Issue #28 January 2020

Bringing People Closer: Cicero, Hierocles, and Cosmopolitanism

Seth Price - Got 90s Style Teeth (2018) SPR- 18_030L

A Brief Overview of Our Shared Rationality

Stoic philosophies of all ancient eras forward the characterization of our communal nature. The early Greek Stoicism of Chrysippus is reported to argue that the “gods made us for our own and each other’s sakes” (LS, 329). Epictetus’ Discourses describe how we are designed to “contribute to the common benefit” (E, 1.19,12). This is a point that the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius later develops in his Meditations into the assertion that in being “made in the interest of another” we are “born for community” (M, 5.16).

Cicero and Hierocles on Distinguishing the People in Our Lives

One way we can study this is through a well-known idea forwarded by the 2nd century Stoic, Hierocles. Our record of Hierocles’ work is often fragmented, and largely conveyed via the ancient compiler Stobaeus. In one such work titled “On Marriage,” Hierocles directly perpetuates the general Stoic mandate that humanity in its entirety “is naturally disposed to community” (H, 73). It is in another of his essays though, “How Should One Behave toward One’s Relatives?”, that his position on our communal orientations speaks directly to our everyday interpersonal modes.

Seth Price - SPR-18_031L

Bringing People Closer from Our Outside Circles

Hierocles like Cicero is working with the idea that we live according to “unequal” relations between the people in our various circles:

Seth Price - SPR-18_035L

Relate to Others as We Do With Ourselves

In Hierocles’ view, we should exercise our communal nature with others because we already share a rationality with them. When Hierocles asks us to reduce the distance between ourselves and others, he is therefore demanding that we look within ourselves as much as he is impelling us to venture out and contract the social circles that radiate externally around us.

Works Cited

A — Annas, Julia. 1993. The Morality of Happiness. New York: Oxford University Press.


January 2020


A Decolonial Feminism

Timofei Gerber in conversation with Françoise Vergès

Existentialist Hero vs. Ordinary Language Man: Iris Murdoch Confronting Sartre and Wittgenstein

by Eve Y. Lin

Bringing People Closer: Cicero, Hierocles, and Cosmopolitanism

by Will Johncock

Manufacturing Authenticity: How We Yearn for the Real and Fall for the Fake

by Martijn Visser