Responding to the Call of Philosophy: Hellenistic Moral Philosophy as an Art of Living

Tia Jamir

Philosophical Practice

Philosophy is not about a body of inflexible truths, but a way of life. Three recent books give us a sense of the significance and extent of philosophy as a practical enterprise: Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche, by James Miller; How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer, by Sarah Bakewell; and The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life, by Bettany Hughes.1 These books demonstrate that some of the most influential Western philosophers (primarily the ancient philosophers, but also Montaigne, Rousseau, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and others) intended their philosophy to be not just a body of doctrines, of pure intellectual content, but to be above all an “art of living.” Understanding philosophy as an “art of living” means not to change the world, but the philosopher herself.

This essay traces some thoughts from the ancient Western philosophers in stipulating that the chief reason for studying philosophy is not a desire to know more about the world, but a profound sense of dissatisfaction with the state in which one finds oneself at a given moment. Almost anyone can relate to this experience. For example: one day, painfully I realize that something important is missing in my life, that there is a gap between what I currently am and the perceived sense of what I could be. And before I know it, this emptiness starts eating at me. It must

have been in this sense that Socrates used the term “midwifery” for what he was doing; by subjecting those around him to the rigors of his philosophy, he was bringing them into existence properly. Philosophy presupposes a certain degree of self-detestation. It may well be that philosophizing begins in shame and discomfort. If I am a bit too comfortable with myself, if there is nothing I am ashamed of or distressed about, I don’t need philosophy; I am fine as I am. Philosophy at its best offers a way to live with human suffering, pain, grief, and our evolving desires. This way is the path of living through self-transformation.

Pierre Hadot and Exercices Spirituels

So, it appears at the heart of the notion of philosophy as a “way of life” there lies the idea of a radical transformation. Embedded within this acknowledgement is a revelatory realization that it is after all a matter of how we relate to the past. Pierre Hadot already in the late 1970s started using the term exercices spirituels (spiritual exercises) to describe what the (ancient) philosophers were doing. For Hadot, the “spiritual exercises” are practices and routines, performed in a highly self-conscious manner, that engage and train specific human faculties: attention, memory, imagination, and self-control. They are a technique of self-realization; or a kind of self-formation, or as the Greeks called it, paideia, a program that teaches us to live2. Hadot discusses in detail several such “spiritual exercises” practiced first in the Greek, then in the Roman philosophical schools.

In brief, one of the goals of the spiritual exercise was to cure the student from the diseases of arrogance and self-importance. Hence, to philosophize is to re-invent ourselves. Philosophy as it was in the past is a disciplined activity about becoming a better person within a given context and culture. Philosophy helped a student to fashion and re-fashion her identity. With this observation, a detour into the past of the Western philosophy provides a glimpse into the practical practices of a philosophical way of life.

Hellenistic Moral Philosophy

Since antiquity philosophers and moralists have wrestled with the perennial question of how a person can choose against what they know to be the right thing to do. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle wrestled with this same question. In fact, this issue plagued them and inevitably became a focal point for understanding theories of human nature and moral choice. Plato developed a complex theory of the soul to explain how a person can act contrary to his good judgment, and a rich philosophical discourse emerges concerning the psychological foundations of moral and immoral actions. Neo-Aristotelian Martha Nussabaum says, “The Hellenistic thinkers see the goal of philosophy as a transformation of the inner world of belief and desire through the use of rational arguments. And within the inner world they focus above all on the emotions—on anger, fear, grief, love, pity, gratitude, and of their many relatives and subspecies.”3 In other words, on issues that governs our daily mundane living as human beings.

As it turns out, during the Hellenistic period, passions and emotions were a central occupation of moral discourse.4 The project of “moral psychology” was in large measure a therapeutic attempt at balancing or subduing the passions, so that a person could act morally, live well or better approximate eudaimonia, blessedness or thriving.5 Philosophers devoted a great deal of attention to the definition, categorization, and treatment of human passions. References to medicine within philosophy, and vice versa, were widespread. Philosophers treated excessive or detrimental passions as diseases of the soul, in the way that physicians treated diseases of the body. But concern about the passions was not limited to physicians and philosophers. Historians, novelists, dream interpreters, and dramatists presented grief, fear, pleasure, desire, and anger as potentially detrimental to moral advancement.6 Plato’s theory sees passions and appetites as rebellious forces inside the soul, and while late Stoics insist that passions are failures of reason, Aristotle gives the emotions a central role in perception and evaluation.7 In fact, Aristotle makes passions central to perception and to the practice of virtue; there is much at stake in his theory of emotions. Like other ancient philosophers, he makes emotions essential to perception and to the formation of judgments. It is vital to remember that Aristotle’s functional goal of emotion is cognition. It is related to the goal of “hitting the mean,” which is characteristic of his ethics. The standard expression of Aristotle’s definition of virtue is “having the right emotion (pathos) in the right way at the right time.”8 Given the complexity of representing ancient theories of “emotions” it is difficult to define emotions, pathê, in a way that will identify the same feature of the psychic landscape in all accounts. Nussbaum describes emotions as “the common modern generic term, while ‘passions’ is both etymologically closer to the most common Greek and Latin terms and more firmly entrenched in the Western philosophical tradition.” For her, “These terms is a genus of which experiences such as fear, love, grief, anger, envy, jealousy, and other relatives—but not bodily appetites such as hunger and thirst—are the species. (This corresponds to the Stoic use of the Greek pathê, though other Greek writers sometimes use pathê more broadly, to apply to any affect of the creature—preserving the general connection with the verb paschein). This family of experience, which we call emotions as opposed to appetites, is grouped together by many Greek thinkers, beginning at least with Plato, and his account of the soul’s middle part. The Stoics and Plato recognize the same family grouping, though Plato and Chrysippus differ on the family’s proper analysis and definition, and also on the question of whether the experiences are properly ascribed to animals and children”.9 Later philosophers, especially the Stoics, responded to and appropriated Aristotle’s theory.10

After the Greeks, the Roman moralists continued and developed an idea of a relational scale for educating persons and setting them on the path towards virtue.11 On this scale, a wise man, sage, or teacher occupied one end of the spectrum and represented an ideal type towards which someone making progress hoped to move. The general goal of moral reform was to educate a person in order to move him or her closer to the state embodied by the wise man, with progress being measured by the extent to which this happens. These Hellenistic sages make broad use of the medical or therapeutic model for explaining their role as ethical teachers who intervene and therapeutically treat the “illness” and “disease” of the soul.

The Socratic maxim that knowledge is equivalent to virtue summarizes a core issue about mind and action. For the early Stoics, the positive program of moral reform involved the correct recognition of three general categories: that which is true (virtue), that which is false (vice), and all other things which are matters of indifference. The Stoics also viewed the soul as material and often discussed the emotions in more “physicalist” terms. This highlights the way that the mind is constituted materially by different grades of matter. Such perspectives often explain how mental processes are connected to action, but this is a phenomenon that is at once physicalist and cognitive.12 Playing off Aristotle’s maxim that “man is a political animal,” the Epicureans also insisted that city living has a profoundly negative effect on people’s character and completely warps and perverts their values and self-understanding.13 Aristotle understands virtue to be conditioned by a person’s social and political habitus; Epicureans take a much more radical view towards the nature of social life. Stoics insist that the passions are false beliefs and locate their origins in the human experience of socialization. Epicureans take a similar view but also emphasize the social mis-education inherent in popular ideas such as the fear of death and of the gods. Clearly, for the Epicureans not all desires are bad. The real problem is that most people mistakenly desire the wrong objects and thus have “empty desires.” These empty desires do a great deal of harm and are a constant source of angst and suffering; the goal of the Epicurean teaching is to re-direct desires to the right kinds of objects. The catchword of Epicurean ethics is autoarcheia or, freedom from distress, whereas the Stoics are focused on pathê with the goal of complete extirpation. As a cure, they described in their texts various types of medicine, describing some as “bitter,” and others as “mild.” Where some people required mere “tonics,” others might require some form of “surgery.” 14

Elsewhere, Epictetus, alludes to three fields of study, in which he who would be wise and good must be exercised: that of the desire and aversions, that he may not be disappointed of the one, nor incur the other; that of the pursuits and avoidances, and, in general, the duties of life, that he may act with order and consideration, and not carelessly; the third includes integrity of mind and prudence, and, in general, whatever belongs to the judgment.15 He goes on to say that desires and aversions are the most urgent concern, for it is they that arouse the passions. When a desire is disappointed or an aversion is encountered, passion results, disturbing the inner state in undesirable ways: “It is this which introduces perturbations, tumults, misfortunes, and calamities; this is the spring of sorrow, lamentations, and envy; this renders us envious and emulous, and incapable of hearing reason.” The Epictetion remedy is to train oneself through the cultivation of good habits and the practice of appropriate discipline or spiritual exercises and not to allow desire or aversion to take as their objects things which are uncontrollable by the will. Despite difference, the major philosophical schools agreed that desire creates and form a student’s wellbeing since it directly impacts her living in the society.

There is a clear hierarchy implicit between teachers and students, based on that of the doctor and patient. Both medicine and philosophy index this hierarchy between patients and doctors, and students and teachers, by the possession and mastery of certain forms of knowledge. Epicureans are generally criticized for overly venerating their teachers and treating Epicurus as a god. Glad argues that the doctor/patient relationship cannot be ascribed to rigid social categories, as “What is accentuated in this fluid system of rotational pychagogy is its collaborative nature.”16 These concepts of emotions along with the medical sciences were important conceptual players in philosophical discourses among different Hellenistic schools of thought.

Seneca articulates a similar therapeutic scale in several of his letters to Lucillius. In Epistle 75, he explains that there are three types of persons making progress. The first are those who in making progress have escaped the “disease of the mind, but not its passions,” for though they have knowledge of the good, they are “not yet sure of it.”17 As we can observe, these people have escaped the horrible wickedness that afflicts most humans, but they are still given to their passions. These are diseases and according to Seneca, these diseases are “hardened and chronic vices, such as greed and ambition; they have enfolded the mind in too close a grip, and have begun to be permanent evils thereof.18 The second class of humanity is mostly free of passions, but still not consistently “immune” to them. The third class has progressed further so that they are “beyond the reach of many of the vices and particularly of the great vices, but not beyond the reach of all.”19 This third type has escaped the excesses of greed and lust, not minor vices like anger or fear of death. Seneca’s classes of persons share basic structural similarity with Aristotle’s moral characters, even if they do not map cleanly onto Aristotle’s characterization. On the negative end of the spectrum both Aristotle and Seneca distinguish types by the severity of the moral problem, which they explain by using medical analogies of chronic or hardened badness. Likewise, on the good end of the spectrum, both distinguish types of those making progress based on the consistency with what good the person does.

Elsewhere, he writes of the distinction between one making progress towards wisdom and one who is fully wise as “the difference between a healthy man and one who is convalescing from a severe and lingering illness,” for whom “health means only a lighter attack of disease. If the latter does not take heed, there is an immediate relapse and a return to the same old trouble; but the wise man cannot slip back, or slip into any more illness at all.”20 At both ends of the scale, goodness and badness are said to be physically entrenched so that the wholly bad person is beyond cure while the wholly good teacher/sage is beyond relapse.

Interestingly, in his Tusculan Disputations, Cicero writes about grief in this manner:

These then are the comforter’s responsibilities: to remove distress altogether, or to cause it to subside, or to diminish it as much as possible, or to restrain it so that it cannot spread any further, or to divert it elsewhere. Some hold that the comforter has only one responsibility: to teach the sufferer that what happened is not an evil at all. This is the view of Cleanthes. Others, including the Peripatetics, would teach that it is not a great evil. Still others, for instance Epicurus, would draw attention away from evils and towards good things, and there are yet others who think it sufficient to show that nothing has happened contrary to expectation. And the list goes on. Chrysippus, for his part, holds that the key to consolation is to get rid of the person’s belief that mourning is something he ought to do, something just and appropriate. Finally, there are those who bring together all these types of consolation, since different methods work for different people.21

Again, as we can see, the objects of the philosophers’ task are the diseases of the soul, and the remedies for these diseases are different forms of teaching, exhortation, and admonition. Philosophers depict their role as “therapeutic” in the sense that they carefully diagnose the ethical problems of each person and prescribe healing remedies for their ills. The practical aspects of the medical task in diagnosing and healing the body’s diseases may have appealed especially to philosophers seeking to ground their more speculative projects. Just as physicians diagnose disease and health, sickness and cure, so philosophers similarly construct the object of their work, diseases of the soul, along with their appropriate teachings, which are supposed to remedy them.

Clarence Glad’s work on adaptability in Epicurean and Christian psychagogy addresses many characteristics of this therapeutic spectrum. For example, he explains how the so-called “mixed method” of exhortation styled itself around therapeutic models: “improvement depended on the severity of the illness, which in turn was contingent on how moralists assessed the severity of the ‘sickness’ such as lust, greed, avarice, ambition, notoriety, contentiousness, pretentiousness, anger and arrogance. The appropriate treatment depended on the ‘sickness’ in question, defined in view of the human condition. Each sickness needed to be treated with different hortatory means, all of which presupposed the possibility of change.”22 Elsewhere, he writes, “Both the audience and the human disposition require diverse and multiple treatments. A close tie exists thus between the moralist’s view of the human condition and his execution of the task at hand. In light of the diversity of human experience and of the human condition, access to a pool of various forms of hortatory terms and practices was pertinent”23 Clarence Glad’s study on Paul and Philodemus shows that adaptability is basic to the whole idea of moral education and the practice of so-called “practical ethics.”24

Interestingly and more importantly insightfully, in the beginning of book 7 of the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle defines three types of moral characters (êthnê) which are to be avoided. These are kakia, akrasia, and theriotês, and their opposites are artê, egkrateia, and sôphrosynê. The symmetry of these types is apparent in the pairs that emerge elsewhere in Nic. eth 7. Aristotle’s criteria for distinguishing different types of weakness and strength are as important as his metaphors. He makes distinctions based on whether actions are habitual and on whether such bad characteristics are curable. Thus, the degree of moral goodness or badness has to do with whether the act of choice itself is consistent, whether good or bad. Aristotle generalizes moral weakness and failure to the so-called barbarian people. He says, “And inasmuch as it is rare for a man to be divine, in the sense in which that word is commonly used by the Lacedaemonians as a term of extreme admiration . . . so a bestial character is rare among human beings; it is found most frequently among barbarians, and some cases also occur as a result of disease or arrested development. We sometimes also use ‘bestial” as a term of opprobrium for a surpassing degree of human vice.”25 Clearly, moral characters are naturalized not only to the person but also groups of persons, especially those related by ties of kinship.

Similarly, Plutarch’s Progress in Virtue, written around the first and early second centuries CE, provides good evidence of continuation of the therapeutic spectrum. He is an avowed Platonist, and argues against the position of the early Stoics that attaining virtue is sudden and all-or-nothing. Rather he believes that progress must be slow and arduous, and that such progress is fundamental to moral education. He states,

We observe that there are degrees in every kind of evil, and especially in the indeterminate and undefined kind that has to do with the soul. In the same way, also there are different degrees of progress produced by the abatement of baseness like a receding shadow, as reason gradually illuminates and purifies the soul. We do not, therefore think that consciousness of the change is unreasonable in the case of persons who are, as it were, making their way upward out of some deep gorge, but that there are ways in which it can be computed.26

Here, Plutarch is not interested in offering criteria for distinguishing degrees of evil or degrees by which baseness abates. Rather, he seeks to prove that there is a progressive scale in moral transformation.27 He discusses exhortation medicinally as something that ought to evoke particular responses and then shifts to the metaphor of whipping impenetrable flesh. Elsewhere Plutarch explains that exhortation must be carefully adapted to the particular needs of each pupil. He writes, “To hear a reprehension or admonition to reform character, delivered in words that penetrate like a biting drug, and not to be humbled at hearing it, not to run into a sweating and dizziness, not to burn with shame in the soul, but, on the contrary to listen unmoved, grinning, dissembling in the face of it all, is a notable sign of an illiberal nature in the young, dead to all modesty because of an habitual and continued acquaintance with wrongdoing, with a soul like hard and calloused flesh upon which no lash can leave a wealth.” He discusses exhortation medicinally as something that ought to evoke particular responses and then shifts to the metaphor of whipping impenetrable flesh. He discusses exhortation medicinally as something that ought to evoke particular responses and then shifts to the metaphor of whipping impenetrable flesh.28

Likewise, Epictetus, writing also in the mid-first to second century CE, emphasizes the linearity of progress as he urges his student Arrian to choose progress in virtue over easy acceptance by his dissolute friends. He cautions repeatedly that, “No man is able to make progress when he is facing both ways.”29 On the other hand, Seneca practiced nightly rituals of self-interrogation, asking himself (once his wife was asleep) what ill he had done and what faults he had remedied.30 The goal of Seneca is the “abiding stability of mind the Greeks call euthymia, ‘well beingof the soul,’ … I call it tranquility.”31 Pierre Hadot insightfully notes, Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations is not just advice about the disciplines of mind and soul, but the enactment (or practice) of them.32 In Plutarch, we find a similar concern with control of the passions and desires, and the advocacy of similar techniques of self- scrutiny for “making progress in virtue.” This includes an examination of one’s thoughts, actions, and dreams, of one’s level of comfort around good people, and of one’s tendencies to excuse personal errors.33 The goal here is moderation and direction toward virtuous ends, not their extirpation. For Plutarch, the experience of erotic desire is analogous to philosophical desire. He says, “When a young woman has experienced a man, the heat in her eyes give her away; and when a young man has experienced genuine philosophical progress, these lines of Sappho’s are relevant: ‘I am tongue-tied, and delicate fire plays over my skin’—despite which, his gaze is unworried and his eye calm and you would want to hear him speak.”34 This presupposes that making progress is a matter of consistently moving either towards or away from vice and immorality.

Michael Foucault and pratiques de soi

It is obvious that the problem of passion is one of the principal concerns of Greco- Roman moral philosophy. Along with Pierre Hadot, Michel Foucault provides another insightful perspective into the study of ancient philosophy as a way of life. Foucault’s maxim pratiques de soi (“care of the self”) perceptively captures the ancient and late antique obsession with desire and self-mastery. In process, Foucault meticulously studies the system of classical education and its relationship to virtue ethos. In this, he is very helpful. Like Hadot, Foucault also rightly dentifies the principal philosophical problem of the age to be the problem of the passions. The remedy was a “conversion to the self” achieved through askesis, meaning “not asceticism, but the practice of spiritual exercises, though taking itself as its own object of consideration, together with imagination and sensibility.”35

The cure for the passions was to be found unsurprisingly in therapeutic action, which both Foucault and Hadot identify as the “spiritual exercises,” that is, ways of turning the governing attention of the self onto the self. In The Care of the Self Michel Foucault reframes Hadot’s concerns in terms of pratiques de soi (“practices of the self”) or the “cultivation of the self.” Here “the art of existence” (techne tou biou) is based on the understanding that one must take care of oneself. Foucault finds that “care for oneself” (heautou epimeleisthai) was deeply ingrained in the Greek culture. He makes an inventory of intellectual and spiritual practices, which he calls “practices of the self” (pratiques de soi), through which someone living in antiquity could perfect herself.

Foucault is convinced that philosophers of the Hellenistic period advocated active practices of listening, writing, and habitual self-reflection, along with practices of abstinence intended to establish independence from the external world.36 Foucault aptly characterizes self-formation in this manner: “Christianity requires another form of truth obligation different from faith. Each person has the duty to know who he is, that is, to try to know what is happening inside him, to acknowledge faults, to recognize temptations, to locate desires; and everyone is obliged to disclose these things either to God or to others in the community, and hence, to bear public or private witness against oneself. The truth obligations of faith and the self are linked together. This link permits a purification of the soul impossible without self- knowledge.”37

Foucault makes an astute observation regarding the Greco-Roman strategies for self-regulation and self-scrutiny. He states, “What is called Christian interiority is a particular mode of relationship with oneself, comprising precise forms of attention, concern, decipherment, verbalization, confession, self-accusation, struggle against temptation, renunciation, spiritual combat, and so on.”37 In the Foucauldian view, disciplinary and self-restraining operations are not finally contrary to pleasure or desire, but are rather mechanisms for the fabrication of pleasure or desire. The ethos of self-mastery is one of transformation of identity. The desires aroused by vice are countered not by restraint but through strategies of growth.


Whether as exercices spirituels (“spiritual exercises”), as in Hadot’s case, or as pratiques de soi (“practices of the self”), as in Foucault’s, there is a consensus that what philosophers do when they philosophize is not so much about the world around, but about themselves; to philosophize is to practice self-fashioning: to engage in a project of realizing oneself. Philosophers are interested primarily not in offering a theoretical vision of the world around (even though they end up doing that), but in mapping out and transforming the world within. There can be something dark, disturbing, and even dangerous about self-examination. To examine oneself is not to take a path to happiness, sometimes self-examination is a curse and the self-examiner a doomed person. In its essence, self-examination is painful struggle and self-overcoming. Unexamined life may not be worth living, but examined life can be unlivable.

Philosophers gladly proclaim “know thyself,” but often they forget to mention the high price that comes with such knowledge. Indeed, this is no comfortable learning; it is after all, as many on the path to self-transformation realize knowledge of one’s limits and limitations. To the extent that any serious quest for wisdom (the very definition of philosophy) starts in self-examination, the one who embarks on it is faced with a world of anguish, inner conflicts, groundlessness, even personal disaster. And yet, this is not the whole story, only the beginning. As life-threatening as the journey may be, the final destination makes it worth taking. Life examined is thus life transformed. In this sense, true philosophy is by definition performative; it is not something we talk about, it is something we do.

Philosophy does not exist properly unless it is embodied in a human being; in a sense, philosophy is word become flesh. Christianity made the most of this insight. Just as in a philosopher’s text we look for plausibility of evidence and soundness of arguments, so in a philosopher’s life we seek consistency of behavior and symmetry between discourse and action. A weak argument can ruin a philosopher’s reputation, just like a flawed biography can; if the philosopher does not practice the philosophy she professes, she invalidates it. The distinction between philosophies as a discipline distinct from praxis is largely a modern one. In fact, what all major philosophical school of antiquity had in common was a set fundamental practices: “learning to live,” “learning to die,” “learning to dialogue,” “learning to argue/discourse,” “learning how to read,” and so forth. These are all vital practices enabling the student to learn the art of living well in the world.

1 James Miller, Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche, (Picador, New York, 2012); Sarah Bakewell, How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer, (Other Press, New York, 2011); Bettany Hughes, The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life, (Vintage: New York, 2011).

2 Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault, trans. Michael Chase (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995).

3 Martha Nussbaum, The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics, (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2009), 78.

4 A. W. Price, Mental Conflict (London: Routledge, 1995); Justin Gosling, Weakness of the Will (London: Routledge, 1990); John M. Cooper, Reason and Emotion: Essays on Ancient Moral Psychology and Ethical Theory (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999); Helen North, Sophrosyne: Self-Knowledge and Self-Restraint in Greek Literature (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1966).

5 On the problem relating to translating eudaimonia, see Nussbaum, The Therapy of Desire, 15. Grube gives a good summary statement of this: “Plato believes that the fundamental goal of education is not to put knowledge into people’s souls but to change their desires, thereby turning them around from the pursuit of what they falsely believe to be happiness to the pursuit of true happiness (518b-519d),” in Plato, Republic, trans. G. M. A. Grube (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1992), xvi.

6 Kenneth Dover, Greek Popular Morality in the Time of Plato and Aristotle (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), Michel Foucault, The Use of Pleasure: The History of Sexuality, vol. 2, trans. R. Hurley (New York: Random House, 1990); The Care of the Self: The History of Sexuality vol. 3, trans. R. Hurley (New York: Random House, 1988), and John Winkler, The Constraints of Desire: The Anthropology of Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece (New York: Routledge, 1990).

7 For more on this, see Christopher Gill’s introduction “Emotions in Greco-Roman Philosophy,” in The Passions in Roman Thought and Literature, ed. Susanna Morton Braund and Christopher Gill (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 5-15. Gill introduces a succinct survey of current work on Aristotelian, Stoic, and Epicurean therapeutic traditions.

8 See M. F. Burnyeat, “Aristotle on Learning to be Good” in Essays on Aristotle’s Ethics, ed. Amélie Oksenberg Rorty (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980), 69-92.

9 Nussbaum, The Therapy of Desire, 319 n.4.

10 See Plutarch’s discussion on Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics in his treatise De virtute morali 440D- 452D, and for a Stoic one see the extended debate with Aristotle which forms a centerpiece to both Seneca’s De ira and his De clementia.

11 Yet, an exception would be Ariston of Chios, who supposed that there was no progress, but a total, sudden, and completely transforming commitment.

12 For more see Julia Annas, Hellenistic Philosophy of Mind (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992).

13 For more on Epicurean passion see D. P. Fowler, “Epicurean Anger,” in Passions in Roman Thought, 16-35; Annas, “Epicurean Emotions,” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 30 (1989): 145-64.

14 For more on this see Clarence Glad, Paul and Philodemus: Adaptability in Early Christian Psychagogy(Leiden: Brill, 1995), 15-175.


15 Epictetus, Discourses and Enchiridion Book 3, trans. Thomas Wentworth Higginson (New York: Walter J. Black, 1944), 177-78.

16 Ibid., 160.

17 Seneca, Ep., 75.10.

18 Ep., 75.11.

19 Ep. 75.14.

20 Ep. 72.6.

21 Tusc. 3.75-76. The quotation is translated by Margaret Graver, Cicero on the Emotion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002); see also Andrew Erskine, “Cicero and the Expression of Grief” in The Passions in Roman Thought and Literature, ed, Susanna Morton Braund and Christopher Gill (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 41. See also Tusc. 3.23-4.

22 Glad, Paul and Philodemus, 66.

23 Ibid., 61.

24 There are extensive discussions of the “art of censure” in Glad’s Paul and Philodemus, 73-8.

25 Nic. eth 1145a27-34.

26 Plutarch, Virt. prof. 76B.

27 See Listening to Lectures, 46D.

28 Ibid.

29 Discourses, 4.2.4.

30 Seneca, “On Anger,” III.36.1-3, in Moral Essays. trans. John W. Basare (New York: Putnam’s, 1928), 1,.339-341.

31 Seneca, “On Tranquility of Mind” in Moral Essays, 2.215-37.

32 Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, 179-205.

33 Plutarch, “On Being Aware of Moral Progress,” in Essays, trans. Robin Waterfield (New York: Penguin, 1992), 137-45.

34 ” Plutarch, “On Being Aware of Moral Progress,” 136.

35 Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault, trans. Michael Chase (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995), 81-83. Likewise, Nussbaum claims that “the therapy of desire and judgment is [Stoicism’s] central focus in ethics.” Nussbaum, The Therapy of Desire, 43.

36 For more see Michel Foucault, “The Hermeneutic of the Subject,” in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, vol. 1 of .Essential Works of Foucault 1954–84, ed. Paul Rabinow (New York: New Press, 1997), 101- 105; and “Technologies of the Self,” in Ethics, 223-251.

37 Michel Foucault, The Use of Pleasure, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage, 1990), 63.

The author’s has a MA in New Testament, along with an M Div, and a STM in Historical Theology. He is currently completed a PhD in Theological Studies. His interest empowers his passion to serve and care for the patients, clients, staff, stakeholders, and in particular under-represented social groups. He is chaplain at Baylor Health Care System