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Philosophy of the Roman Republic

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Courtney Kearney

on 19 June 2013

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Transcript of Philosophy of the Roman Republic

Philosophy of the Roman Republic
This Renaissance painting by Raphael depicts one of the meetings between Greek and Roman philosophers
Epicurean philosophy was explained in Lucretius' poem "On the Nature of Things" for Romans who could not read Greek
Academy Skeptics believed that a person should always question whatever they heard or thought to be true
Courtney Kearney
Latin III Period 2
June 13th, 2013

Most Roman philosophical ideas came from Greek culture
The first and most common type of philosophy in Rome was Stoicism
Stoic teachings were brought to Rome in 155 by Diogenes of Babylon and were made popular by Panaetius and Posidonius
Neo-Platonic, Epicurean, Gnosticism, and Academy Skeptics were also popular types of philosophy in Roman culture
Cicero, Seneca, Lucretius, Plotinus, and Panaetius emerged as some of the most well-known philosophers in Rome
The most important concept of Stoicism was that of logos
Logos means "rational order" or "meaning" of the universe; logos said the order of the universe is controlled by God
Stoicism was largely accepted by Romans because of its acceptance of all situations, including harsh ones, which emphasized their "crowning achievement": virtus, or manliness
Stoics believed that human being could never arrive at the certain truth about anything, all that we know and think is false or is in a position between the false and the true
Every single event that has happened or will happen is part of a larger rational order, nothing happens which is not part of a greater reason or good
To Romans, the greater good was the spread of the Roman Empire and its laws
Cicero was mainly an Academy Skeptic, he used these ideas to try to make men more logical thinkers, resulting in better decisions and a better run government
Skepticism also taught that a skeptic must find as many perspectives as possible then eliminate ideas until a valid idea was reached, this helped Cicero in law
Similar to Stoicism, Skeptics believed that nothing could be known with certainty, "truth" is probability
Epicurus founded Epicurean philosophy in the early 3rd century B.C.
Much Epicurean philosophy relates to math and science, especially physics
"On the Nature of Things" describes the Epicurean atomism in six books: Fundamental Principles, Atomic Compounds, the Soul and Mortality, the Soul's Powers, and the Universe and its
The basic principles of Epicurean philosophy are: 1) Nothing originates from nothing or ceased to become nothing 2) There are only two entities in the universe, body and void, everything else is inseparable or a form of these two 3) Everything is made of atoms 4) The universe is infinite
Gnosticism can be traced back to the times of the Egyptians and Babylonians
Largely influenced by Persian religions and Platonic philosophy
Believed that the world is made up of matter (negative) and mind/spirit (positive)
We can progress towards the ultimate (pure form) of spirit by attaining secret knowledge announced by a savior
Strong focus on astrology; taught that the seven planets represent seven spheres the soul must pass through to reach God
When Christianity formed, Gnosticism was promoted as a higher and truer form of Christianity
Said that there was an original God, then his sons, or aions, and the first aion was Sophia who had the fatal flaw of pride; this pride infected the rest of the Universe and as original sin, must be undone with
the help of a savior
Neo-Platonism's biggest advocate and founder, in the 3rd century B.C., is Plotinus
When on a military campaign to Persia, Plotinus encountered many Persian and Indian ideas that worked with Plato's teachings
Believed God is the supreme being, absolute unity, and is indescribable; he was called "the One", eternal and infinite
Taught that creation is a continuous outflow from the One, each new creation a bit less perfect than the one before
The first creation (after the One) was Nous, or Divine Mind/Intelligence, then Psyche, which was fragmented into all individual souls, then the world of space, matter, and the senses
Ecstatic communion with the One is the only thing that can liberate us
Neo-Platonic teachings regarding religion were quite comparable to Christianity
Born circa 180 B.C., died in 109 B.C.
Founder of Roman Stoic philosophy
Was a pupil of Diogenes, and also studied the work of Plato and Aristotle
Influential member of the Scipio Aemilianus' circle
Succeeded Antipater as head of the Stoic school in Athens, passing the last twenty years of his life there
Adhered to strict Stoic teachings but also dealt with ancient Stoa and introduced a new humanist note
His literary account of ethics "On the Appropriate" became Cicero's model for the first two books of the "De Officiis"
Well-educated in childhood and developed a love for philosophy from a young age
Studied in Rome under Stoic philosopher and Roman politician Quintus Mucius Scaevola
Became a Stoic and Academy Skeptic philosopher
Very fond of Plato's work, especially on morality
Cicero began to write of philosophy among other subjects, his infamous "De Republica", "De Legibus", and "De Officiis" being written circa 55 and 51 B.C.
Cicero's writing mainly focused on human nature, justice, the Republic, and citizenry
His work with philosophy aided him in his political and law careers, especially the Academy Skeptic teaching that you should question everything
you hear
Epicurean poet during the middle years of the 1st century B.C.
His poem "On the Nature of Things" is our primary source of information about Epicurean physics
Lucretius lived in Italy at a time when Epicureanism was flourishing
Highly influenced by Epicurus to the point of obsession; Lucretius was said to be "philosophically isolated", getting all of his ideas directly from Epicurus' writings, adopting Epicurus' enemies, etc.
Took great pride in his task of being the first Epicurean poet
Believed that philosophy is a medicine for the soul
Loved to remind us that we are all afraid of the unknown
Died circa 50 B.C.
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