Chapter

Introduction

Lieve Van Hoof

in Plutarch's Practical Ethics

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199583263
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723131 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583263.003.0001
Introduction

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This chapter starts with a survey of the preceding scholarly literature on Plutarch's practical ethics, a group of twenty-odd texts within the Moralia. Although Ziegler's discussion of what he labelled Plutarch's ‘popular-philosophical’ writings, following upon a century of Quellenforschung, brought about an increased interest in several of the texts involved, it also contributed to them being regarded as second-rank philosophy. This book is the first monograph that studies this group of texts as literary compositions in dynamic interaction with their socio-historical context. Methodologically, it combines close reading with perspectives opened up by new cultural history, new historicism, and speech-act theory in order to show that Plutarch's practical ethics were designed not only to contribute to the ethical and social well-being of the Graeco-Roman elite, but also to establish and consolidate Plutarch's own social identity as a philosopher-citizen. The Introduction ends with a survey of the contents of the book.

Keywords: state of the art; Quellenforschung; Ziegler; popular philosophy; Moralia; practical ethics; close reading; new cultural history; new historicism; speech act

Chapter.  6279 words. 

Subjects: Classical Philosophy

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