Thursday, 8 May 2014

Martha Nussbaum on the Stoics

The therapy they have in mind is that you can’t really improve your life without understanding what’s worth valuing and what isn’t. It would have been better if everyone learned all this in the first place, but since, according to them, people live in a highly corrupt culture, they don’t learn right values, so they have to be given therapy, which consists in weaning them away from money, status, competitive goods of all sorts, and this will undo the damage of anger, jealousy and so on. All of that seems reasonable; it’s only when they take it so far that they say we should lose love of children, family and so on. There I part company with them. But it doesn’t mean their methods of weaning people away from unwise values is useless.
(from an interview with Martha Nussbaum:interview
This seems so profoundly wrong when we read the Meditations or Marcus Aurelius. The first section is a account of all that he owes his parents and teachers. It is quite fulsome and there is no lack of feeling that I can discern.

In her book Upheavals of Thought she writes:
The Greek and Roman stoics had no apparent interest in childhood nor did they ask how early experiences shape the mature emotional life
I don’t see how you could qualify that statement to make it accord with the Meditations cf. meditations

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