Ethics in stoic philosophy

Julia Annas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


When examining the role of Stoic ethics within Stoic philosophy as a whole, it is useful for us to look at the Stoic view of the way in which philosophy is made up of parts. The aim is a synoptic and integrated understanding of the theoremata of all the parts, something which can be achieved in a variety of ways, either by subsequent integration of separate study of the three parts or by proceeding through 'mixed' presentations, which can be made at varying levels of understanding. In two presentations of Stoic ethics we find initially baffling claims about the life of virtue being 'the same as' or 'equivalent to' the life according to nature. These indicate approaches in which understanding of ethical concepts was enlarged and enriched by study of physics. Interpretation which makes physics in these passages into ethical foundations answers poorly to the ancient texts and raises severe difficulties as an interpretation of Stoicism. Two texts which have been taken to commit Stoics to a foundationalist view of the relation of ethics and physics do not in fact do so; rather, they fit well into the holistic view of philosophy and its parts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-87
Number of pages30
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2007


  • Ethics
  • Foundations
  • Holism
  • Metaphysics
  • Nature
  • Physics
  • Virtue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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