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This paper presents Stoicism as, in broad historical terms, the point of origin in Western thought of an extreme form of rational essentialism that persists today in the debate over human bioenhancement. Advocates of “radical” enhancement (or transhumanists) would have us codify extreme rational essentialism through manipulation of genes and the brain to maximize rational ability and eliminate the capacity for emotions deemed unsalutary. They, like Stoics, see anger as especially dangerous. The ancient dispute between Stoics and Aristotle over the nature and permissibility of anger has contemporary analogues. I argue that, on the merits, this controversy should, finally, be put to rest in Aristotle’s favor. Beyond its philosophical assets, Aristotle’s perspective meshes well with “appraisal theory” of emotion in psychology and corresponding discoveries in neuroscience. What’s more, consideration of the ongoing struggle to achieve full racial equality in the United States supports the view that anger at this ongoing gap between λόγος and ἔργον is legitimate, and has a constructive role to play in furthering liberal democracy. As we are well positioned to retire the Stoics’ legacy regarding anger, all the more should we eschew transhumanists’ proposal to implement their position biologically, at which point debate over the nature and worth of anger would be permanently moot.

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In: Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy
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Recently the view that Plato moves from optimism to pessimism concerning the best sociopolitical condition has come under attack. The present article concurs that this disjunction is too simplistic and finds emphasis on the regulative status of the Republic’s ideal of unity to be salutary. It diverges, however, on how to interpret it thus construed and the implications of its status as regulative for the Republic’s tie to the Laws where human governance is concerned. While unity through aretē remains the guiding telos of Magnesia, the route through which it is sought diverges substantially from that of Kallipolis. This article demonstrates that it stretches the notion beyond all reasonable limits to call the Laws’ unity an approximation of the Republic’s and its infrastructure for communal maintenance, above all, the nocturnal council, the approximation of philosopher-rulers for which the earlier dialogue calls.

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought
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This article challenges the widespread assumption that Plato’s valuation of medicine remains steady across the corpus. While Plato’s opposition to poetry and sophistry/rhetoric endures, in the Laws he no longer views medicine as a rival concerning phusis and eudaimonia. Why is this dispute laid to rest, even as the others continue? This article argues that the Laws’ developments with a bearing onmedicine stem ultimately from the philosopher-ruler’s disappearance. The deeper appreciation of good medical practice that ensues, combined with an array of sociopolitical mechanisms for detecting injustice, means that the health care setting is no longer—as in the Republic—the crossroads where judgments of the whole person must be made. For the first time, by Plato’s lights, medicine may be a truly self-standing technē.

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought
In: Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy