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From Epicurus to EpictetusStudies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy$
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A. A. Long

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199279128

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199279128.001.0001

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Hellenistic Ethics as the Art of Life

Hellenistic Ethics as the Art of Life

(p.23) 2 Hellenistic Ethics as the Art of Life
From Epicurus to Epictetus

A. A. Long (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the idea of philosophy as the art of life, studying the foundations and implications of this idea, with a view to asking whether some version of it can still be useful to ethics. The embryo of this idea can be traced back to Socrates and the sophists, but its full and explicit development only began with the founding fathers of Stoicism in the third century bc. The idea is also implicit in Epicureanism; and it became widespread in later antiquity when it was contested by Sceptics. The discussion will incorporate the Epicureans as well as the Stoics, because both schools — in spite of their obvious divergences and rivalry — share many similarities in their basic assumptions and in what they promise their adherents. That common ground provides an understanding of the ancient appeal of both systems, while their divergences show that an art of life was taken to involve a totally consistent self-orientation, mediated by one's choice of system.

Keywords:   Hellenistic philosophy, Stoics, Stoicism, Sceptics

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