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Ergebnisanzeige "The Use of Knowledge: Elements of Stoicism in Modern Thought"
RessourcentypKonferenzen, Tagungen, Kolloquien
TitelThe Use of Knowledge: Elements of Stoicism in Modern Thought
Beschreibung3rd-5th of July 2009, Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt an der Oder.

The Use of Knowledge: Elements of Stoicism in Modern Thought
(3rd-5th of july 2009, Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt an der Oder)

Die Tagung untersucht die Rezeption des antiken Stoizismus ab dem 18. Jahrhundert. Autoren wie Adam Smith, Christian Wolff, Rousseau, Baudelaire oder Michel Foucault haben ihre Ideen mit einer Vielzahl von Bezügen auf den Stoizismus entwickelt. Wissenschaftler aus Frankreich, Deutschland, Großbritannien und den USA gehen der Frage nach, ob man von einer systematische Rezeption dieser antiken Schule sprechen kann, die unverzichtbare Impulse etwa für solche nachhaltigen Konzepte wie die 'unsichtbare Hand' (Smith), die 'Selbsttechniken' (Foucault) oder die Idee einer 'naturgemäßen Erziehung' (Rousseau) geliefert hat. Die Tagungssprache ist Englisch. Die Konferenz beginnt am 3.7.09 um 15.00 an der Europa-Universität Viadrina im Hauptgebäude Raum 104.


Friday, 03.07. 2009 (HG 104)

15.00 - 15.15
Thomas Bénatouïl, Matthias Rothe: introduction

I. Stoic order and nature in the XVIIIth century

15.15 - 16.15
Jeffrey Barnouw (Professor, Department of English, University of Texas at Austin)
Intelligent Design in Shaftesbury

16.15 - 17.15
Stefanie Buchenau (Maître de Conférence en études germaniques, Université Paris 8)
„Die Moralpropädeutik des berühmten Wolffs“ and its Stoic Basis

17.45 - 18.45
Thierry Hoquet (Maître de Conférences en philosophie, Université Paris 10-Nanterre)
Anti-Lucrèce and Anti-Polignac: Order, Chance and Nature in France in 1749

Saturday, 04.07.09 (GD 04)

9.00 - 10.00
Gabrielle Radica (Maître de Conférences en philosophie, Université de Picardie-Jules Verne)
Stoic Elements in Rousseau’s Emile: Living Beings, Nature and Order

10.00 - 11.00
Bastian Ronge (Doktorand am Institut für Philosophie, FU Berlin)
“Sensitive Stoicism” – A New Perspective on Adam Smith’s Stoicism

II Stoicism between metaphysics and aesthetics in the XIXth and XXth centuries

11.30 - 12.30
Christopher J. Delogu (Professeur, Département d'anglais, Université Jean Moulin-Lyon III)
Emerson, Stoicism, and the Question of Responsibility

14.00 - 15.00
Simon Swift (Lecturer in English Literature, University of Leeds)
‘Take courage, and withdraw yourself from ways/ That run not parallel to Nature’s course’: William Wordsworth and the courage of (neo)-Stoicism

15.00 - 16.00
Cornelia Wild (wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin am Institut für Romanische Philologie LMU München)
Exercising Modernity: Stoic Practice in the Works of Baudelaire and Foucault

16.30 - 17.30
Thomas Bénatouïl (Université Nancy 2 et IUF)
A new ontology or an aesthetics of existence ? Stoicism between the first Deleuze and the last Foucault

Sunday, 05.07.2009 (HG 217)

III The Role of Stoicism and Neostoicism in modern history and XIXth-XXth century historiography

9.30 - 10.30
Angus Nichols (Lecturer, German Department at Queen Mary University, London)
Stoicism and the Development of the Human Sciences: Wilhelm Dilthey’s Reception of Stoicism

10.30 – 11.30
Tracie Matysik (Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Texas at Austin)
"The Hidden Influence of Stoicism in Nineteenth-Century German Philosophical Critique of Modern Natural Sciences (Tönnies, Friedländer, Berendt)"

11.30 – 12.15
General discussion


Stefanie Buchenau
„Die Moralpropädeutik des berühmten Wolffs“ and its Stoic Basis

Since interpreters of Christian Wolff have generally proceeded according to a Kantian perspective, they have not always presented the most sympathetic picture of the Wolffian approach to practical philosophy. Following Kant, who condemned Wolff’s approach as «impure» and empirically flawed, they have not paid much attention to Wolff’s arguments concerning practical philosophy (and more generally, to the practically oriented German Enlightenment philosophy as Weltweisheit). Heiner Klemme, whose paper at the First International Christian Wolff Congress in 2004 lists the reasons for Wolff’s philosophical «inferiority» in comparison to Kant, is in this respect still representative. The present paper suggests a radical change of perspective. In order to appreciate the Wolffian philosophical contribution, it is imperative to begin by reconstructing the Stoic argumentative basis to his thought and to explore the affinities between Stoicism and Wolff. In fact, Wolff’s formulation of the moral law «Do what makes you and your condition, or that of others more perfect; omit what makes it less perfect», goes back to earlier Stoicism, especially Zeno, who first identified morality with order and coined the term homologoumenos zen to express the idea that morality consists of order, harmony and consistency of conduct. After having explored the common practical philosophical, psychological and cognitive tenets shared by Stoicism and Wolff’s philosophy, the paper examines the genuinely modern aspects in Wolff (such as his views on practical rationality and motivation and its mechanistic background) and offers a set of fresh conclusions concerning Wolff’s and Kant’s respective positions and their philosophical justifications.

Christopher J. Delogu
Emerson, Stoicism, and the Question of Responsibility

My paper will first outline the generally admiring regard of Emerson for the classical Stoical tradition (Marc Aurelius and Seneca, notably) before focusing on Emerson's status as an "engaged spectator" (Aron) of some of the major American conflicts of his lifetime, especially the questions of slavery, women's rights, and the expansion of political involvement beyond business and industrial elites during the Age of Jackson. Making use of observations by Tocqueville about the America of Emerson's day and by Christopher Newfield ("The Emerson Effect") about more recent American tendencies, I will argue that Emerson's life and writings exemplify at once the nobility and the pitfalls of a certain stoicism in everyday American life.

Thierry Hoquet
Anti-Lucrèce and Anti-Polignac: Order, Chance and Nature in France in 1749.

1749 is the year in which two important books were published: the French translation of Polignac’s long Latin poem, L’Anti-Lucrèce, Poème sur la religion naturelle, and the first three volumes of Buffon’s Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière. The comparison between those two books helps us to understand the relevance of the debate concerning Epicureanism and Providentialism in the 1740s and the influence Stoicism had on this debate. On the one hand, Polignac struggles against those systems of "physique" which put forward the importance of chance in natural processes and, and thus reactivates several ancient stoic objections to epicureanism: Polignac claims for example that they necessarily will lead to atheism and immorality. On the other hand, Buffon is called the «Anti-Polignac», since accidental events – like, for example, the appearance of a comet – play an important role in his system in that he tries to avoid any reference to God in his natural history. Nonetheless, it would be difficult to argue that Buffon’s "physique" corresponds with the realm of pure chance, since Buffon is paying a great deal of attention to the laws of nature. Thus, far from being reducible to a new Lucretius, Buffon incorporates in his system ideas that can be traced back to stoic physics, such as the approach of natural beings from the point of view of human needs. The case of Buffon, and additional remarks taken from La Mettrie, actually suggests that between design and chance, we have to take into consideration a third term: nature.

Tracie Matysik

Spinoza Reception in Germany: The Hidden Influence of Stoicism in Nineteenth-Century Philosophical Critique of Modern Natural Sciences

Martin Berendt and Julius Friedländer were the two German thinkers of the late nineteenth century who thought most systematically about tying Spinozist monism to modern scientific developments. They did so most thoroughly in their shared work, Spinozas Erkenntnisslehre in ihrer Beziehung zur modernen Naturwissenschaft und Philosophie, and partially in Friedländer’s follow-up piece, Spinoza: Ein Meister der Ethik.1 While they self-consciously situated their work within a Spinozist heritage – and against both idealist and materialist traditions – I will ask in my paper what we might glean from thinking of it within a latent Stoicist tradition. It is well known that Spinoza was greatly influenced by the Stoics, but the continuity of Stoicism into Spinoza reception is far less understood. By reading the works of Berendt and Friedländer through the lens of Stoicism – specifically, by considering their “Spinozist” effort to think together ethics and the laws of natural necessity by interrogating the relationship between knowledge and passion – we can understand their project not only in their late nineteenth-century German context, in which Spinozism offered a singular route between materialism and idealism, but also as part of a broader project of modernity at large that continues to grapple with the relationship of ethics to scientific knowledge.

Angus Nicholls
Stoicism and the Development of the Human Sciences: Wilhelm Dilthey’s Reception of Stoicism.

In terms of his reception of Stoicism, Wilhelm Dilthey is well known for arguing that the rehabilitation of Stoic philosophy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is causally related to the foundation of modernity. This view has been vehemently contested by Hans Blumenberg, yet this dispute has also obscured some of the methodological aspects of Dilthey’s reception of Stoicism. After revisiting the aforementioned critique of Dilthey offered by Blumenberg, this paper will argue that Dilthey’s argumentation concerning Stoicism was also formulated in terms of a methodological purpose that Blumenberg neglects to consider, rather than merely in relation to an exclusively historical argument concerning the development of modernity. In short: it will be proposed that Dilthey finds in Stoic natural law the ground of a sensus communis which will later make possible the foundation of a new form of science: the Geisteswissenschaften or “human sciences.”

Gabrielle Radica
Stoic Elements in Rousseau’s Emile: Living Beings, Nature and Order

The original form of empiricism put forward by Rousseau in his Émile does not take its starting point in an ignorant soul, but in the idea of an evolving living being. This living being relates to itself and its environment according to norms of order and the requirements of its nature. To be more precise, Émile adapts himself gradually to his immediate environment by varying dispositions resulting from orientations towards “the pleasant” and “the unpleasant”, “the appropriate” and “the inappropriate”, and he eventually follows “the idea of perfection and happiness” given to him by reason. Rousseau calls these dispositions “nature” (OC IV, Pléiade, p. 248). Furthermore, this development is guided by the preference the individual grants to his natural integrity over his pleasures. In short, this description of human development and activities and the order they follow seems to adopt a Stoic frame of reference. After having made this more explicit and after having clarified exactly to which Stoicism Rousseau refers, I will try to contextualize those arguments and to explore their polemical and strategic value (mainly within the context of Rousseau’s debate with Helvetius).

Bastian Ronge
“Sensitive Stoicism” – A New Perspective on Adam Smith’s Stoicism

Most of the studies exploring the Stoic elements in Adam Smith’s “Theory of moral sentiments” (cf. Brown 1992; Heise 1991; Waszek 1984) or in his “Wealth of Nations” (cf. Binswanger 1993; Binswanger 1998; Föllinger 2008; Rüstow 2001; Kopp 1995; Kraus 2000) depart from the idea that a clear distinction can be made between the original Stoic thoughts adopted by Smith (e.g. the theory of the invisible hand, the primacy of self-love and the ideal of self-control) and Smith's own notions, which resulted from his engagement with contemporary thinkers such as Hutcheson and Hume (e.g. the concept of sympathy and the idea of an impartial spectator). The purpose of this paper will be to demonstrate that this heuristic distinction tends to obscure an appropriate understanding of the role played by Stoicism in Smith’s work. Following Günter Abel’s research on 17th century Neo-Stoicism, I will apply the notion of ‘conditional terms’ (cf. Abel 1978, p. 14) to account for Smith’s original transformation of Stoic ideas. Specifically, I will argue that Smith’s adoption and interpretation of Stoic philosophy takes place within the frame of “Empfindsamkeit” (sentimentality). “Empfindsamkeit” was the dominant cultural pattern in 18th century Europe during the time in question (cp. Hohendahl 1977, p. 7), and it is based upon a number of strong anthropological assumptions. Smith’s thinking in general, and his adoption of Stoic philosophy in particular, is guided by a ‘sentimental’ conviction concerning the importance of feelings for the establishment and maintenance of social order. Thus he rejects the Stoic concept of apathy and reworks a number of Stoic concepts accordingly. This transformation brings about a new kind of Stoicism, which I describe as "Sensitive Stoicism".

Simon Swift

‘Take courage, and withdraw yourself from ways/ That run not parallel to Nature’s course’: William Wordsworth and the courage of (neo)-Stoicism

Writing of English culture in his essay “Stoicism in English Literature” (1923) , E.A. Sonnenschein claimed that ‘’Roman poetics, Roman thought, Roman philosophy were the main moulding influence for centuries, indeed till comparatively recent times. But the extent of this influence is only partially realised even by many historians of English literature, and the man in the street knows hardly anything about it.’ While Sonnenschein’s claim arguably holds true today, it is also notable that the contemporary reception of William Wordsworth in English literary studies mirrors a key misapprehension of Stoicism in modernity, namely that found in Hegel and his immediate and more recent followers. Hegel’s influential description of Stoicism in The Phenomenology of Spirit as a form of thought ‘which has turned away from the independence of things and returned into itself’ is countered in Marx and Engels’ claim in The German Ideology that ‘The Stoical wise man by no means [pace Stirner] has in mind “life without living development,” but an absolutely active life, as is evident even for his concept of nature, which is Heraclitean, dynamic, developing and living.’ So too, the reduction of Stoicism to an impoverished ethics by the Hegelians is countered in Marx and Engels’ claim that ‘The stoics were able to “say about nature” that physics was on e of the most important sciences of the philosopher.’
This paper will not try to answer the question of whether Wordsworth qualifies as a neo-Stoic or not, but it will assume that Stoicism exerted an important influence on him, through his reading of the Enlightenment philosophes’ responses to Stoicism, as well as through his friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s writings about Stoicism and Epicureanism, but most importantly through his own independent reading and thinking about Roman Stoicism, in particular Seneca. The failure to think carefully about the influence of Stoicism on Wordsworth distorts our picture of his philosophical and poetic project. In particular his effort to cultivate a calm and tranquil return to the self and its relation to nature in the face of human suffering needs to be situated with care in relation to Wordsworth’s thinking about Stoicism. Following the lead of The German Ideology, I will argue however that the most important contribution that Stoicism made to Wordsworth’s poetic thinking concerns issues about the energy and vitality of the cosmos, and the issue of a providential design. This paper will explore some of the ways in which the Wordsworth of The Excursion (1814) employs Stoic ideas of the order of the cosmos to challenge the Epicureanism of the Enlightenment, figured in the poem through Voltaire’s Candide, and what Wordsworth took to be its disastrous moral and political consequences; and it will describe how Wordsworth’s use of (neo)-Stoicism worried Coleridge due to its perceived failure to appeal to a personal deity. I will argue finally that opening up this concern with Wordsworth’s physics in turn enables a new perspective on ethical questions in his work, in particular his response to the random and contingent nature of human suffering as well as his reflection on his role as a poet faced with the spectacle of that suffering.

Cornelia Wild
Exercising Modernity: Stoic Practice in the Works of Baudelaire and Foucault

In Charles Baudelaire’s poetics, there are a number of references to Stoic practice, which are constitutive not only for his dandyism. In his private notes and art-theoretical writings, a continuous search for rules about the right conduct of life, conduite de la vie, is discernible. The successful conduct of life consists in finding short and simple maxims that serve as a shield and protection against the hardships of life. The use of such maxims as weapons of self-protection goes back to Stoic exercises in heathen antiquity. They were described by the historian Pierre Hadot, and Michel Foucault has developed his concept of the “technologies of the self” (technologies de soi) in response to them. These Stoic practices have the purpose of warding off unpleasant surprises, so as to protect oneself against life’s difficulties (praemeditatio malorum). In Baudelaire, these maxims fulfil the same function of self-protection. Walter Benjamin was the first to draw attention to these technologies of defence. However, where the Stoic “technologies of the self” as exercices spirituels have a therapeutic function – the aim is the tranquillity of the soul (tranquilitas animi), the sage’s impassibilitas – Baudelaire’s subject trains both its hardening and its sensitivity. The control of the self is simultaneously its submission. What Benjamin calls the condition that fails to “parry the shock” (Schockabwehr) contains the experience of failure, and finds expression in the paradoxical figures of the fragile athlete, or the wounded fencer. This exercise is most apparent in the scene of re-convalescence, against which Seneca warns his pupil Serenus. In Baudelaire, the self exercises re-convalescence in response to reality. However, this exercise does not aim at tranquillising the soul, but instead trains the self to be “infected by the profane” (Blumenberg). Baudelaire thus produces an aporia that was already a problem in antiquity: the impossibility of complete self-control. Only in modernity, however, does this paradox become apparent. In his later works, Foucault was criticised for his fin de siècle dandyism. Indeed, the gesture of a return to antiquity seems to be stuck in the 19th century, and only imitates the gestures that characterise modernity. Modernity constantly desires antiquity. With reference to the exemplary texts of Baudelaire and Foucault, the present paper shall read this desire as an exercise of modernity.

Dr. Matthias Rothe
Linguistische Kommunikations- und Medienforschung
Europa - Universität Viadrina
Quelle der BeschreibungInformation des Anbieters
KontaktdatenName/Institution: Europa - Universität Viadrina, Linguistische Kommunikations- und Medienforschung 
Strasse/Postfach: Große Scharnstraße 59 
Postleitzahl: 15230 
Stadt: Frankfurt (Oder) 
SchlüsselbegriffeKomparatistik (Kulturvergleich, Interkulturelle Literaturwissenschaft)
Klassifikation04.00.00 Allgemeine Literaturgeschichte > 04.05.00 Antike und abendländische Literatur
Ediert von  H-Germanistik
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