Law, Reason, and the Cosmic City: Political Philosophy in the Early Stoa

Paperback | April 15, 2012

byKatja Maria Vogt

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The notions of the cosmic city and the common law are central to early Stoic political thought. As Vogt shows, together they make up one complex theory. A city is a place governed by the law. Yet on the law pervading the cosmos can be considered a true law, and thus the cosmos is the only realcity. A city is also a dwelling-place - in the case of the cosmos, the dwelling-place of all human beings. Further, a city demarcates who belongs together as fellow-citizens. The thought that we should view all other human beings as belonging to us constitutes the core of Stoic cosmopolitanism. All human beings are citizens of the cosmic city in the sense of living in the world. But the demanding task of acquiring wisdom allows a person to become a citizen in the strictsense: someone who lives according to the law, as the gods do. The sage is the only citizen, relative, friend and free person; via these notions, the Stoics explore the political dimensions of the Stoic idea of wisdom. Vogt argues against two widespread interpretations of the common law - that itconsists of rules, and that lawful action is what right reason prescribes. While she rejects the rules-interpretation, she argues that the prescriptive reason-interpretation correctly captures key ideas of the Stoics' theory, but misses the substantive side of their conception of the law. The sage fully understands what is valuable for human beings, and this makes heractions lawful. The Stoics emphasize the revisionary nature of their theory; whatever course of action perfect deliberation commands, even if it be cutting off one's limb and eating it, we should act on its command, and not be held back by conventional judgments.

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The notions of the cosmic city and the common law are central to early Stoic political thought. As Vogt shows, together they make up one complex theory. A city is a place governed by the law. Yet on the law pervading the cosmos can be considered a true law, and thus the cosmos is the only realcity. A city is also a dwelling-place - in ...

Katja Maria Vogt is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. She is author of Belief and Truth (OUP, forthcoming).

other books by Katja Maria Vogt

Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.68 inPublished:April 15, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199922241

ISBN - 13:9780199922246

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The Disturbing Theses2. The Community of All Human Beings3. Wisdom: Sages and Gods4. Law and ReasonBibliographyIndex of Passages CitedGeneral Index

Editorial Reviews

"The author argues that the very scanty evidence about Zeno's Republic, if correctly understood, does not propose a framework for an actual city; rather it sets out what it would mean for someone to have wisdom (i.e. be virtuous, on the Stoic view): it would be to understand oneself as acitizen in the community of gods and men structured by the law constituted by perfect rationality. Her book thus aims to serve as a counterweight or alternative to Schofield's The Stoic Idea of the City." --Charles Brittain, Cornell University