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Stoic and Epicurean- by Robert Drew Hicks - PDF ebook

Stoic and Epicurean

Stoic and Epicurean


 Excerpt from the introduction:

The philosophical systems of Zeno and Epicurus may profitably be studied together. For, in spite of obvious differences, over which their adherents for centuries waged internecine warfare, it is easy to discern the fundamental similarity between them.  Both schools sought by devious paths one and the same goal. 

Both exalted practice above theory, and conceded to sense and experience their full right.  Both, in short, were crude forms of realism, which for the time (and not for that time alone) had come into its inheritance and held full sway over the minds of men. The temper of the age favoured such a  reaction from extreme intellectualism.


 The success of the new schools, if not immediate, was assured from the first, reaching its height when Hellenistic culture was taken up by the practical Romans. My exposition of these two parallel systems of thought is primarily based on an independent study of the original authorities.

 In this department of the history of philosophy, much good work has been done in the last quarter of a century. I have made it my business to compare the results of the recent investigation with the sources themselves, now rendered accessible,  as they never have been before, through the labours of such competent scholars as Diels, Wachsmuth,  Usener, and von Arnim. Even with these welcome aids, the task of research is by no means easy, owing to the scantiness and the peculiar nature of the materials that time has spared. To take the early  Stoics, Zeno and Chrysippus; much of the evidence is derived from opponents who were naturally more alert to detect and expose inconsistencies than careful to state impartially the doctrines they impugned.  

When ampler means of information become available,  new difficulties arise; for while it is certain that the  Stoics of Cicero s time had diverged from the standards of orthodoxy prescribed by their predecessors,  it is not equally certain wherein precisely this divergence consisted. Thus Cicero puts into the mouth of Cato a lucid exposition of Stoic ethics, but what particular Stoic was Cicero s authority, and how far this authority reproduced or modified the original doctrine of Zeno and Chrysippus, is a matter of dispute. 

Nor are these difficulties removed by consulting Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, the authors whom we know at first hand and in fullest detail. It is difficult to see how, from a mass of precepts, exhortations and moral reflections the underlying structure of dogma can be inferred with such clearness and precision as readily to serve for comparison with other authorities. 

The most careful inquiry must, therefore, leave room for doubt, on questions of grave importance. In the first three chapters of this work the reader will find a nucleus of fact, well attested by documentary evidence, and my constant endeavour has been to bring him, wherever possible, face to face with the utterances of the  Stoics themselves, so that he may judge for himself of the correctness of my interpretation.  

In the fourth chapter, I have followed substantially the same course, availing myself of the excellent versions of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius by  Long and Rendall. Seneca, on the other hand,  though still popular in France, has with us of late fallen into neglect. Even of his epistles, we have no standard translation, a fact which well deserves the attention of English and American scholars.   

book details :
  • Author: Robert Drew Hicks
  • Publication date: 1910
  • Company: New York: C. Scribner

  • Download Stoic and Epicurean - PDF ebook - 14.5 MB

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