Happiness and agency in the Stoics and Aristotle

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4 Scopus citations


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. I argue 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: (1) that happiness consists in activity, and (2) that the attachments within which we act are not constituents of those activities. Thesis 1 rests on deep eudaimonist commitments about goodness, I argue, so an attack on the sufficiency thesis should offer an alternative to 2. I sketch such an alternative, and show how the resulting view of the self alters the modern view of the debate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-112
Number of pages30
JournalProceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Classics


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