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Voices of ConscienceRoyal Confessors and Political Counsel in Seventeenth-Century Spain and France$
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Nicole Reinhardt

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198703686

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198703686.001.0001

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Being Seneca—Stoic Lessons

Being Seneca—Stoic Lessons

(p.267) 12 Being Seneca—Stoic Lessons
Voices of Conscience

Nicole Reinhardt

Oxford University Press

Seneca is the second model Caussin explored as an example to guide royal confessors in their role as royal counsellors. In doing so, he drew out the parallels between the fate of the Stoic philosopher and that of the prophets, engaging deeply and critically with the contemporary vogue of neo-Stoicism. The reflections on Seneca are indebted to the Jesuit and Stoic heritage of spiritual exercises aimed at developing moral fortitude and a sense of self in situations of adversity. Caussin’s approach not only follows the widespread positive appreciation of Seneca’s philosophy as proto-Christian, it is original in that he appreciates Seneca’s problematic life and character, too. Importantly, Caussin used his own experience to deliver a nuanced insight into the reasons for Seneca’s failings. Seneca’s ambiguous exemplarity serves to highlight the shortcomings of Stoic philosophy and to emphasize the foundational importance of Christian ethos for political action and to combat tyranny.

Keywords:   Nicolas Caussin, Stoicism, spiritual exercise, neo-Stoicism, tyranny, Seneca

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