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Cicero

cicero’s aims
-create ethical rules drawing on stoicism
-explain decline of Rome in ethical terms

groups in Hellenistic period
-Cyrenaics: human end monetary, intense pleasure
-Stoics: agree with P and A that pleasure plays no central role in happiness but they exclude all external goods
-Epicureans: pleasure highest good but must be over complete life AND as independent of external changes as possible; pleasure a kind of stable, tranquil freedom from pain

Epicurean argument
-atoms in a voide fall downward and also swerve, leading to collisions and new forces; everything must be explained in terms of this
-consequences: 1) pleasure and pain most natural 2) no gods, afterlife and this should make us more tranquil
-1) showed through infants; they seek pleasure and this shows its our most natural desire
-we act only for bodily pleasure and what we act for IS the human end, so human end pleasure

Cicero on Epicurean argument
-fails to prove all actions for sake of pleasure
-part of actions, virtues is explained by morality, which Epicurus does not address

bravery and justice according to Epicurus and Cicero
-Epicurus: bravery gives brave person recognition which leads to a life of more stable pleasure; justice good because of pleasure of mind from not having committed crimes
-Cicero: public recognition need not relate to pleasure (many examples can’t be explained by pleasure); people can be totally unjust and have no regrets and Epicurus doesn’t address rightness or wrongness of any action

2 views on human nature and who holds them
-human nature roughly like that of animals: Antiphon/Thrasymachus, Athenians in Melian dialogue, Epicureans
-humans have features other beings don’t: Aristotle, Plato, Cicero and Stoics

Cicero’s “duties”
-complete duties: virtuous actions that are good in themselves
-middle duties: may not be virtuous, not good in themselves but bring about benefits

how can injustice come about for Cicero?
-doing active harm
-neglecting your duties
*a critique of Plato’s philo king: love of forms might prevent active harm but not neglect

Cicero’s virtues
-wisdom: aims at truth, needed for blessed life
-social virtue: justice proper (concerns the state) and generosity/liberality (mostly among friends)
-courage/greatness of soul: needed to perform great deeds but can turn into vice if not linked to doing good for community
-moderation

Cicero’s fundamental aspects of justice
-not harming others (except special cases)
-putting community/common advantage first
-keeping oaths and agreements
-honoring common and private property

just wars for Cicero
-wars last resort after diplomacy
-should aim at just peace
-be relatively merciful to enemies
-wars of self defense are justified, but what about imperial expansion? He says no, but says Roman empire expansion kind of preemption

Cicero on natural law
-for the individual: acting in accordance with reason
-for community: qualified by reason to be part of cosmic community; adds obligations to care for welfare and justice of it
-those who reject reason to extreme point (tyrants) are not included; community does not equal human species but gods + humans that use reason

Aristotle and Cicero’s best city
-Aristotle: mix of aristocracy and democracy OR unmixed absolute kingship
-Cicero: mix monarchy (consuls), aristocracy (senate) and democracy (popular assembly) – believe this brings harmony, the mean

why doesn’t Cicero like democracy for Rome?
-in classical Athens (where there was democracy) there wasn’t enough differentiation in status
-the largest group of the city should have awe, reverence for aristocrats

Cicero on “republic”
-slightly different definition
-it’s the common concern of a group that’s united by common interest and respect for law
-Cicero can thus deny that tyranny is any kind of republic or commonwealth since it has no respect for law or common good

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