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CLASSICS PRESENTS ... Speakers Series

Wednesday, April 4, 2018
4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Watson Hall
Room: 517
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Dr. Brad Inwood
Professor of Classics and Philosophy, Yale University

Theoretical and Practical Lives in Aristotle's School: Cicero and the Great Controversy
Aristotle’s lost dialogue Protrepticus was very influential in the ancient world and recent work has given us a better understanding of it and the genre of popular philosophical writing that it helped to shape. But protreptic was not the only genre that incited people to live the philosophical life; in the Hellenistic period works with the title On Ways of Life (peri biôn) also discussed the best life for humans to live. This paper looks at the relationship of works peri biôn to protreptic, especially in Aristotle’s own school, with special attention to the question whether a philosopher should live a life of practical, political activity or of private theoretical study. Cicero, as a politician and philosopher, took a special interest in this issue and alludes to a great debate (controversia) inside Aristotle’s school. This alleged debate needs to be reconsidered in the light of recent work on the school in the Hellenistic period.

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