published on May 7, 2014
How It's Not the Chrisippus You Read
On Cooper, Hadot, Epictetus, and Stoicism as a Way of Life
This article challenges John M. Cooper’s reading of ancient Stoicism as a way of life, one which sets its back against Pierre Hadot’s notion that Stoicism (or the other ancient schools, excepting Epicureanism) could have philosophically advocated regimens of non-cognitive practices of the kind documented by Hadot. Part 1 examines Arrian’s Discourses, following A. A. Long in seeing in this text Arrian’s portrait of Epictetus as a philosophical persona: one bringing together the different virtues of Socrates, Diogenes, and Zeno. Part 2 then examines Epictetus’s Handbook (Encheiridion), seeing in this text—in contrast to Hadot and Sellars—a distinct set of prescriptions for the kinds of existential practices the Roman Stoics advocated, not in place of philosophical argumentation, but as a means to habituate aspirants’ conduct to ways of thinking, desiring and acting harmonious with their philosophical conclusions.