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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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Psychological Holism and Socratic Ideals

Psychological Holism and Socratic Ideals

(p.74) 2 Psychological Holism and Socratic Ideals
The Structured Self in Hellenistic and Roman Thought

Christopher Gill (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter identifies the combination of radical (Socratic) ethical claims and psychological holism as a second distinctive feature of Stoic and Epicurean thought about the self. The main ethical claims are that all human beings can achieve happiness by rational reflection and virtue, that happiness involves time-independent perfection of character, and that only the wise are fully coherent ethically and psychologically. The chapter suggests that Stoic and Epicurean ethical ideals were both influenced by Socrates but in quite different ways. It argues that Stoics and Epicureans combine these radical ethical claims with a holistic conception of psychology. This can be contrasted with the Platonic-Aristotelian division of the personality into distinct parts, such as reason and emotion or desire. It also discusses some examples of ‘quasi-dualism’ in Stoicism and Epicureanism, in which seemingly dualistic psychological language is employed for ethical purposes.

Keywords:   Epicureanism, ethical claims, part-based self, psychological holism, quasi-dualism, Socrates, Stoicism

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