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Appendix on Stoicism


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Initial post: Sep 6, 2009 11:54:33 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 6, 2009 11:56:49 PM PDT
Adrian Ion says:
Has anyone read the first appendix to this book - the one about stoicism, the Greek philosophy that Marcus Aurelius adhered too?

I was thinking about buying the book at a bookstore, when this appendix caught my interest, so I read the whole thing first.

Now, my idea of what an appendix is supposed to do is to provide further facts and details that did not fit directly into the main text.

But, did anyone get the distinct impression that this "appendix" was really a polemic denouncing the whole philosophy of stoicism?

I mean, the author's tone was incredibly ascerbic and hostile. He even argues that stoicism is like marxism! The point that really caught my eye, though, is when he claimed that (if I understood him correctly) stoicism was a failed philosophy because the stoics themselves failed to abolish slavery in the Roman Empire. It's almost like he was holding the ancient Greeks and Romans to the moral standards set by our modern (post-Christianity and post-Enlightenment) ideas about emancipation and abolitionism. I think that that is what most historians would call "presentism" - anachronistically judging or interpreting the past based on modern, current standards or ideas.

Does anyone have any idea as to why Frank McLynn is so set against stoicism? Does he continue this discussion in the main text? Does he ever describe his own philosophical or religious perspectives (if any in particular)? Or, is he trying to be "controversial" and "critical" just for the sake of it?

By the way, if the author himself is actually reading this, I would be eager to learn his views directly.
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Initial post:  Sep 6, 2009
Latest post:  Sep 6, 2009

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Marcus Aurelius: A Life
Marcus Aurelius: A Life by Frank McLynn (Hardcover - August 11, 2009)
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