Neostoicism

Last updated
Justus Lipsius, the founder of Neostoicism Justus Lipsius.png
Justus Lipsius, the founder of Neostoicism

Neostoicism was a syncretic philosophical movement, founded by Flemish humanist Justus Lipsius, that attempted to combine the beliefs of Stoicism and Christianity. In his seminal period in the Northern Netherlands (Leiden, 1578–1591), Lipsius published two most significant works: De Constantia (1583) and Politica (1589).

Religious syncretism

Religious syncretism exhibits blending of two or more religious belief systems into a new system, or the incorporation into a religious tradition of beliefs from unrelated traditions. It is contrasted by the idea of multiple religious belonging and polytheism, respectively.

A philosophical movement is either the appearance or increased popularity of a specific school of philosophy, or a fairly broad but identifiable sea-change in philosophical thought on a particular subject. Major philosophical movements are often characterized with reference to the nation, language, or historical era in which they arose.

The Flemish or Flemings are a Germanic ethnic group native to Flanders, in modern Belgium, who speak Flemish, but mostly use the Dutch written language. They are one of two principal ethnic groups in Belgium, the other being the French-speaking Walloons. Flemish people make up the majority of the Belgian population. Historically, all inhabitants of the medieval County of Flanders were referred to as "Flemings", irrespective of the language spoken. The contemporary region of Flanders comprises a part of this historical county, as well as parts of the medieval duchy of Brabant and the medieval county of Loon.

Contents

Not to be confused with modern Stoicism, a similar movement in the early 21st century.

Modern Stoicism is an intellectual and popular movement in the late 20th and early 21st century which attempts to revive the Stoic philosophy in the modern setting. It is not to be confused with Neostoicism, an analogous phenomenon in the 17th century. The term "Modern Stoicism" covers both the revival of interest in the Stoic philosophy and the philosophical efforts to adjust Ancient Stoicism to the language and conceptual framework of the present. 'The rise of Modern Stoicism' has received attention in the international media since around November 2012 when the first Annual Stoic Week event was organized.

Lipsius

Neostoicism was founded by Flemish humanist Justus Lipsius (1547 – 1606), who in 1584 presented its rules, expounded in his book De constantia (On Constancy), as a dialogue between Lipsius and his friend Charles de Langhe. [1] In the dialogue, Lipsius and de Langhe explore aspects of contemporary political predicaments, by reference to the classical Greek and pagan Stoicism, in particular as found in the Latin writings of Seneca. He further developed Neostoicism in his treatises Manuductionis ad stoicam philosophiam (Introduction to the Stoic Philosophy) and Physiologia stoicorum (Physics of the Stoics), both published in 1604.

Justus Lipsius Southern-Netherlandish philologist

Justus Lipsius was a Flemish philologist, philosopher and humanist. Lipsius wrote a series of works designed to revive ancient Stoicism in a form that would be compatible with Christianity. The most famous of these is De Constantia. His form of Stoicism influenced a number of contemporary thinkers, creating the intellectual movement of Neostoicism. He taught at the universities in Jena, Leiden and Leuven.

Dialogue is a written or spoken conversational exchange between two or more people, and a literary and theatrical form that depicts such an exchange. As a narrative, philosophical or didactic device, it is chiefly associated in the West with the Socratic dialogue as developed by Plato, but antecedents are also found in other traditions including Indian literature.

Seneca the Younger Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, and dramatist

Seneca the Younger(c. 4 BC – AD 65), fully Lucius Annaeus Seneca and also known simply as Seneca, was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and—in one work—satirist of the Silver Age of Latin literature.

Neostoicism is a practical philosophy which holds that the basic rule of good life is that the human should not yield to the passions, but submit to God. Neostoicism recognizes four passions: greed, joy, fear and sorrow. Although the human has the free will, everything that happens (even if it is wrong because of the human) is under control of God and finally it tends to the good. The human who complies with this rule is free, because he is not overcome by the instincts. He is also calm, because all the material pleasures and sufferings are irrelevant for him. Finally, he is really, spiritually happy, because he lives close to God.

Philosophy intellectual and/or logical study of general and fundamental problems

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

Life Characteristic that distinguishes physical entities having biological processes

Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased, or because they never had such functions and are classified as inanimate. Various forms of life exist, such as plants, animals, fungi, protists, archaea, and bacteria. The criteria can at times be ambiguous and may or may not define viruses, viroids, or potential synthetic life as "living". Biology is the science concerned with the study of life.

Human Species of hominid

Humans are the only extant members of the subtribe Hominina. Together with chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, they are part of the family Hominidae. A terrestrial animal, humans are characterized by their erect posture and bipedal locomotion; high manual dexterity and heavy tool use compared to other animals; open-ended and complex language use compared to other animal communications; larger, more complex brains than other animals; and highly advanced and organized societies.

Neostoicism had a direct influence on many seventeenth and eighteenth-century writers including Montesquieu, Bossuet, Francis Bacon, Joseph Hall, Francisco de Quevedo and Juan de Vera y Figueroa. [2] The work of Guillaume du Vair, Traité de la Constance (1594), was another important influence in the Neostoicism movement, but while Lipsius based his Stoicism on the writings of Seneca, du Vair emphasised the Stoic thought of Epictetus. [3] The painter Peter Paul Rubens was a disciple and friend of Lipsius, and there is a painting made by Rubens, now in the Pitti Palace showing Rubens standing next to Lipsius as he teaches two students who are seated in front of him. [4] [5]

Montesquieu French social commentator and political thinker

Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French judge, man of letters, and political philosopher.

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet French bishop and theologian

Jacques-Bénigne Lignel Bossuet was a French bishop and theologian, renowned for his sermons and other addresses. He has been considered by many to be one of the most brilliant orators of all time and a masterly French stylist.

Francis Bacon English philosopher and statesman

Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban, was an English philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General and as Lord Chancellor of England. His works are credited with developing the scientific method and remained influential through the scientific revolution.

See also

Apatheia, in Stoicism, refers to a state of mind in which one is not disturbed by the passions. It is best translated by the word equanimity rather than indifference. The meaning of the word apatheia is quite different from that of the modern English apathy, which has a distinctly negative connotation. According to the Stoics, apatheia was the quality that characterized the sage.

Book of Job book of the Bible

The Book of Job is a book in the Ketuvim ("Writings") section of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), and the first poetic book in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. Addressing the problem of theodicy – the vindication of the justice of God in the light of humanity's suffering – it is a rich theological work setting out a variety of perspectives. It has been widely praised for its literary qualities, with Alfred Lord Tennyson calling it "the greatest poem of ancient and modern times".

Christianity and Hellenistic philosophy

Christianity and Hellenistic philosophies experienced complex interactions during the first to the fourth centuries.

Notes

  1. Justus Lipsius, On Constancy available in English translation by John Stradling, edited by John Sellars (Bristol Phoenix Press, 2006).
  2. Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). "Justus Lipsius". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy .
  3. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: John Sellars, Neostoicism.
  4. Stoics and Neostoics: Rubens and the Circle of Lipsius by Mark Morford, Bryn Mawr Classical Review.
  5. Peter Paul Rubens The Four Philosophers, The Artchive.

Related Research Articles

<i>Enchiridion of Epictetus</i>

The Enchiridion or Handbook of Epictetus is a short manual of Stoic ethical advice compiled by Arrian, a 2nd-century disciple of the Greek philosopher Epictetus. Although the content is mostly derived from the Discourses of Epictetus, it is not a summary of the Discourses but rather a compilation of practical precepts. Eschewing metaphysics, Arrian focuses his attention on Epictetus's work applying philosophy to daily life. The book is thus a manual to show the way to achieve mental freedom and happiness in all circumstances.

Chrysippus ancient Greek philosopher

Chrysippus of Soli was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was a native of Soli, Cilicia, but moved to Athens as a young man, where he became a pupil of Cleanthes in the Stoic school. When Cleanthes died, around 230 BC, Chrysippus became the third head of the school. A prolific writer, Chrysippus expanded the fundamental doctrines of Zeno of Citium, the founder of the school, which earned him the title of Second Founder of Stoicism.

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1583.

Aristo of Chios was a Stoic philosopher and colleague of Zeno of Citium. He outlined a system of Stoic philosophy that was, in many ways, closer to earlier Cynic philosophy. He rejected the logical and physical sides of philosophy endorsed by Zeno and emphasized ethics. Although agreeing with Zeno that Virtue was the supreme good, he rejected the idea that morally indifferent things such as health and wealth could be ranked according to whether they are naturally preferred. An important philosopher in his day, his views were eventually marginalized by Zeno's successors.

<i>Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium</i> collection of letters by Seneca

The Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium, also known as the Moral Epistles and Letters from a Stoic, is a collection of 124 letters that Seneca the Younger wrote at the end of his life, during his retirement, after he had worked for the Emperor Nero for more than ten years. They are addressed to Lucilius, the then procurator of Sicily, who is known only through Seneca's writings. Regardless of how Seneca and Lucilius actually corresponded, it is clear that Seneca crafted the letters with a broad readership in mind.

Pneuma (πνεῦμα) is an ancient Greek word for "breath", and in a religious context for "spirit" or "soul". It has various technical meanings for medical writers and philosophers of classical antiquity, particularly in regard to physiology, and is also used in Greek translations of ruach רוח in the Hebrew Bible, and in the Greek New Testament. In classical philosophy, it is distinguishable from psyche (ψυχή), which originally meant "breath of life", but is regularly translated as "spirit" or most often "soul".

In Stoic philosophy, pneuma is the concept of the "breath of life," a mixture of the elements air and fire. Originating among Greek medical writers who locate human vitality in the breath, pneuma for the Stoics is the active, generative principle that organizes both the individual and the cosmos. In its highest form, the pneuma constitutes the human soul (psychê), which is a fragment of the pneuma that is the soul of God. As a force that structures matter, it exists even in inanimate objects.

Stoicism School of Hellenistic Greek philosophy

Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. While Stoic physics are largely drawn from the teachings of the philosopher Heraclitus, they are heavily influenced by certain teachings of Socrates. Stoicism is predominantly a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to happiness for humans is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or fear of pain, by using one's mind to understand the world and to do one's part in nature's plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly.

A sage, in classical philosophy, is someone who has attained the wisdom which a philosopher seeks. The first to make this distinction is Plato, through the character of Socrates, within the Symposium. While analyzing the concept of love, Socrates concludes Love is that which lacks the object it seeks. Therefore, the philosopher does not have the wisdom sought, while the sage, on the other hand, does not love or seek wisdom, for it is already possessed. Socrates then examines the two categories of persons who do not partake in philosophy:

  1. Gods and sages, because they are wise;
  2. Senseless people, because they think they are wise.
Stoic physics

Stoic physics is the natural philosophy adopted by the Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome used to explain the natural processes at work in the universe. To the Stoics, the universe is a single pantheistic god, but one which is also a material substance. The primitive substance of the universe is a divine essence (pneuma) which is the basis of everything which exists. This pneuma, which is the active part or reason (logos) of God, provides form and motion to matter, and is the origin of the elements, life, and human rationality. From their physics, the Stoics explained the development, and ultimately, the destruction of the universe in a never-ending cycle (palingenesis). The human soul is an emanation from the divine reason which permeates the universe, and knowledge is gained by the mind from sense impressions and subjecting them to reason.

<i>Naturales quaestiones</i> book by Seneca

Naturales quaestiones is a Latin work of natural philosophy written by Seneca around 65 AD. It is not a systematic encyclopedia like the Naturalis Historia of Pliny the Elder, though with Pliny's work it represents one of the few Roman works dedicated to investigating the natural world. Seneca's investigation takes place mainly through the consideration of the views of other thinkers, both Greek and Roman, though it is not without original thought. One of the most unusual features of the work is Seneca's articulation of the natural philosophy with moralising episodes that seem to have little to do with the investigation. Much of the recent scholarship on the Naturales Quaestiones has been dedicated to explaining this feature of the work. It is often suggested that the purpose of this combination of ethics and philosophical 'physics' is to demonstrate the close connection between these two parts of philosophy, in line with the thought of Stoicism.

Balthasar I Moretus Flemish printer

Balthasar Moretus or Balthasar I Moretus was a Flemish printer and head of the Officina Plantiniana, the printing company established by his grandfather Christophe Plantin in Antwerp in 1555.

<i>De Clementia</i> essay by Seneca

De Clementia is a two volume (incomplete) hortatory essay written in 55–56 CE by Seneca the Younger, a Roman Stoic philosopher, to the emperor Nero in the first five years of his reign.

Stoic logic is the system of propositional logic developed by the Stoic philosophers in ancient Greece. It was one of the two great systems of logic in the classical world. It was largely built and shaped by Chrysippus, the third head of the Stoic school in the 3rd-century BCE. Chrysippus's logic differed from Aristotle's term logic because it was based on the analysis of propositions rather than terms. The smallest unit in Stoic logic is an assertible which is the content of a statement such as "it is day". Assertibles have a truth-value such that at any moment of time they are either true or false. Compound assertibles can be built up from simple ones through the use of logical connectives. The resulting syllogistic was grounded on five basic indemonstrable arguments to which all other syllogisms were claimed to be reducible.

<i>De Constantia</i> book by Justus Lipsius (1584)

De Constantia in publicis malis was a philosophical dialogue published by Justus Lipsius in two books in 1583. The book, modelled after the dialogues of Seneca, was pivotal in establishing an accommodation of Stoicism and Christianity which became known as Neostoicism. De Constantia went through over eighty editions between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.

<i>De Ira</i> essay by Seneca

De Ira is a Latin work by Seneca. The work defines and explains anger within the context of Stoic philosophy, and offers therapeutic advice on how to prevent and control anger.

<i>Paradoxa Stoicorum</i>

The Paradoxa Stoicorum is a work by Cicero in which he attempts to explain six famous Stoic sayings that appear to go against common knowledge.

References