Nature and Utopia in Epictetus’ Theory of Oikeiōsis

In: Phronesis

Abstract

It is widely agreed that there is a gap between the personal and the social ethics of the Stoics due to the difficulty of harmonizing personal and social oikeiōsis. By reconstructing Epictetus’ theory of oikeiōsis, this paper aims to show that, in his ethics, there is no such gap, and this for two reasons: first, his account of social oikeiōsis is not meant to ground his social ethics; second, his theory of personal oikeiōsis is a philosophical construct designed to provide a naturalistic justification to the utopian social project of the cosmopolis rather than to ground his personal ethics.

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