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WIP Talk: Matt Watton
November 25, 2019 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Please join us as Matt Watton (CPAMP graduate student, Classics) gives a presentation to the CPAMP Work-in-Progress seminar, titled:
“Cicero, Plato, and the Sufficiency of Virtue for Happiness”
Abstract: The fifth book of Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations (TD) explores the sufficiency of virtue for happiness. Both the Stoics and Antiochus of Ascalon held that virtue is sufficient for happiness (beatus). Antiochus, however, adopted a Peripatetic threefold division of goods, and argued that ultimate happiness (beatissimus) requires not only virtue, but also bodily and external goods. Antiochus both attributed this ethical theory to Plato and claimed that the Stoics agreed with it in substance, differing only in terminology (in re congruentes, in uerbis dissiderent). I argue that in TD 5, Cicero targets Antiochian ethics by turning Antiochus’ own arguments against him: not only does Antiochus’ position collapse into that of the Stoics, but also Plato and Socrates held the same theory of virtue as the Stoics. This, however, does not mean that Cicero prefers Stoic ethical theory. Rather, I argue that Cicero’s motive in TD 5 is dialectical. He aims to show the superiority of a New Academic approach to ethics: like Carneades before him, Cicero acts as arbiter between Stoics and Peripatetics, and in this way best embodies the essence of Platonic philosophy.