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The life and philosophy of Aristippus in the Socratic epistles

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCreative Lives in Classical Antiquity
Subtitle of host publicationPoets, Artists, and Biography
EditorsJohanna Hanink, Richard Fletcher
Publisher or commissioning bodyCambridge University Press
Chapter9
Pages198-218
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781316670651
ISBN (Print)9781107159082
DOIs
DateAccepted/In press - 15 Nov 2015
DatePublished (current) - 1 Nov 2016

Abstract

The pseudonymous letters of Aristippus imagine their ostensible author’s point of view on the events and decisions of his life, and thus constitute life-writing. By coincidence, some historians of philosophy have argued there is nothing to Aristippus’ ethics other than the way he lives his life; he is a Lebenskunstler rather than a Wissenschaftler. In this chapter I try to nuance this distinction, arguing that these letters exemplify how Aristippean Lebenskunst lends itself to discursive theorizing. In fact, such a life can inspire multiple theories, depending on whether we approach it from moral psychology, philosophies of irony and humor, or the literary-historical contexts of their production. I experiment with each of these three approaches without attempting to reconcile them. The philosophical interest of this material, I conclude, lies in its ability to motivate such diverse interpretations.

    Research areas

  • Aristippus, Cyrenaic, Cyrenaicism, hedonism, epistolography, Socratic Epistles, humour, irony

    Structured keywords

  • Institute of Greece, Rome, and the Classical Tradition

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