False Idles: The Politics of the "Quiet Life"

In Ryan Balot (ed.), A Companion to Greek and Roman Political Thought. Oxford, UK: pp. 485-500 (2008)
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The dominant Greek and Roman ideology held that the best human life required engaging in politics, on the grounds that the human good is shared, not private, and that the activities central to this shared good are those of traditional politics. This chapter surveys three ways in which philosophers challenged this ideology, defended a withdrawal from or transformation of traditional politics, and thus rethought what politics could be. Plato and Aristotle accept the ideology's two central commitments but insist that a few exceptional human beings could transcend the good of human activities. Epicurus argues that the human good is private, not shared. Socrates and some of his followers, including especially the Stoics, argue that the activities central to the shared human good are not those of traditional politics.
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