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The Structured Self in Hellenistic and Roman Thought$
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Christopher Gill

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198152682

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198152682.001.0001

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Issues in Selfhood: Subjectivity and Objectivity

Issues in Selfhood: Subjectivity and Objectivity

(p.325) 6 Issues in Selfhood: Subjectivity and Objectivity
The Structured Self in Hellenistic and Roman Thought

Christopher Gill (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter challenges the rather common view that Hellenistic-Roman thought shows a shift towards a more subjective and individualistic conception of self. It argues that this period expresses an ‘objective-participant’ conception, like that of Classical Greece. The account of self-knowledge in Plato’s Alcibiades is offered as an illustration of Classical Greek objective-participant thinking about the self. The chapter contests the idea, maintained by some scholars, that we find a shift towards a more subjective conception of self in the Stoic theory of development as appropriation or in Epictetus’ Stoic teachings on practical ethics. It also questions the idea that we can find in ancient thought generally certain themes associated in modern thought with subjective conceptions of selfhood, especially that of the uniquely ‘first-personal’ viewpoint; this point is illustrated by reference to Cyrenaic and Sceptical thought about impressions.

Keywords:   Alcibiades, Cyrenaics, Epictetus, first-personal viewpoint, objective-participant, subjective-individualist, Scepticism, Stoicism

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