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Journal of the History of Philosophy, Volume 34, Number 3, July 1996,

pp. 335-356 (Article)

DOI: 10.1353/hph.1996.0061

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The Two Faces of Stoicism:
Rousseau and Freud

Nor do the Stoics mean that the soul o f their wisest man resists the first visions and
sudden fantasies that surprise [him]: but [he] rather consents that, as it were to a
natural subjection, he yields . . . . So likewise in other passions, always provided his
opinions remain safe and whole, a n d . . , his reason admit no tainting or alteration, and
he in no whit consents to his fright and sufferance.
Montaigne, Essays, I. 1

THE STOICS ARE A WEIGHTY EMBARRASSMENTto their f r i e n d s who, like myself,

w a n t to d e f e n d t h e m f r o m t h e c h a r g e s t h a t their views are at best v a g u e o r
l u d i c r o u s , p e r h a p s o f f e n s i v e o r inconsistent. T h e r e is n o d o u b t t h a t s o m e o f
their p r o n o u n c e m e n t s s e e m m a t e r i a l f o r A r i s t o p h a n i c c o m e d y , o t h e r s callous
a n d yet o t h e r s i n c o h e r e n t . A n d t h e r e is also n o d o u b t t h a t t h e y o p e n l y d e f y
c o m m o n sense a n d deliberately c h a n g e the t e r m i n o l o g y t h e y inherit, i n t r o d u c -
ing n e o l o g i s m s ad hoc. A n d yet, a n d y e t - - i t is n o a c c i d e n t that t h e y c o n t i n u e ,
rightly c o n t i n u e , to h a v e a p o w e r f u l h o l d o n o r d i n a r y belief a n d a c u t e philo-
sophical reflection.
H e r e - - i n w h a t is itself a p a r o d y - - a r e s o m e o f the c o m m o n p l a c e s famil-
iarly a t t r i b u t e d to t h e Stoics.'
First, the n o t o r i o u s m a t t e r o f Stoic apatheia. D i o g e n e s L a e r t i u s r e p o r t s t h a t

I believe, but cannot here argue, that despite the signficant differences between early,
middle and late Stoics, the classical Stoics shared a common agenda. It is for this reason that I
have licensed myself to refer to widely different texts, attempting as best I can to avoid pre-
judging my case. I think Aulus Gellius is right: "the fifth book of the Discourses of Epictetus... as
arranged by Arrian undoubtedly agreels] with the writings of Zeno and Chrysippus" (Attic Nights,
19. 1. x4). For a detailed discussion of Seneca's complex relation to the early Stoics, see Brad
Inwood, "Seneca and Psychological Dualism" in Jacques Brunschwig and Martha Nussbaum, eds.,
Passions and Perceptions (Cambridge, 1993). See also J. M. Rist, Stoic Philosophy (Cambridge, 1969),


the Stoics believe that "the wise m a n is apathes, without passions" (DL 7 . 1 1 4 -
2o). Seneca presents a stern interpretation o f this doctrine: " O u r people [the
Stoics] expel passions altogether; the Peripatetics m o d e r a t e them" (Sencca,
Letters 116.1). T h e virtuous man, t o r t u r e d o n the rack, having lost children
a n d friends, seeing his city destroyed and the activities o f his life come to
naught, can avail himself o f s o m e t h i n g - - h i s virtue, his rationality, his philo-
sophic activity; they are the s a m e - - t h a t secures his c o n t e n t m e n t (eudaimonia)
(Seneca, Letters, 92.3; Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 5 . 4 o - 4 l, 8 1 - 8 ~ ; LS 63
L,M). 2 But despite his apatheia, the sage is said to have general benign affec-
tions (eupatheiai): joy, friendliness, cheerfulness, piety, each o f which encom-
passes a r a n g e o f m o r e specific attitudes (DL 7.116; LS 65F).s H e is vigilant for
his i m p r o v e m e n t , he h o n o r s (sebesthai) his parents, is actively devoted to the
welfare o f his children (philostorgian), a n d - - a s his situation p e r m i t s - - t a k e s an
active part in politics (DL 7 . 1 1 7 - 1 8 , 1~o-~1; Cicero, De Fro. 3. 6 ~ - 6 8 ; LS
57F). How can he serve his parents and children without succumbing to the
host ofpathe that such devotion brings, or be active in politics without suffer-
ing grief?. How can we u n d e r s t a n d , let alone endorse, the a p p a r e n t callousness
o f a life focused o n its own virtue, u n m o v e d by the consequences o f the
natural activities that it is enjoined to follow, denying that the failures that
often attend t h e m are losses to oneself?4
Secondly, o b d u r a t e passions--fluttering agitations (ptoiaO that p r o m p t the
trouble and turmoil o f fruitless e n d e a v o r s - - a r e mistaken j u d g m e n t s that can
be corrected by revising the e r r o n e o u s beliefs that e n g e n d e r o r constitute
them. Instead o f suffering t h e m passively, we c a n - - a s we might s a y - -
"objectify" them, observing t h e m with equanimity, concentrating o n leading a
life o f austere virtue. But since passions are also physical states, correcting
t h e m seems to involve m o r e than changing one's mind. T h e Stoic sage must, it
seems, have a special kind o f constitution. Is his apatheia achieved once and f o r
all, o r is it an u n e n d i n g task? A n d if it is an u n e n d i n g task, is the achievement
o f sagacity merely postulated as the aim o f a notional project?5

t The abbreviation "LS" refers to The HellenisticPhilosophers,vols. i and 2, ed. A. A. Long and
David Sedley (Cambridge, 1987); the numbers and letters designate sections. I have relied heavily
on Long and Sedley's selections to refer me to the appropriate texts.
~Eupatheiai are generic and schematic: they include a wide range of subsidiary dispositional
attitudes. Filial respect embeds an active attentiveness to the welfare of one's parents as well as a
dutiful demeanor; civicphilia involves a wide range of active attitudes and dispositions towards
the decisions of one's fellow citizens: e.g., avoiding being a free rider.
4Superficially, tension appears even within the Stoic commonplaces: the bad man (phaulos) is
said to be apathes, callous and remorseless (DL 7-1 x7-~ 1).
s See J. M. Rist, "The Stoic Concept of Detachment," The Stoics(Universityof California Press,
1978); Martha Nussbaum, The Therapy of Desire (Princeton, 1994), Chaps. 7 and 8, esp. 35o-58;
Stephen A. White, "Cicero and the Therapists," unpublished manuscript.
Thirdly, happiness (eudaimonia) consists in living "in accordance with na-
t u r e . . , that is, living virtuously, in accordance with reason . . . . leading a life
engaged in active philosophic reflection ''6 (DL 7.87-89ff.; Stobaeus 2.75, i 1-
76, 8; LS 63 A-G). We become fully human, living according to our nature, in
the activity of philosophic reasoning, representing the structure of the cosmos
in a system o f interconnected true judgments, and living in accordance with the
precepts indicated by that understanding (Seneca, Letters, 76.9-1 o, 124.13-14;
Stobaeus 2.75, 11-76, 8; LS 63D, 6oH, 63B ). In view of the questionable virtue
of at least some stellar philosophers, and the evident misery of many, it should
not be necessary to dwell on the apparent oddities of this view.
I propose to offer a sympathetic, charitable reading of these embarrassing
ancient Stoic commonplaces, to show that the Stoic sage is not apathetic.7 To
be sure, constituted as he is, the common man (phaulos) will find the sage cold
and self-important; he won't choose him as a friend, s But that says more about
the phaulos than about the sage. The Stoic's question is: Is the wise man more
eudaimon--and more fortunate--than the common man? To make my case, I
must show how the sage's self-understanding--his knowledge of what is prop-
erly his own (oikeiosis)--transforms, without completely forming, his im-
pressions (phantasiai) and impulses (hormai).9 While the Stoics are ready to
acknowledge irrationality, folly, akrasia, error (how could they not?) they are
committed to explaining these phenomena within the bounds of a providen-
tially ordered cosmos and a unified rational mind. Like physical diseases, they
obey rather than violate nature. The appearance of irrationality has its own
rational explanation, and even its own rationale. (Intimations of Spinoza and

6See Gisela Striker, "Following Nature: A Study in Stoic Ethics," Oxford Studies in Ancient
Philosophy 9 (1991); J o h n Cooper, "Eudaimonism, the Appeal to Nature and 'Moral Duty'," in S.
Engstrom and J. Whiting, eds., Rethinking Duty and Happiness (Cambridge, 1996); Brad Inwood,
Ethics and Action in Early Stoicism (Oxford, 1985); and Philip Mitsis, "Seneca on Reason, Rules and
Moral Development," in Brunschwig and Nussbaum, eds., Passions and Perceptions.
7Although I shall sometimes move beyond a strict reading of the ancient texts, I intend my
interpretation to remain consistent with them. Because many texts are indeterminate on issues
that only emerged in later philosophic contexts, commentators--from the earliest times until
n o w - - h a v e disagreed about the positions that various Stoics take on them. Differences about the
relations among phantasiai, pathe, and hormai do not affect the generic account of the rational
psychology of the Stoic sage.
T o give their point a rhetorical flourish, the early Stoics dramatized the contrast between the
phaulos and the sophos. But the force of the Stoic position would be lost if the sage were a god and
the fool either a bad man or a driveling idiot, who gets everything wrong, in every sense of the
word. T h e "fool" is an ordinary common man, un homme moyen sensuel, who misunderstands his
place in the cosmos; and god-like though the sage may ideally be projected to be, he has a h u m a n
body. Because I believe the important contrast--the one that gives the Stoics the most plausible
claim--makes the phaulos defective without forthwith making him vicious or crazy, I shall (for the
most part) refer to him as the common man or as the ordinary man.
oSee Troels Engberg-Pedersen, The Stoic Theory ofOikeiosis (Aarhus, Denmark, t99o ).
338 J O U R N A L OF T H E H I S T O R Y OF P H I L O S O P H Y 3 4 : 3 JULY 1996
Freud.) But Stoic self-knowledge--an understanding of what is essentially
important to one's nature--is by no means merely an intellectual matter: it
permeates, and is expressed throughout, a person's character, in his phantasiai,
his impulses and actions. Much is at stake in this program: making the world
safe for knowledge and making it safe for virtue--the denial of (what we,
though not the ancients, would call) epistemological and moral skepticism--
are one and the same project (LS 63C ). The Stoics think this project requires
revising our ordinary conceptions of knowledge and virtue; if we are to under-
stand them, we must trace and follow those revisions.
Having defended some of the doctrines of the ancient Stoics, I shall sketch
some of their transformed reappearances. Rather than concentrating on Spi-
noza and Kant--whose indebtedness to ancient Stoicism is a p p a r e n t - - I want
to show how Rousseau and Freud each adapted Stoic doctrines for radically
different sorts of therapeutic purposes. In doing so, they e n d a n g e r e d - -
perhaps even u n d e r m i n e d - - s o m e of the most fundamental directions of early
Stoicism. But they did so by working through--I use the Freudian term
advisedly--their inheritance.
Since the Stoics' recommendations for a well-formed, wise life have their
sources in their understanding of human n a t u r e - - o f man's place in n a t u r e - -
we must begin with the generic metaphysics that underwrites their precepts
for the role of apatheia in a eudaimon life. The cosmos is a self-sufficient and
self-sustaining living organism, forming a logically ordered system, one that is
reflected in the rational unity of the human mind. l~ Imbued with reason,
suffused with divinities, it is, according to Zeno, the substance (onsia) of God.
(See DL 7.138-39, 142-43, 146-49; Cicero, De Natura Deorum, ~.37-39,
~.75-76, 2.88; LS 54 H, L, M, N; Plutarch, On Stoic Self-Contradictions, lo44D;
LS 540.) (Intimations of Spinoza.) Although its "parts" (mere) attempt to pre-
serve their own natures, they are not self-contained, complete, or indepen-
dent: they are disposed "in accordance with that [the disposition] of the
whole" (kata ten ton holon; DL 7.88). As we might put it, the individuals that
compose the cosmos are individuated and organized by their functional roles
in maintaining the order of the whole.
The first and reigning impulse (horme) of each individual living t h i n g - -
including the cosmos as an organic whole--is to preserve itself. (See DL 7.85
[LS 57A]; DL 7.87-89, i48-49; Cicero, De Fin. 3.16-2o; Seneca, Letters
121.24 .H) The constitutions (status, snstasis) of animals are naturally well-

~~ F. H. Sandbach,The Stoics, Chaps. 4 and 6 (London, 1975); S. Sambursky,Physicsof the

Stoics (Princeton, 1987), esp. Chaps. i and 4; R. B. Todd, "Monismand Immanence,"Michael
Lapidge, "StoicCosmology,"and Margaret Reesor, "Necessityand Fatein StoicPhilosophy,"all in
J. M. Rist, The Stoics.
~ See Inwood,Ethics and Human Action, Chaps. 3 and 6, esp. 45ff.,Appendices 1, 2, 4-
f o r m e d : the directions o f their self-preserving activities are providentially
objectively sound. I n m o v i n g to its self-preservation, each animal typically
rejects w h a t is objectively h a r m f u l a n d accepts what is objectively a p p r o p r i a t e
to it. A c c o r d i n g to Diogenes Laertius, C h r y s i p p u s held that n a t u r e a p p r o p r i -
ates it f r o m the b e g i n n i n g a n d fully m a k e s it its own (oikeiouses auto tes physeoos
ap'arches; D L 7.85; LS 57A). Superficially, it m i g h t seem as if early Stoic
doctrine was discretely a m b i g u o u s between (l) the claim that the o r d e r o f the
cosmos is a function o f the interactions o f each individual's natural self-
sustaining e n d e a v o r , its impulses a p p r o p r i a t e to its own best functioning, with
cosmic o r d e r e m e r g i n g as a function o f the activities o f its parts, a n d (2) the
claim that N a t u r e is the providential h i d d e n h a n d that controls the a p p a r e n t l y
a u t o n o m o u s e n d e a v o r o f individuals, their activities being functionally a p p r o -
priate to the s e l f - m a i n t e n a n c e o f cosmic Nature-as-an-organic-whole. (See DL
7.148ff? ~)
T h e Stoic c o n c e p t i o n o f the providential o r d e r (pronoia) o f the cosmos recon-
ciles the two interpretations. Providentially, the cosmos is so s t r u c t u r e d that
what serves individual functioning is also a p p r o p r i a t e to n a t u r e ' s own self-
sustaining activity; a n d the animal's self-preserving impulses (horme)--its living
a c c o r d i n g to its n a t u r e - - j u s t / s its m o d e o f b e i n g functionally c o n n e c t e d to the
rest o f nature. Logos is the articulate a n d articulable structure o f the physical
cosmos: i t / s the world, n a t u r e seen as rationally o r d e r e d . (See DL 7 . 8 5 - 8 8 ,
7 - 1 3 4 - 4 ~ 7 - 1 4 2 - 4 7 ; Plutarch, Moralia [Loeb, vol. 13], pt. ~, 1o54, 43 ? 3) Stretch-
ing an analogy, we m i g h t say that logos is the semantically sensitive syntactical
s t r u c t u r e o f the cosmos: it reveals, articulates, the way that the parts c o h e r e in a
w e l l - f o r m e d whole; a n d divinity j u s t is the effective craftsmanlike activity o f the
world s t r u c t u r i n g itself. (In Aristotelian terms, logos is the f o r m a l cause o f the
cosmos; divinity is the efficient cause o f its o r d e r ; its final cause is cosmic self-
preservation. T h e t h r e e are extensionally identical with the activity o f the physi-
cal substance that constitutes the world.) T h e Stoics see no p u z z l e - - a n d also no

"Political theory has, ever since Plato, attempted to characterize the institutions that could
reconcile individual and political thriving. Since he appears not to have been primarily interested in
political issues, Chrysippus seems to have ignored the possibility that these might command differ-
ent policies. (See DL 7.88-89.) His circumspect ambiguity becomes an open scandal with the
Stoicism of Rousseau and Freud: and it provides a central divisiveissue between those seventeenth-
and eighteenth-century political theorists--Hobbes, Mandeville, and Adam Smith vs. Spinoza, late
Kant, and Hegel--who used the Stoic theory of the cosmos as a model for political order.
,s Seventeenth-century natural philosophers turned a vague Stoic program into hard-core
science. Mechanistic physics analyses some aspects of the Stoic notion of cosmic logos:individuals
attempt to preserve their ratio of motion and rest until they are overwhelmed by forces stronger
than their own (Intimations of Spinoza). Nature/the cosmos is described as a providential and
even benevolent divinity, whose actions are fully expressed immanently in the compensatory
adjustments of the motion and change of the entities that constitute the cosmos. (Intimations of
Newton's remark that space is God's sensorium.)
mysticism--in saying that the cosmos is immanently teleological, a self-
contained, self-preserving organic whole whose divinities are internally perva-
sive. In speaking of the logical order and immanent divinity of the cosmos, the
Stoics do not intend to introduce any new ontological baggage in their physi-
calistic ontology. Nor do they intend to deny what seems to us, positioned as we
are, defective or bad. According to Plutarch, Chrysippus held that "kakia [what
is harmful, defective, or d i s g u s t i n g ] . . , occur[s] in accordance with the logos of
nature . . . . It [kak/a] cannot be removed completely, nor is it right that it should
be removed" (Plutarch, On Stoic Self-Contradictions, l o 5 o F , 10 5 1 A - B ; LS 61R).
It is an ontological given without demonstration that cosmic soul (psyche) is
a subtle physical body--breath (pneuma, sp/r/tus)--that pervades the whole o f
the cosmos. Although human beings are simply parts of this physical cosmos,
they are nevertheless god-like, capable of participating in "right reason," the
orthos logos that represents the activity of an all-pervading divinity. H u m a n
souls are part of the cosmic soul, a part that providentially can grasp (or
reflectively understand: two metaphors are used) the logical structure of the
world of which they are only a part. (See LS 44 F, 45C-D, 46H, 47N-P, 53 F, G.)
According to Cleanthes, "soul penetrates through the whole universe, and we
by sharing in it as a part are ensouled."14 Although it is physically particular, a
rational soul is capable o f understanding its function in the whole, taking "its
own" self-preservation as properly determined by that of "the whole."
Individual minds--parts of cosmic m i n d - - a r e self-maintaining systems,
capable of representing the cosmos as a rational, logically coherent structure.
Providential nature assures that the different functions of the m i n d - - t h e
"work" (erga) of its "parts" (mere): sensing, assenting, impulsively moving,
reasoning--for a unified whole. (See Aetius 4.21, 1-4 [LS 53H]; Stobaeus
1.368, 12-3o [LS 53K]~5). The mind receives impressions (phantas/a/)--
affections (pathe) that are traces of the way objects appear or represent them-
selves to us, constituted and situated as we are. (See Aetius 4.12.1- 5 [LS 39B];
DL 45-46; Epictetus, Discourses, 3.3.2-4 [LS 6oF].) An impression (phantasia)
not only "comes from a real object"; it can, under appropriate circumstances,
also be "in accord with [that object]" and "agree with [it]" (DL 7.46, 5o [LS 39A];
SE 7.247-5a [LS 39E]). ~6 The phantasiai of rational beings are conceptualized

~4Cleanthes apud Hermias (Diels, dox Grae 654 9 = Arnim 1.495), quoted by Julia Annas,
HellenisticPhilosophy(Universityof CaliforniaPress, 199a),43-
lsSee Julia Annas, Hellenistic Philosophy of Mind (Berkeley, 1992), 115-5o; Brad Inwood,
Ethics and Human Action, esp. 29ff.; and AnthonyPrice, Mattal Conflict (1994/5), chap. 4.
,6Unlikephant~mam--dreamimagesor illusionsthat do not represent or reveal their causes
and objects--phantas/aithat are conveyedthrough sense organs are perceptions (aestheseis) (DL
7.5a); others--rational representationsand notions(noeseis)likejustice and goodness(DL 7.53)--
are received directlyby the mind. As we might say,they refer to relationsamongstates of affairs
rather than to states of affairs.

(/og/kai), as we m i g h t say, " u n d e r a d e s c r i p t i o n " (ennoiai; LS 39F), a p t f o r b e i n g

l i n g u i s t i c a l l y a r t i c u l a t e d a n d , as s u c h , c a p a b l e o f b e i n g i n c l u d e d w i t h i n a c o h e r -
e n t s y s t e m o f t h o u g h t . (See D L 7.49; SE Against the Logicians, ~.69-73, 2 7 5 - 7 6 ;
Against the Professors, 8.70. ) W h e n t h e r e is n o i m p e d i m e n t o r a b n o r m a l i t y , a
r a t i o n a l m i n d f o r t h w i t h a s s e n t s to s e l f - e v i d e n t l y t r u s t w o r t h y , c l e a r a n d d i s t i n c t
i m p r e s s i o n s (phantasia kataleptike) a n d to t h e i m p u l s e s t h e y f o r m . (See SE,
Against the Logicians, 1.252-6o. ) ( I n t i m a t i o n s o f D e s c a r t e s . ) I n d e e d , w h e n p r o p -
erly apprehended, such clear and distinct impressions are the raw materials--
t h e p r e c o n c e p t i o n s (prolepsis)--from w h i c h k n o w l e d g e e m e r g e s . A l t h o u g h t h e y
d o n o t t h e m s e l v e s q u a l i f y as k n o w l e d g e (episteme), t h e y p r o v i d e t h e c r i t e r i o n b y
r e f e r e n c e to w h i c h k n o w l e d g e - c l a i m s a r e tested.~7 (See D L 7.54; SE 7 . 2 3 5 - 6 0 ;
M 248, 4 0 3 - 4 0 8 ; L S 39 K, 4 o K . ) I t is p o s s i b l e to a s s e n t to a t r u e p r o p o s i t i o n
( a x i o m ) w i t h o u t b e i n g a b l e to d e m o n s t r a t e it, b u t a p e r s o n o n l y q u a l i f i e s as
h a v i n g k n o w l e d g e (e/r/sterne) w h e n h e c a n s u p p o r t it w i t h w e l l - f o r m e d r e a s o n s
(logoi).~s S e x t u s r e p o r t s t h e Stoics as h o l d i n g t h a t " t h e fool, t h e m a d m a n a n d t h e

'~ Partly because commentators disagree about how best to interpret virtually all crucial terms,
they disagree about the sense in which phantasiai kataleptikai provide the self-evident criterion for
truth. If veridical phantasiai kataleptikai are transparently self-evident, then the mind can in princi-
ple suspend affirming phantasmata. But ifphantasiai kataleptikai are not self-evidendy distinguish-
able from phantasmata, the sage needs a procedure for avoiding error, a procedure which seems to
require his having the whole system of knowledge. Commentators also disagree about whether
phantasiai command assent and impulse, whether hormai automatically move to the beginning of
action, and on whether anything short of complete knowledge qualifies as knowledge. These
disputes will of course affect their interpretations of the sense in which the sage can, by control-
ling assent, avoid having pathe. See F. Sandbach, "Ennoia and Prolepsis in the Stoic Theory of
Knowledge," and "Phantasia kataleptike" in A. A. Long, ed., Problems m Stoicism (London, 1970,
and his "The Stoics' Distinction between Truth and the True," in J. Brunschwig, ed., Les Stofciens
et leur Logique (Paris, 1978); John Dillon, "Metriopatheia and Apatheia: Some Reflections on Contro-
versy in Later Greek Ethics," in J. P. Anton and A. Preus, eds., Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy,
vol. 2 (Albany, 1983); G. R. Kerferd, "The Problem of Sunkatathesis and Katalepsis," and Michael
Frede, "Stoics and Sceptics on Clear and Distinct Impressions," Essaysm Ancient Philosophy(Minne-
apolis, 1987); Julia Annas, The Morality of Happiness, Ch. 3, and her "Stoic Epistemology" in S.
Everson, ed., Ancient Epistemology (Cambridge, 199o); Gisela Striker, "The Problem of the Crite-
rion," in Everson, ed., Ancient Epistemology; and John Cooper, "Posidonius on Emotion," in T.
Engberg-Pedersen and J. Sihvola, eds., Hellenistic Theories of the Emotions, forthcoming. I believe,
but cannot here argue, that these interpretive differences do not affect my account of the com-
plex character of apathe/a.
~SThe Stoics appear to be committed to--or to waver between--a foundationalist and a
coherentist model of rationality. On the one hand, complex truth claims are demonstrated by
tracing their logical derivation from the phantasiai hataloptikai that provide the criteria for truth.
But strictly speaking it seems that there is no knowledge short of an understanding of the entire
system of interconnected propositions. But the Stoics apparendy also retain remnants of a Pla-
tonic account of truth: the doctor is said not to be lying when he deliberately says something false
as part of his therapeutic strategy; the grammarian is not "guilty of bad grammar when he gives
an example of a solecism"; and the sage can speak falsely, when he has a sound justification for
doing so. (See SE M 49-45 .)
342 JOURNAL OF T H E H I S T O R Y OF P H I L O S O P H Y 34:3 JULY a996
child can say something true, but they do not possess knowledge of the truth"
(SE M 1.38ff.).
The commanding part of the soul (hegemonikon) has a double description.
On the one hand, as ether (aithera), it is part of the physical cosmos that affects
the motions of the sense organs and the heart. (See DL 7-134, 138-39; Sextus
Empiricus, Against the Professors, 9.75-76 [LS 44 B, C].) As engaged in reason-
ing (dianoia, cogitatio), the ruling part of the mind (hegemonikon) moves to truth.
As engaged in action, the hegimonikon moves to what it apprehends as good.
(See Epictetus, Discourses 3.3.~-4 [LS 6oF].~9) The virtue of each individual
consists in the skillful exercise of his ergon--his function, his work--in keep-
ing the cosmos well-ordered. ~~ In following cosmic logos, the mind expresses
its nature, acting from what is properly "its own. T M
In the best circumstances, the Stoic sage is not a recluse: he is--as his place
c o m m a n d s - - a n active citizen, counselor, father and son, engaged in the proper
duties of these activities, as reason rather than convention commands. (See DL
7-ao7, 13o; Cicero, De Finibus, 3.58-59; Seneca, Letters, 9 ~. 11; LS 64J. 22) (Inti-

'9"Soul's movements are of two kinds: one belongs to thought, the other to impulse. T h e
sphere of thought is principally the investigation of truth, while impulse is the stimulus to action.
So we must take care to use thought for the best possible objects, and to make impulse obedient to
reason" (Cicero, De Officiis i. 132 [LS 53F-H, J, Q]).
'~ disagree about how to interpret the view that virtue is both knowledge
(episteme) and a skill (techne). (See Stobaeus 2.63, 6-24; LS 61D.) Does this mean that the Stoic sage
must have a theory of h u m a n nature? Can the sage's knowledge--his maxims--be implicit in what
he does? I believe but cannot here argue that the Stoic project is not affected by the fact that the
texts underdetermine the answers to these questions. See Annas, The Morality of Happiness, 388ff.;
I nwood, Ethics and Human Action, 2o 1ff.; Striker, "Virtue as a Craft," 24ff. and "Antipater, or the
Art of Living"; Troels Engberg-Pedersen, "Discovering the Good," in M. Schofield and G. Striker,
eds., The Norms of Nature (Cambridge, 1986); A. A. Long, "The Early Stoic Concept of Moral
Choice," in Images of Man in Ancient and Modern Thought (Louvain, 1976); and Terence Irwin,
"Socratic Paradox and Stoic Theory," in S. Everson, ed., Ethics, forthcoming.
" T h e early Stoics seem to have thought that the activity of the hegemonikon in following logos
is, like everything else, a function of the movements of the physical world; but Cicero and
Epictetus intimate that this is the one faculty that the gods have put in our power (LS 53J, 62 K).
This might mean that "what is up to us" is a function of the activity of our constitutions; or it might
mean that we are capable of at least one kind of unconditioned activity. Read one way, these views
seem familiar to readers of Kant; read another, they are nearly incomprehensible. We are asked
to take seriously the idea that soul is a physical entity, a very refined breath that courses through
the world as well through our bodies; that the m i n d - - t h e ruling power of the soul--is somehow
diffused through the cosmos; that the basic motions of the mind are physical expansions and
contractions; a n d that our thoughts and impulses just are these expansions and contractions.
Stunned by the unintelligibility of these views, we should reflect that it may be only familiarity that
allows us to accept the equally mind-boggling claims of reductive neuroscientists who analyze
thought and action in terms derived from biochemistry and electromagnetic physics. As Richard
Bett put it to me: alternatively, familiarity with these modern views may help to make Stoicism
seem less unintelligible.
2, See Malcolm Schofield, The Stoic Idea of the City (Cambridge, 1991 ).
mations of Bradley.) When the judgments of the sage are embedded in the
reasons that support them, his impulses (hormai) are directed to their proper
objects, as they serve and constitute what is genuinely "his own." Rather than
automatically attempting to preserve his bodily existence as such, he protects it
as supporting the rational activity that defines him. (See Cicero, De Finibus,
3.21-23. ) Since he takes his own welfare to be directed by what conduces to that
of the whole, the good of the cosmos not only overrules but also transforms his
original, naive hormai. But the sage also recognizes that those original hormai--
e.g., hunger and avoidance of pain--also serve him well: they are, after all, the
products of a providential cosmos. (See Cicero, De Off. 1.132 [LS 53J] and
Epictetus 1.1. 7, 1.6.13-2o, 2.1.4, 2.22.29, 4.6.34 ..3)
With this material in hand, we are ready to turn to defending the Stoic claim,
saving the sense in which the Stoic sage d o e s - - a n d yet does not--have passions.
There are three criteria for the identification and individuation of pathe: (1)
They are, as are all psychological states, specific physical conditions--swellings,
shrinkings, flutterings that are the beginnings of motion. (See Plutarch, On
Moral Virtue, 446F-447A; Galen, PHP 4.2. l o - 1 8 [LS 65G,J. ) (2) They are weak
(i.e., ungrounded, irrational) opinions (doxai) that carry assent. (3) They are
excessive impulses (horme) that resist correction by reason. (See Stobaeus
2.88,8-9o,6; Galen, PHP 4.2. lo-~8, 4.5.2 ~-25 [LS 65 A,C,L].) Ahhoughpathe
are predicated of the hegemonikon, they are also identical with specific physical
conditions. (Intimations of Descartes.) Because the tendency to assent to and act
on an u n f o u n d e d opinion can vary independently of the strength of its confir-
mation, there is no inconsistency in characterizing pathe as weak opinions and as
strong impulses.*4 Given these definitions, the Stoic claim that the sage has no
passions seems at first sight trivial and uninteresting: since the sage is guided by
reason, his opinions are sound, and the impulses that attend his beliefs will
therefore not be excessive or irrational. But the Stoics' claim is stronger, more
interesting, and correspondingly apparently more readily contestable than a
view that emerges, with very little ado, from their definitions.
The sage can, without endangering his rationality, have the physical reac-
tions t h a t - - h a d they been the responses of a common man (phaulos)--would
function as passions. It is the functional role of a psychological state--its

~3Cited by A. A. Long in S. Everson, ed., Psychology (Cambridge University Press, 1991 ). Also
see Gisela Striker, "The Role of Oikeiosis in Stoic Ethics," Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy l
(1983). Despite their view that the cosmos forms a system of deterministic internal relations, Stoics
appear to be committed to an implicit essentialism of hierarchically defined natural kinds and
even of natural activities.
24See Hume on the difference between weak/strong, calm/violent, indirect/direct passions,
Treatise II.I. 1; Descartes, Meditation IV, AT VII, 56-62; and A. C. Lloyd, "Emotion and Decision
in Stoic Psychology," in Rist, ed., The Stoics.
344 JOURNAL OF T H E H I S T O R Y OF P H I L O S O P H Y 34:3 JULY 1996
etiology and consequences--rather than its intrinsic character that identifies it
as a pathos. The sage and the common man are, at a generic level, constituted
alike. Both observe and follow natural necessity, both attempt to preserve
(what they take to be essential to) their lives; their primitive hormai are alike
naturally providentially well-designed to protect bodily functioning; both as-
sent to their phantasiai kataleptikai; the phantasiai of the sage, like those of the
ordinary man (phaulos), corrigibly represent the effect of some part of the
world on him, situated as he is. (See DL 7.46.) Like the ordinary man, the sage
has perceptual illusions, hallucinations and reflex motions; like the ordnary
man, he is, intitially at least, moved by hunger, exhaustion and sexual arousal,
with all the standard physical swellings, shrinkings and heavy breathing appro-
priate to those conditions. (See Seneca, De Ira, 2.1-4, esp. 2.3.1-~.4 [LS
65X].~5) And while the sage may not run from a charging bull in a panic of
fear, he does run in haste, seeing the danger of a slow dignified retreat when it
is appropriate for him to preserve his life.
To be sure, the thick intentional descriptions of the thoughts and actions
of the sage differ from those of the common man whose phantasiai and hormai
are partial in both senses of that word. Fragmented and incomplete, per-
spectivally distorted, illusory phantasmata can mislead the fool. But although
the fool can be mistaken about what is important and valuable, many of his
phantasiai and hormai are, as far as they go, correct and well-formed. He'd
hardly survive if they were not. (See Plutarch, reporting Chrysippus in On
Stoic Self-Contradictions, lo46E-F [LS 61F].) By contrast to the perfect pitch of
the sage, the common man might be said to be tone-deaf rather than deaf,
color-blind rather than blind. What is distorted and partial in the psychology
of the ordinary man is complete and whole in that of the sage. ~6 His
psychology--his attitudes and actions--are shaped by his functional role in a
well-structured cosmos. No matter how dehydrated he is, the sage doesn't
rush to drink what (even to him) appears to be water on the horizon: he
understands that his phantasiai express the "general laws" of optical phenom-
ena. The intentional description of his activity--the character of his actions--
includes his understanding of the providential role of hunger, exhaustion,
reflex actions and sexuality in preserving the cosmic order.~7 Rather than

9s Gellius reports that Epictetus thought that the sage might be surprised--say in f e a r - - a n d
temporarily assent to an u n g r o u n d e d opinion, but he would quickly recall himself and withdraw his
assent. (See Attic Nights 19. x; Epictetus, fr. 9.) See also Inwood, Ethics and Human Action, 177-78.
96 See Irwin, "Socratic Paradox and Stoic Theory," forthcoming, for an analysis of the Stoic
distinction between the end or goal (telos, finis) and the objective (proke/men0n, propositum) of an
action. See also Striker, "Antipater," in Schofield and Striker, eds., The Norms of Nature.
,7 T h e r e is little evidence that the ancient Stoics developed an account of the kind of implicit
assent to implicit judgments required by their psychology and epistemology. See C. Gill, "Is T h e r e
a Concept of a Person in Greek Psychology?" in Everson, ed., Psychology, esp. 184-93; also his
reacting passively, he acts f r o m his u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f his place in the natural
But if the sage looks like a fool, sometimes seems to act like a fool, in what
sense is he not a fool? What does the sage know that the ordinary m a n does
not; and what does the o r d i n a r y man believe that the sage does not? 28 T h e
o r d i n a r y man's e r r o r s - - h i s waywardness--all spring f r o m the same source:
he is mistaken a b o u t what is genuinely valuable because he does not u n d e r -
stand who and what he is. In moving naturally to preserve what he takes as his
own (oikeosis), his impulses (hormaz) are often misdirected to preserve or ac-
quire things that are not f u n d a m e n t a l l y i m p o r t a n t to his nature. It is in this
sense, r a t h e r than because he moves in a frenzied m a n n e r , that the c o m m o n
man's impulses are excessive. Because he has an inadequate conception o f
himself, he will miss the p r o p e r i m p o r t a n c e of the contributory goods o f l i f e - -
to sex, wealth, o r p o w e r - - w e i g h i n g them m o r e but also often less than is
a p p r o p r i a t e to his nature.29
By contrast, the sage can be a m o r e actively devoted citizen and father than
the c o m m o n man. T h o u g h he is indifferent to m u c h that moves the o r d i n a r y
man, he c a n - - k n o w i n g the erosive effects o f p o v e r t y - - a t t e m p t to preserve
and even enlarge the family p r o p e r t y , doing so with alacrity, f r o m a just
assessment o f the n e e d for reasonable security, r a t h e r than f r o m competition
or greed. Rational sagacity can a d o p t austere policies: a sage j u d g e can ratio-
nally and justly c o n d e m n a criminal to severe p u n i s h m e n t when doing so best
serves the interests o f the city; he can counsel harsh measures in war, acting
f r o m a rational assessment o f the most effective course r a t h e r than f r o m pain-
r i d d e n r e v e n g e at the enemy's unjust injuries to his city. (See Seneca, De Ira,
1.16.7, 2.3.1-2.4; Gellius 9 . 1 . 1 7 - 1 8 [Epictetus, ft. 9], [LS 65Y].) (Intimations
o f Kant.) I f he lives in tyranny or is mortally ill, suicide may provide the only
scope for rational action. (See DL 7.13o [LS 66H]; Cicero, On Ends, 3.6o-61
[LS 66G].)
T h e distinction between acting rationally and moving f r o m a pathos-ridden
impulse d e p e n d s o n the agent's role in constituting what he does. A n d this, in
turn, d e p e n d s on his conception o f "what is his own." T h e distinction between

"Peace of Mind and Being Yourself," in W. Haase and H. Temporini, eds., Rise and Decline of the
Ancient World (Berlin, 1994), "Ethical Reflection and the Shaping of Character," ms. See also B.
Inwood, "Seneca and PsychologicalDualism," in Brunschwig and Nussbaum, eds., Pass/ons and
Perceptior~; and Richard Bett, "Carneades' Distinctionbetween Assent and Approval," TheMonist
73 099o) 9
,s See G. B. Kerferd, "What Does the Stoic Sage Know?"in Rist, ed., The Stoics.
,9 See Troels Engberg-Pedersen, "Stoic Philosophy and the Concept of a Person," in C. Gill,
The Personand the Human Mind (Oxford, 1985); Striker, "The Role of O/ke/os/sin Stoic Ethics"; and
A. A. Long, "Representation and the Self in Stoicism," in S. Everson, ed., Ancient Philosophy of
Mind (Cambridge, 1991).
346 JOURNAL OF T H E HISTORY OF P H I L O S O P H Y 3 4 : 3 JULY 1 9 9 6
activity a n d passivity is not a distinction between two classes o f psychological o r
physical states; it is r a t h e r a distinction b e t w e e n two ways o f characterizing the
functional role o f a n y state. T h e sage is distinguished f r o m the o r d i n a r y m a n
by his s e l f - u n d e r s t a n d i n g , by his recognition o f his place in the cosmos. (See
DL 7 . 8 5 - 8 9 ; Cicero, De Off. Unlike the c o m m o n m a n , the sage
knows that his physical constitution can expose him to epistemological d a n g e r ,
a n d that even a rational p e r s o n can briefly find himself with the weak opinions
o f a fool. I n d e e d he can rationally assent to just those impulses which would in
the o r d i n a r y m a n be partial passions, d o i n g so f r o m an u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f the
hierarchical s t r u c t u r e o f permissible a n d i n s t r u m e n t a l goods.a~
Because the j u d g m e n t s (axiomata) to which he assents are b r o a d e r a n d m o r e
soundly b a s e d t h a n those to which the c o m m o n m a n assents, the full intentional
descriptions o f his pathe d i f f e r f r o m those o f the c o m m o n man.~ ~ T h e o r d i n a r y
m a n says: " I ' m h u n g r y , here's a delectable apple," a n d he reaches f o r it. T h e
sage says: " I ' m h u n g r y ; providentially, that's typically a reliable sign that it's
time to eat; a n d since t h e r e are no countervailing indications or o v e r r i d i n g
reasons, that's a g o o d r e a s o n to eat; here's a n o u r i s h i n g apple," a n d he reaches
f o r it. H e r e g a r d s those psychophysical states as no m o r e - - a n d no l e s s - -
essentially h/s t h a n the pain o f the w o u n d that he attends or the shiver o f a f e v e r
that he m u s t cure. I n s t e a d o f treating himself as a d i s e m b o d i e d hegemonikon that
bears no effective relation to a specific body, the sage sees that his psychophysi-
cal states are natural p h e n o m e n a , towards which he bears a special two-way
relation.33 It is, a f t e r all, the b o d y whose modifications are his sensations, the
b o d y t h a t he responsibly feeds a n d exercises. H e stands as an internalized physi-
cian to that body, taking its c o n d i t i o n s - - h u n g e r , fever, sexual a r o u s a l - - a s
providential signs that, b a r r i n g better j u d g m e n t , m i g h t reasonably direct his
actions. A n d if, constituted as he is, the sage briefly begins the motions o f
shocked fearful flight in battle, he can r e f r a i n f r o m assenting to t h e m , while
also u n d e r s t a n d i n g that such reflex r e a c t i o n s - - l i k e blinking, belching, sneez-
ing, h i c c u p i n g - - h a v e p r o p e r natural functions. (See Seneca, De Ira, 2 . 2 . 3 -
2.2.6, 2.32-2.3.5. ) (Intimations o f the Pauline Letters a n d Augustine.34) T h e

soSee Long, "Representation and the Self in Stoicism," in Everson, ed., Psychology.
s~See T. H. Irwin, "Virtue, Praise and Success," The Monist 099o); N. White, "Stoic Value,"
The Monist (199o), and his "The Basis of Stoic Ethics," Harvard Studies m ClassicalPhilology(1979)-
s~For a discussion of the gradual draining hupexairesisof the passions, see SE N.8.479, 595.41.
ss See A. A. Long, "Soul and Body in Stoicism," Phronesis(1982).
s4Whether that normative direction is open to every human being is, of course, a vexed
question. The early Stoics clearly thought that there were few if any sages; and that whether an
individual was capable of becoming a sage--whether he could, in the first seven years of his life,
develop the basis for his rationality--depended on his physical constitution, his place in the
cosmos. Some of the later Stoics--Panaetius, for example--were evidendy prepared to extend
the conditions and qualifications for sagacity, even relativizing them to the stages in a person's life.
Stoic insistence o f the unity o f the virtues and o f rational mind is nevertheless
fully preserved. T h e m i n d o f the sage is not divided into parts or layers, n o r
does the hegemonikon act as a coercive ruler, controlling or dominating wayward
impulses. While he doesn't a p p r o p r i a t e his passions at face value, he is also not
alienated f r o m them. His pathe and impulses are informatively r e d i r e c t e d by
"all things considered" j u d g m e n t s . U n d e r s t a n d i n g the etiology and functions
o f his constitutional tendencies, he identifies with the natural and providential
patterns that are expressed in t h e m r a t h e r than with his f r a g m e n t a r y reactions.
(See Cicero, De Off. 1.11-12.3~) (Intimations o f Spinoza.)
This time, the a p p a r e n t tautology that a rational man is not irrational
carries an implicit normative direction: virtue requires a special kind o f reflec-
tive philosophic rationality. (See Epictetus 1.1.7, 1.6.t 3, 2.1.1-8.) In what,
then, does the sage's virtue and rationality consist? Minimally, philosophy is a
discipline that c o m m a n d s both a subject matter and an intellectual skill: it
includes logic, dialectic,, physics, ethics. (See LS 26.) But Stoic philosophy is
practical as well as theoretical.a 6 (See Seneca, Letters, 95. lO-12, 61, 63--64 [LS
66J].) For him, philosophy is not a kind o f thinking, one a m o n g others. T h e
sage's philosophic thinking pervades all his experience; all his activities reflect
his systematic, "all things considered" thinking. Properly considered, philoso-
phy is thinking-of-a-kind, thought-itself, life-expressed-in-reflection. (See Sen-
eca, Letters, 89, 9o). (Intimations o f Spinoza.) Technical philosophy is a disci-
pline, a p r e p a r a t i o n for continuous active reflection in the detailed, endless
praxis-oriented task o f u n d e r s t a n d i n g nature, how it works in and t h r o u g h us,
and what, in the e n d it requires o f us, as the beings we are. (See Plutarch, On
Moral Progress, 75 C [LS 61S], On Common Notions, l o 6 3 A - B [LS 61T]). In
taking the providential character o f n a t u r e as a guide, the sage follows his
j u d g m e n t about what is best to do, on the overriding condition that it is also
what best suits the world, in the long run, all things considered.a7 It is an
embarrassing f e a t u r e o f both ancient and m o d e r n Stoic doctrine that the time
span that functions as the base measure o f rational organization remains

Whether an individual can follow the normative directions of nature is itself--as Cicero reports
(DeFinibu~3.60-61 [LS 66G])--determined by natural forces. If a sage is so overwhelmed that he
can no longer think rationally, he is in a sense essentiallyalready dead. In committing suicide, he
exercises the remnants of rationality that are available to him. (See DL 7-13~ [LS 66H].)
35See Inwood, "Seneca and PsychologicalDualism"; Price, Mental Conflict, 145-75; and Irwin,
"Socratic Paradoxes and Stoic Theory."
36In this, the Stoics are the true inheritors of Socrates: behavior is the test of sagacity. Only
those who act wiselyqualify as wise. I am grateful to Julia Annas for letting me see the manuscript
of her paper "Is Plato a Stoic?" which will be delivered at the APA, December 1996.
37Here again, the Stoics are elusive about the time-span for measuring what best suits cosmic
harmony "in the long run."
34 8 J O U R N A L OF T H E H I S T O R Y OF P H I L O S O P H Y 3 4 : 3 JULY x996

With this charitable reading o f ancient Stoic views ofpathe and apatheia in
hand, we can note their reappearance and transformation in the work of
Rousseau and Freud. I must perforce discuss them telegraphically, without
taking due account of other influences that also shaped their views. Since the
Stoic influence on early modern philosophers was also mediated by medieval
and Renaissance interpretations of the ancients, it is virtually impossible to
isolate direct from intermediary sources. On the other hand, we can get ances-
tral resemblances cheaply, wholesale. And since after all every complex philo-
sophic theory has multiple sources, it should not be surprising that early
modern philosophers--educated as they were by their reading of Cicero and
Seneca--should have retained some traces of Stoic doctrines.sS Rather than
noting general similarities or attempting to trace stages in the transmission of
ancient Stoicism on Rousseau and Freud, I propose to show how Rousseau
and Freud subverted the Stoic doctrines they borrowed and adapted for their
own purposes.
T h e Stoic thematics of Rousseau are familiar enough. A quick reminder
should suffice.s9 First and foremost there is Rousseau's account of the direc-
tions of nature: every individual begins with the sense of his own existence,
with his amour de sol. "Man's first sentiment was that of his existence, his first
care that of his preservation" (Second Discourse, 142).4~ He finds his well-being

ss Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Rousseau, and Kant were educated by Cicero, Seneca,
and Plutarch. Spinoza's library included Epictetus' Enchiridion, Seneca's tragedies and letters, and
Cicero's letters. Despite his occasional scornful references to the Stoics (First Discourse, Part I,
3.13-15; Emile, Bk. 2), Rousseau frequently quotes Cicero, Seneca, and Plutarch, and took the
epigraph for Em//e from Seneca's De Ira. Many of the early moderns' anti-skeptical, anti-
Epicurean strategies--the terminology of impressions, impulses, and common notions, their
conviction that every individual is directed to maintain and express its natural constitution, the
barely hidden belief in the immanent providential directions of Nature, the attempts to conjoin
rational autonomy with a cosmopolitan or universalistic morality--derive from the transmission
and transformation of Stoic doctrines. (See Michael Frede, "The Stoic Doctrine of the Affections
of the Soul," in Schofield and Striker, eds., Norms of Nature, and his "Stoics and Skeptics on Clear
and Distinct Impressions," in M. F. Burnyeat, ed., The Skeptical Tradition (Berkeley, 1983).
s9 For detailed accounts of the Stoic strands in Rousseau, see Arthur Melzer, The Natural
Goodness of Man (University of Chicago, 199o ), esp. 36-37, 56-57, 91-92, and Jean Starobinski,
Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Transparency and Obstruction (University of Chicago, 197 l), esp. 28, 37, xo4-
1o9, 284. See also A. O. Rorty, "Rousseau's Therapeutic Experiments," Philosophy (1991), and
Mark Hulliung, The Autocritique of Enlightenment: Rousseau and the Philosophes (Harvard, 1994), 88-
94, 177, x97. On the other side, we should weigh thejudgrnent of Victor Gourevitch, who (in the
notes to his translation and edition of The First and Second Discourses[New York, 1986]) argues that
Rousseau was primarily influenced by Epicurus and Lucretius, among the ancients. See also
Joshua Cohen, "The Natural Goodness of Humanity," in Learning from the History of Ethics, ed.
Barbara Herman, Christine Korsgaard, and Andrews Reath (Cambridge, 1996), esp. footnote 4o.
40All references are to the pages cited in the standard four-volume Pl6iade edition of Rous-
seau's Oeuvres Complktes, ed. Bernard Gagnebin et Marcel Raymond (Paris: Pl*iade, 1969). I have
also used Victor Gourevitch's translation of The First and Second Discourses (New York, 1986), as
in the expression of his natural, constitutionally-based activities. Fortunately,
natural self-preserving activities are, at least in their primitive forms, compati-
ble and harmonious. As Rousseau puts it in Emile: "The sensitive being [i.e.,
the aspect of the self that is formed and limited by his senses] is indivisible and
o n e . . . " (Emile IV, 279n.). Providentially, the natural, constitutionally-based
activities of self-preservation are directed to their proper objects. Moreover,
man is, in nature and by nature, good, that is, he is neither constitutionally
destructive nor self-destructive; and in a surprising echo of Stoicism, this
harmony is assured by a pervasive divinity. "What is good and conformable to
order is so by the nature of t h i n g s . . , all justice comes from God, he alone is
the source" (Social Contract, 1.6.~).
But natural goodness is not yet virtue: the initial activities of self-preserva-
tion do not yet express what is distinctive or best in human nature. Despite his
frequent complaints against what he sees as false Stoic intellectualism, Rous-
seau's attack on the corruption of society parallels the Stoics' attack on the
excesses of pleasure-bound Epicureanism: pleasure is not the end but the by-
product of constitutionally-based natural activity. (See First Discourse, I; Second
Discourse, I). Rousseau endorses the Stoics' criticism of passive fantasy-ridden
passions and the erratic impulses that follow from them: the pursuit of empty
pleasures, the corruption of manners, the desperate dependence on the opin-
ion of others. Like the Stoics, he distinguishes sharply between cognitive im-
pressions that are reliable indications of their sources (phantasiai) and fantasy-
bound (phantasmata) passions that generate false judgments and misleading
impulses. Like them, he thinks that the very faculties that make knowledge and
virtue possible--the mind's capacity to affirm or deny judgments and
impulses--also make it subject to error and corruption. And like them, he
thinks that the pursuit of wealth, status, and ephemeral goods rests on a mis-
taken conception of the self as vulnerable and dependent rather than as ra-
tional and virtuous. Like them he contrasts the harmful erroneous passions
with the benign and rational sentiments (eupatheia 0 of friendship, familial affec-
tion, piety, and citizenship.
The just polity described in the Social Contract is a political analogue of the
Stoics' view of the well-ordered cosmos. Man fulfills his true nature as a
rational autonomous being by identifying himself with the General Will, as the
expression of what is objectively good for the polity taken as an organic whole.
While the General Will is neither the will of all nor that of the majority, it is
formed by weighing the objective interests of each individual, rationally con-

well as The Social Contract, tr. and ed. Roger and Judith Masters (NewYork, 1978), Allan Bloom's
translation of Emile (BasicBooks, 1979),and Judith McDowell'stranslation ofLa Nouvelle Helo~se
(Penn State Press, 1979).
35 ~ JOURNAL OF T H E H I S T O R Y OF P H I L O S O P H Y 34:3 JULY 1996
sidered as a part of the whole polity.4, In following his judgment about what
serves the good of the whole--in living according to logos--the citizen trans-
forms his perspectival desires. Like the Stoic sage, the rational citizen is both
subject and sovereign. As subject, he lives in accordance with the law; as
sovereign, he identifies himself with the laws that he rationally legislates to
himself. The fulfillment of his nature--his virtue--is Janus-faced: it consists
in autonomous activity that preserves his natural amour de soi and in his ra-
tional consent to what is best for his polity.
Rousseau's view of consent as the condition f o r - - a n d the active expression
of--rationality echoes the Stoic view that rationality rests on the ability to
affirm or to deny the representational claims of impressions and judgments.
He reaffirms the view that active consent to what is best for the whole polity
(cosmos) constitutes the objective fulfillment of human nature. In principle,
the gap between an individual's perspectival desires and his commitment to
the General Will is bridged by his recognition that rationality serves his true
interests and expresses what is most fundamental in his nature. The individ-
ual who has objectively identified his interests with those of the Body Politic--
who wholeheartedly consents to the Social Contract--has become a rational,
that is, a moral being, directed by general principles rather than by his immedi-
ate perspectival impulses or by the corrupt self-serving calculative desires of
the social subject. Rousseau's view is expressed in a formulation that might
have come directly from Epictetus: "Justice has been substituted for instinct"
(Social Contract, 1.6.55 ).
But Rousseau's transformation of the Stoic account of natural goodness
and rational virtue has an unexpected reversal. Not only the arts and theater,
not only unjust rulers, but the sciences and even philosophy, considered as
bodies of knowledge, "alienate" man from his true nature, from his nobility
and his rationality. The skills of logic and dialectic, the abstract sciences of
mathematics and physics, are not the instruments of wisdom: they stand in the
way of the individual's direct, clear, and autonomous relation to nature and to
his fellow citizens. Rather than being a progressive movement towards truth,

4~Parallels: Consider how Plato describes the work of the Demiurge in the Tinmeu~. Within
the constraints set by the Receptacle, the Demiurge constructsdinstantiates ideal mathematical
forms in a world designed to assure the best compossible realization of its constituent parts.
Consider how Stoic providential n a t u r e - - t h e cosmic o r d e r - - d e t e r m i n e s the proper, rationally
determined strivings of its parts, constrained by having to make their individual functional activi-
ties compossible. Consider Leibniz's account of the best of all possible worlds. Rousseau's account
of the formation of the General Will is, I believe, akin to these projects. T h e General Will is the
best compossible realization of rationalized individual interests. Yet again: how long is the "long
run" implicitly introduced as a base measure of rational organization? How many generations
must be considered in determining the best compossible realization of individual and cosmic
T H E T W O F A C E S OF S T O I C I S M 351

philosophy--Rousseau is of course thinking of the history of philosophical

disputation that followed Stoicism--deflects the proper expression of autono-
mous rationality. But the force of Rousseau's indignant anti-Stoic rhetoric
disguises the extent to which he retains Stoic assumptions, while at the same
time criticizing their implications. Rousseau attacks the caricature of the sci-
ences in the name of the active autonomous exercise of rationality. But the
Stoics were as hostile as Rousseau to the accumulation of useless unassimilable
"facts" and arcane theories; for them, the episteme of physics and philosophy
consists in the activity of pervasive thinking rather than in a hoard of informa-
tion, speculation, or general principles.
Still, for all that, Rousseau remains antiintellectual: individual rationality is
not achieved by reflective, "all things considered" thinking. His attack on
relations of dependency, his suspicions of its emotionally crippling and cor-
rupting consequences lead him to play down an investigation of the details of
what, in his more lyrical moments, he sees as man's harmonious unity with
nature and with his fellow citizens. Emile does not develop his rationality by a
systematic study of the natural sciences: his education must preserve the pri-
macy of sensation and his sense of well-being in his natural activity.
Rousseau's rational citizen affirms the General Will; the wise lover and just
parent transmute possessive passion into the rational sentiments of friend-
ship. But as Rousseau imagines it, their early perspectival passions remain,
and remain obdurately persistent. The sage of ancient Stoicism may know
how to order his various identities as a rational being, as citizen, as son and
father, as a councillor. But the therapeutic experiments of Rousseau's "sages,"
their attempts to construct a miniature version of an idealized cosmos--the
educational project of Emile's tutor, the principles of the Original Legislator
of the Social Contract, the domestic arrangements of the benevolent M.
Wolmar ruling Clarens--manifestly do not succeed in assuring the continued
harmony of their charges. Emile and Sophie cannot continue the task the
Tutor began: they must turn to him for help in raising their children. The just
polity must prohibit voluntary social associations to avoid the dependency and
invidious comparison of corrupt societies. Julie and St. Preux are troubled by
the passion they have set aside. Indeed Julie must take the effectively suicidal
act of saving her children from drowning as her last attempt to preserve her
true self as affectionate wife and mother.
The tension between the perspectives of the natural individual and his
rational fulfillment remains: there is no guarantee that the various aspects of a
man's natural functions form a harmonious whole. For all of Rousseau's origi-
nal confidence in the original unity of natural self-consciousness, the Tutor
must enjoin Emile not to theorize about nature. As father, Emile must repre-
sent the particular needs of his family; as citizen, he must wholeheartedly
35~ JOURNAL OF T H E H I S T O R Y OF P H I L O S O P H Y 34:3 JULY 1996
consent to the general principles of the polity and to its particular laws and
policies. Presumably civic rationality takes priority over family particularity,
and presumably Cidzen Emile consents to that priority. But family affections
are not extirpated or vanquished by civic rationality. "Everything that is not in
nature has its inconveniences and civil society more than all the rest" (Social
Contract, III.13.1o ). And in a letter to Mirabeau of ~6 July, 1767, he remarks:
"The great problem of politics.., i s . . . to find a form of government that
might succeed in placing law above man . . . . I frankly believe t h a t . . , this
f o r m . . , cannot be found." Unfortunately, these intrapsychic and political
divisions are not contingent quirks of individual constitutions or historical
accidents: they are structural. Rousseau does not explicitly discuss the appar-
ently inescapable incompatibility among citizens' various functions and duties.
While he can follow the Stoics in according priority to rationality as the capac-
ity to discover and to assent to the General Will, his descriptions of the best
state, the best society, and the best family suggest that disharmony is virtually
inevitable. Nature as a whole may providentially form a systematic unity, and
even the vicissitudes of psychological and political conflict can form a compre-
hensible well-formed structure, all things considered. (Echoes o f Chrysippus.)
The thought of his rationality can comfort a Rousseauvian sage on the rack of
the psychological conflicts between his "pre-social" sensory nature and his
sociability, and he derives a sense of virtue from his consent to the General
Will. But he remains, and will experience himself as remaining, ambivalent
and conflicted.
Rousseau's working through his Stoic inheritance eventually undermines
its assurance of the harmony and unity of the mind. The classical Stoics
thought that the unity of the rational soul manifests and signifies the unity of
the cosmos. While the unity of the mind and the cosmos may involve apparent
counterbalances and tensions among their parts, providential nature pre-
serves the harmony among their functions. Even as a citizen of Rome, the
Stoic sage was cosmopolitan; and because the good of "what was his own" (his
family, his polity) was ultimately determined by the good of humanity, there
could be no tension between his particularity and his universality. T h e various
layers of the identity of the Stoic sage--his sentience, his civic sentiments, and
his thoroughgoing rationalism--are harmonious. Rousseau was far less opti-
mistic. While he thought that pre-social man--"sensible man"--partakes of
the harmony and order of Nature, the citizen who has become objectively
capable o f taking a critically evaluative stance towards his primitive desires has
also detached himself from nature. He is unified as a sensing being in nature;
and, as a rational being, he is unified by nature. But unfortunately, the t w o - -
the movements of particularity and those of rationality--do not exactly coin-
cide. Rousseau's citizen is not guided by cosmopolitan considerations. The

scope of "his own" is not universal mankind, still less the cosmos; it is his fellow
citizens in a relatively small and self-contained polity. He is engaged in the
physical activity of sustaining his family rather than in philosophic reflection.
To be sure, his rational consent to the General Will is supported by sentiments
nurtured by civic religion and seasonal festivals. But these do n o t - - a n d as
Rousseau describes them, they cannot--pervade or even transmute the whole
of his psychology. If they did, it would not be necessary to introduce censor-
ship in the state, nor would Emile need to promise the Tutor to postpone his
sexuality. M. Wolmar would not have to make a flourish of asserting his trust
of St. Preux and Julie: his affirmation is meant to constitute a transformative
performance. Even Rousseau's best candidates for sagacity will not only have
passions, they will have the sorts of passions that must be controlled and
dominated, rather than encompassed by understanding. And with domina-
tion and control, comes a divided mind. It is as much in ambivalence as in the
capacity for rationality that humanity is expressed.
Freud gives Rousseau's transformation of Stoic optimism a glaringly explicit
pessimistic turn.~* The first, most basic drive is that of organic survival, provi-
dentially properly directed to the natural objects that serve it. These drives
become specified--cognitively individuated--through the contingencies of
early experiences. Freud endorses a radical transformation of Cicero's descrip-
tion of the Stoic "cradle argument": it is "in childhood [puer/t/a] t h a t . . , we can
most easily recognize the will of nature [naturae voluntatem cognoscere]."4s Al-
though he does not accept a straightforwardly cognitive version of the Stoic
account of the development of rational morality, Freud thinks that the active
experiences of early childhood form an individual's conceptions and preconcep-
tions. They form the basis o f - - a n d provide the criterion for--his later convic-
tions and satisfactions. " R e a s o n . . . is said to be completed from our preconcep-
tions [prolepseis] [which are formed] during our first seven years." This is Aetius
(4-1 1.1-4 [LS 39E]), but the motto--with quite a different interpretation and
direction--might come from Freud. Aetius seems to have been sketching an
account of concept-formation and cognitive development, without explicitly
addressing the question of whether prerational experiences continue to influ-
ence adult psychology in their original form.44 Freud's position is double-

4, See "Freud on Unconscious Affects, Mourning and the Erotic Mind," in A. O. Rorty, ed.,
Mind in Action (Beacon, 1988 ).
4s Cicero, De Fin. 5-55. See also Lucretius 2.257-58 and Jacques Brunschwig, "The Cradle
A r g u m e n t in Epicureanism and Stoicism," in Schofield and Striker, eds., Norms o/Nature.
44T h e classical Stoics drew an analogy between (1) the sage's preference of reason to his more
primitive cognitive-fantasies and (2) his preference for a new stellar acquaintance to an old
familiar friend. In itself, the analogy does not specify whether the original friend/cognitive
phantasiai are laid aside, whether they continue to funcdon as they always did, or whether they
begin to function in an entirely transformed manner.
354 JOURNAL OF T H E H I S T O R Y OF P H I L O S O P H Y 34:3 JULY 1996
edged. On the one hand, at least some prelinguistic experience is also
prerational: it does not, for instance, conform to the law of noncontradiction.45
On the other hand, the unconscious influence of prelinguistic and prerational
experience reveals a rationally reconstructible purposiveness: it is cannily con-
structed to express repressed forbidden material.
Freud's doctrine of the emotions presents even more startling evidence of
his Stoic inheritance. Surprisingly enough, he does not extend the hospitality
he has accorded to unconscious drives and ideas to affects. "It is," he says, "in
the nature of affects that they be conscious."46 While their ideational content
may be mistaken (shades of phantasmata and false judgments), affects are
experienced--phenomenologically sensed--as modifications.47 As the expres-
sions of blocked drives for organic survival and satisfaction, they represent
deflected desires, implicit evaluative impulses. (Shades of horme). Again, we
have nearly parallel texts: "A passion occurs," Epictetus says, "only if a desire
is unsuccessful or an aversion encounters [what it seeks to avoid. It is these
experiences] that bring disturbances, confusions . . . . sorrows, lamentations,
envy" (Discourses, 3.2.1-5; LS 56C). Freud argues that affects are by-products
of blocked motivation. Because they serve to release the energy of forbidden
drives, affects have a conscious--but typically misleading--ideational content.
The task of psychoanalysis is to recover and redirect the energies of such
blocked drives. Instead of being randomly and disturbingly discharged, they
are to be made available for work (echoes of Stoic civic duties) and for love
(echoes of Stoic familial and civic eupatheia). The work of psychoanalysis is
modeled on the Stoic's task of achieving an enlightened self-understanding
that gives psychological reactions an appropriate direction and function.
Freud sets himself the Stoic's task of explaining the rationale--the hidden
logos--of apparently irrational thought and action. The success of that task
depends on his view that (with the exception of the prelogical activity of
unconscious processes) the operations of the mind are rationally, though of-
ten deviously, structured. Psychopathology is rigorously, though defectively,
logical. The tripartite.functions of the soul--the id, the superego and the
e g o - - a r e unified through their libidinal sources, and each is, in its own com-
plex, semantically jocular, cryptographically decipherable way, perfectly logi-
cal. Indeed the aim of psychotherapy presupposes the ego's capacity to deci-
pher and to correct its cryptographically wayward judgments; it proceeds on

4s See "The Antithetical Character of Primal Words" (191o), in the Standard Edition (here-
after SE) of The Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, ed. James Strachey, Vol. 11: 154ff.
46,,The Unconscious" (1915), SE 14: i61ff. (Section III).
47"The ideational presentation [of an affect] may undergo repression" (ibid.). Without system-
atically distinguishing them, Freud sometimes speaks of what we would call the intentional object
of psychological states as an ldee, an Objekt, a Begriff, or lnhalt.
T H E T W O F A C E S OF S T O I C I S M 355
the assumption that the conscious psyche forms a unified self-scanning ra-
tional system directed to preserving what it takes to be "its own." But Freud's
working through his Stoic inheritance brings him to a subversive conclusion.
T h o u g h psychological operations are in general perfectly coherent--perhaps
tragically, but nonetheless beautifully o r d e r e d - - t h e archeological remnants
of protracted infancy leave individuals inevitably, ineradicably ambivalent and
conflicted. Even the Freudian sage who understands his psychology, who has
worked through a psychoanalytic recognition of his malformed desires and
the emotions they bring, continues to experience and reenact the effects of
childhood conflicts and trauma.~ s The prerational formative stages of psycho-
logical development remain in place, causally effective even when they have
also been transformed and rationalized. To the extent that the Freudian sage
sees himself as having been formed by his experiences, to the extent that he
. accepts and identifies with the rational ego that actively understands the vicissi-
tudes of his psychological history, to that extent, he no longer suffers his
blocked drives and the affects they bring. He understands himself as the
patterned, natural expression of that history. Doing so allows him to redirect
his energies to the work of culture and love. (Shades of ergon, philosophia and
eupatheia.) Like the Stoic sage, he does--and does not--have passions; like the
Stoic sage, he is--and is not--detached from his impulses. He differs from
the Stoic sage in recognizing the inevitability--the necessity--of his own psy-
chological conflicts, all the more troubling because they occur within a unified,
cryptologically rational mind.
Rousseau transposes Stoic philosophic discipline into the discipline of the
citizens' rational consent to the General Will, to the laws of the Sovereign and
to the activities of civic friendship. Freud also revises the Stoics' account of the
disciplines of rationality. Deontic logic, philosophical grammar, and physics
have, in Freud's hands, become the taxing discipline of unifying the soul:
making enlightened and recovered memory pervade experience and action.
As the early Stoics took the practical and therapeutic function of philosophy to
be "all things considered" thinking, so Freud's sage undertakes the practical
and therapeutic task of "all things considered" remembering. He understands
how his phantasiai and phantasmata, his affects and impulses have been formed
by his early experiences. U n d e r benign circumstances, this enlarged and en-
hanced self-knowledge enables him to readjust his impulses. The dramas of
prolonged infancy make it virtually inevitable that human impulses will be
conflicted. But his understanding of the way that his personal history is gov-
erned by psychodynamics places him in a new relation to those conflicts.

48 See B e n n e t t Simon, Tragic Drama and the Family (Yale, 1987).

356 J O U R N A L OF T H E H I S T O R Y OF P H I L O S O P H Y 3 4 : 3 J U L Y ~996

Instead of suffering them passively, he can, if he is fortunate, accept them as

an expression of his nature.
What then, you may well ask, are the two faces of Stoicism? Well, actually,
there are two double faces. The first is that which Rousseau and Freud share
with the classic Stoics: the proto-passions and proto-impulses of the wise man
a r e - - a n d are not--his. The second double face is marked by the difference
between Rousseau's and Freud's conception of rational therapy. Although
they no longer share the early Stoics' confidence in psychological harmony,
they agree that the mind is, in principle, unified and rational. Rousseau's
philosophical therapy takes the form of political and educational reform. T o
be sure, Emile's education is focused on his individual experiences. But if the
educational experiment described in Emile is to serve as a generalizable model,
it must be set within a just polity, organized to preserve the rational autonomy
and impartiality of civic-minded citizens. Freud's philosophical therapy takes a
psychological form, to be worked through by every individual. It is the individ-
ual's recognition--and acceptance--of the necessities dictated by the reality
principle that marks his rationality. The two faces of modern Stoicism point in
different directions: one sets us to the disciplines of political life, the other to
the individual's work in balancing his private needs with his contributions to
civilization. Where early Stoicism promised a reconciliation between the indi-
vidual's natural movements to self-preservation and his rational fulfillment,
Rousseau directs the sage to reasonable resignation and Freud to reasonable

Brandeis University

491 am grateful to Myles Burnyeat for his counsel on Stoicism; to Michael Frede for an
illuminating conversation on distinctive, separable strands in Stoic thought; to Victor Gourevitch
for many discussions of Rousseau; to Richard Sorabji for bibliographic material; to Julia Annas,
Christopher Gill and Terence Irwin for letting me read the manuscripts of some of their unpub-
lished papers; and to Lilli Alanen, Richard Bett, Eva Brann, Marcia Colish, John Ferrari, Christo-
pher Gill, Simo Knuutila, Stephen Leighton, Donald Morrison, Juha Sihvola, and audiences at
seminars at the Claremont Graduate School, Brandeis, Helsinki, and Temple Universities for
helpful comments. I also benefitted from the conscientious comments provided by an anonymous
referee for the JHP.