Jack Visnjic, The Invention of Duty: Stoicism as Deontology [Book Review]

Journal of the History of Philosophy 60 (4):690-692 (2022)
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This provocative study presents philological, philosophical, and historical arguments that with the Greek term καθῆκον and its Latin equivalent officium the ancient Stoics invented a new concept that anticipated the modern notion of moral duty, for example, Pflicht in Kant. Scholars began to shift from translating kathēkon as "duty" to translating it as "appropriate or fitting action" in the late 1800s, according to Visnjic. The usage of the verb kathēkein in Greek literature prior to the Stoics suggests to him that it described something prescribed by law, tradition, or decree. Visnjic believes the etymology of kathēkon offered by Zeno, the founder of the Stoa, was meant to reveal the...

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William O. Stephens
Creighton University


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