Stoicism and the Western Political Tradition by Lisa Hill and Eden Blazejak
This book's topic is narrower than its title would suggest. It is not a history of every Western intellectual movement (like the Neo-Stoics) that received influence from the ancient Stoics. The authors' narrower thesis is that the philosophy of Stoicism influenced the development of several things they approve of: egalitarianism, cosmopolitanism, utilitarianism, universal (secular) human rights, and feminism. The focus is on intellectuals in early modern Britain who gifted the world with these Enlightenment ideas. Hill and Blazejak discuss the influence on these intellectuals of the Roman Stoics Seneca, Epictetus, Musonius Rufus, and Marcus Aurelius, along with such fragments or summaries as we have of the earlier Greek Stoics.
As the authors note, Stoicism is undergoing a modern revival, but this revival often focuses on individual Stoic spiritual and mental attitudes: focusing on what is within our control and not suffering anxiety over what isn't. But as the authors emphasize, classical Stoicism had a political dimension, and it is this dimension that allegedly influenced Hill and Blazejak's favorite intellectuals.
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Max Longley is a writer in Durham, North Carolina. He is the author of Quaker Carpetbagger (McFarland, 2020), For the Union and the Catholic Church (McFarland, 2015), and numerous articles.
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