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Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics Volume 8$
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Mark C. Timmons

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198828310

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198828310.001.0001

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Stoic Silencing of Insults

Stoic Silencing of Insults

How to Sabotage Wrongful Speech

(p.274) 13 Stoic Silencing of Insults
Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics Volume 8

Roy Sorensen

Oxford University Press

“A gentleman will not insult me, and no man not a gentleman can insult me.” This enthymeme, widely attributed to Frederick Douglass, suggests a strengthening of the Stoic claim that no insult can disturb the tranquility of the sage. Instead of shielding the Stoic, virtue disarms the assailant attempting the insult. Un-insultability comports better with the Stoic’s concern for the moral welfare of others—even those who mean you harm. The feminist analysis of illocutionary silencing suggests a plausible mechanism for this stronger interpretation. Accordingly, Stoic counsel on insults is reinterpreted in light of J. L. Austin’s theory of speech acts.

Keywords:   insult, silencing, Stoicism, Frederick Douglass, J. L. Austin, illocutionary disablement

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