Saturday, August 12, 2017

Stoics and Christians: a common intuition

From The Church Times-

THERE is an odd set of documents, purportedly written during the first Christian decades, which consists of a series of letters supposedly exchanged by St Paul and Seneca, the Roman senator and tutor to Nero.

They are undoubtedly fabrica­tions. But they bear witness to the most widespread philosophy that the earliest followers of Jesus would have known: Stoicism, of which Seneca was a sophisticated advocate.

Today, Stoic philosophy is under­going a substantial revival. And it’s worth considering how the two relate to each other now, much as some early Christians pondered the question way back then.

There is one thing that all mod­ern Stoics will tell you about their convictions. Stoicism doesn’t mean keeping a stiff upper lip and sitting on feelings. Rather, “it is about acknow­ledging our emotions, re­­flect­­ing on what causes them, and redirecting them for our own good,” as the philosopher Massimo Pigliucci puts it in his new book, How To Be A Stoic (Rider, 2017).

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