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Author Seal, Carey Blackshear, 1981- author.

Title Philosophy and community in Seneca's prose / Carey Seal
Published New York, NY : Oxford University Press, [2021]


Description 1 online resource
Contents Intro -- Title Page -- Copyright Page -- Dedication -- Contents -- Abbreviations -- Note on Texts -- 1. Introduction -- 2. Solitude and Independence -- 3. Schools -- 4. Slavery -- 5. Res Publica -- 6. Conclusion -- Acknowledgments -- Bibliography -- Index
Summary "Today philosophy's promises to enhance the lives of those who study it are couched, like justifications for the humanistic disciplines more generally, in circumspect terms. In the ancient world, however, philosophy commonly claimed for itself the status of an exclusive guide to happiness. Through philosophy's characteristic practices of argument and rational inquiry, its advocates believed, human beings could learn what was really good for themselves and free themselves from illusion. In the process, they would necessarily come to lead happier lives. This link between learning and action meant that philosophy was often regarded as an entire way of life, in which intellectual activity and practice were closely associated and mutually interdependent. Nowhere else in ancient literature is this ideal given such full and nuanced exposition as in the prose writings of Seneca, in which we can see a philosopher and literary artist of the first rank exploring in detail the dilemmas posed by the confrontation of the idea of the philosophical life with the historical and cultural specificity of the first-century CE Rome in which he wrote. His vast prose oeuvre defends, elaborates, and aims to make appealing this ideal of a life guided by disciplined thought. He is unequivocal about the necessary centrality of philosophy to any attempt at living a good life: philosophy, he writes, "shapes and forges the mind, it puts life in order, it directs actions, it points out what is to be done and what is not to be done, it sits at the helm and steers a course through the hazards of the waves" (animum format et fabricat, vitam disponit, actiones regit, agenda et omittenda demonstrat, sedet ad gubernaculum et per ancipitia fluctuantium derigit cursum, Ep. 16.3). A successful life, for Seneca as for many other ancient philosophers, is governed by, indeed constituted by, the practice of philosophy. His rich and varied corpus, I argue, presents us with a unique opportunity to learn how one reflective and well-informed ancient philosopher reconciled this ideal of philosophical living, and all the aspirations to independence and universality that come with it, to the fact that he and his readers were living in a sociopolitical setting with its own set of norms and customs. These customs, and the claims of community more generally, stand in potential contradiction with the practical guidance philosophy aims to supply. For Seneca, as we will see, this tension was a prodigiously fruitful one. Recent work has rehabilitated Seneca's standing as a major philosopher"-- Provided by publisher
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index
Notes Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page (Oxford Scholarship Online, viewed on August 13, 2021)
Subject Seneca, Lucius Annaeus, approximately 4 B.C.-65 A.D. -- Criticism and interpretation
SUBJECT Seneca, Lucius Annaeus, approximately 4 B.C.-65 A.D. fast
Subject Philosophy in literature.
Communities in literature.
Community life in literature.
Community life in literature
Communities in literature
Philosophy in literature
Genre/Form Criticism, interpretation, etc.
Form Electronic book
LC no. 2020050080
ISBN 0190493224