‘Lipsius’, for example, the only opinion about the Hellenistic philosophers that is reported is Conradus Schlusselburgius’s, that Lipsius had been an Epicurean.² Yet Stoicism is by no means absent from theDictionary. The article on Chrysippus has Bayle’s major critical discussion of Stoic philosophy, and...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN From Fénelon to Hume
    (pp. 149-180)

    Recent scholarship on the Enlightenment has been interested in the idea that the late seventeenth century witnessed a kind of confluence of the traditions of Augustinian criticism and the neo-Epicureanism deriving from Pierre Gassendi. Jean Lafond first developed the theme, and it has been taken up by both John Robertson in his study of intellectual life in Naples and Scotland and Pierre Force in his book on the idea of self-interest before Adam Smith.¹ Augustinian and Epicurean perspectives had hitherto stood sharply opposed to one another.The City of Godoffered an overarching account of God’s providence at work in...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    (pp. 181-202)

    Adam Smith offered his own narrative of the history of modern philosophy in his anonymous ‘Letter to the Authors of theEdinburgh Review’, which was published in 1756. With reference to ‘natural philosophy’ as well as ‘morals, metaphysics, and part of the abstract sciences’, he wrote that until recently, and with the exception of Descartes, ‘Whatever attempts have been made in modern times towards improvement in this contentious and unprosperous philosophy, beyond what the antients have left us, have been made in England’.¹ He cited in evidence the names of Hobbes, Locke, Mandeville, Shaftesbury, Butler, Clarke, and Hutcheson, all of...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 203-208)

    In an essay published to mark the thirtieth anniversary of Karl Marx’s death in 1913, Vladimir Ilych Lenin wrote of the ‘three sources and component parts of Marxism’. ‘The Marxist doctrine is omnipotent because it is true’, he asserted; it was, furthermore, ‘the legitimate successor to the best that man produced in the nineteenth century, as represented by German philosophy, English political economy and French socialism’.¹ The account that Lenin went on to elaborate is a little more complicated than this summary might suggest: eighteenth-century French materialism plays a significant role, for example, in the story that he tells about...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 209-252)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 253-272)
  16. Index
    (pp. 273-280)