Musonius Rufus — Lecture XV: Should every child that is born (or conceived) be raised?

by Massimo Pigliucci

Ever since I got interested in practicing Greco-Roman philosophy, and especially one form or another of Stoicism, I’ve had to face the inevitable fact that sometimes the ancients seem so hopelessly out of touch that one wonders whether the whole enterprise is actually worth it.

Stoicism, of course, is not the only philosophy of life to incur in this problem. Confucianism is often, rightly, accused of being too patriarchal. And of course there are countless ethical anachronisms marring all three Abrahamic religions, just to mention a few cases. … (continue on Medium)


  1. Per the paper you cite, I’d argue back, that by actual statements, Stoics, and many other ancient philosophies and theologies, didn’t consider women to be quite fully human. Note different dates for “ensoulment” of male vs female fetusus or similar holdings, by Aristotle, the Tanakh and others. Ergo, ancient Stoics were NOT logically entailed feminists by cosmopolitanism.

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  2. True, but surely Aristotle’s thoughts were part of a general milieu. (And, Zeno of Citium wasn’t a Jew, either, that said.) I would expect that the Stoics didn’t believe much otherwise, though, unless some Stoic has express statements that the brotherhood of man included not just ανθρωποί but also ανθρωπαί, to go modernist. Or, that ανθρωποί included not just άνδρες but also γυναίκες.

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    1. The Stoics, like the Cynics, were cosmopolitan. And they repeatedly and explicitly said that women have the same intellectual abilities as men.


  3. Well, maybe sort of. It appears this issue has considerable academic debate: and here:

    The phrase “proto-feminist” per the second link sounds about right. (Next, we’ll start arguing about presentism again!)

    And, I’ll close with referencing the book of James: Show me your deeds!

    Or, per Monty Python: “Bring out your deeds!” And, I know, some did.

    With the Stoics (and Epicureans even more, likely), more than with Cynics, class issues probably also intertwine. It’s fine to have the deed of your wife (Portia Cato and Brutus) being a Stoic, but the whole of womenkind in the abstract may be different.

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  4. I recognized Immoderate wasn’t academic itself; wasn’t sure how much background it had behind it. That said, Hill herself referenced the “sort of” idea in approval, or so it seemed to me. Which, as a non-presentist, or as someone who recognizes a few humans somewhere have always had modern values or else we’d have some inexplicable cultural evolution saltation (see, brought Steve Gould in here!) we can to some degree judge the present by the past, the “sort of” is an idea I’d buy.

    Show me your humaste, to go beyond James to the word I invented?



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