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Happiness And Agency In The Stoics And Aristotle

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Chapter Summary

Is virtue sufficient for happiness? That question has had two different histories. Cicero writes that the defining question in ethics since Aristotle was what happiness consists in. In contemporary debate, by contrast, the sufficiency question is usually taken to have been settled by Aristotle. The second history makes the first unintelligible. The author argues that the first history has it right, because the Stoic case for sufficiency was stronger than the Aristotelian case against it. The Stoic case rested on two theses: that happiness consists in activity and that the attachments within which we act are not constituents of those activities. Thesis 1 rests on deep eudaimonist commitments about goodness, the author also argues, so an attack on the sufficiency thesis should offer an alternative to 2. This chapter sketches such an alternative, and shows how the resulting view of the self alters the modern view of the debate.

Keywords: Aristotle; Cicero; Eudaimonia; Stoic's sufficiency thesis



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