Epictetus on How the Stoic Sage Loves

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Abstract
I show that in Epictetus’ view (1) the wise man genuinely loves (στέργειv) and is affectionate (φιλόστoργoς) to his family and friends; (2) only the Stoic wise man is, properly speaking, capable of loving—that is, he alone actually has the power to love; and (3) the Stoic wise man loves in a robustly rational way which excludes passionate, sexual, ‘erotic’ love (’έρως). In condemning all ’έρως as objectionable πάθoς Epictetus stands with Cicero and with the other Roman Stoics, Seneca and Musonius Rufus, and against the Greeks of the early Stoa. Epictetus’ conception of love excludes erotic passion because of its intrinsic excessiveness and uncontrollableness, which inevitably endanger mental serenity, but includes and emphasizes the soberly rational, purely positive joy of interpersonal affiliation. Epictetus’ account of how the Stoic Sage loves is, I think, more consistent and less problematic than that of the Greek Stoics.
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Archival date: 2019-12-11
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2017-10-19

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