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Toward a Practice of Stoic Pragmatism

Toward a Practice of Stoic Pragmatism steven a. miller yasuko taoka Southern Illinois University Carbondale Despite broad influence on the history of philosophy, Stoicism has lain long dormant as a practical philosophy. Of late, however, some have sought to modernize Stoicism for the contemporary world.1 It has found success in the military, as Stockdale and Sherman report. While the promise of tranquility through reason and self-discipline presents an appealing vision in emotional times, some tenets of Stoicism cannot gain purchase among society at large: predetermination, absolute morality at all times, and the idea of a non-relational conception of virtue sound dated to a modern audience, particularly Americans. John Lachs has recently proposed an enriched philosophical program, "Stoic pragmatism," implicit in his life's work.2 Its origins are obvious enough: in marrying the attitudes and practices of ancient Stoicism--as exemplified in the writings of Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus--and late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American pragmatism--particularly that of William James and John Dewey--Lachs puts forward a novel admixture that preserves what is useful in the two traditions while overcoming some of their potential weaknesses. Pragmatism, Lachs says, captures what is best in the can-do American spirit. Problems, including those that seem most meaningful or intractable, are http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Pluralist University of Illinois Press

Toward a Practice of Stoic Pragmatism

The Pluralist , Volume 10 (2) – Jun 19, 2015

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
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Copyright © University of Illinois Press
ISSN
1944-6489
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Abstract

steven a. miller yasuko taoka Southern Illinois University Carbondale Despite broad influence on the history of philosophy, Stoicism has lain long dormant as a practical philosophy. Of late, however, some have sought to modernize Stoicism for the contemporary world.1 It has found success in the military, as Stockdale and Sherman report. While the promise of tranquility through reason and self-discipline presents an appealing vision in emotional times, some tenets of Stoicism cannot gain purchase among society at large: predetermination, absolute morality at all times, and the idea of a non-relational conception of virtue sound dated to a modern audience, particularly Americans. John Lachs has recently proposed an enriched philosophical program, "Stoic pragmatism," implicit in his life's work.2 Its origins are obvious enough: in marrying the attitudes and practices of ancient Stoicism--as exemplified in the writings of Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus--and late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American pragmatism--particularly that of William James and John Dewey--Lachs puts forward a novel admixture that preserves what is useful in the two traditions while overcoming some of their potential weaknesses. Pragmatism, Lachs says, captures what is best in the can-do American spirit. Problems, including those that seem most meaningful or intractable, are

Journal

The PluralistUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: Jun 19, 2015

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