Plutarch as a Philosopher in Society

Lieve Van Hoof

in Plutarch's Practical Ethics

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199583263
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723131 | DOI:
Plutarch as a Philosopher in Society

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This chapter explores Plutarch's self-presentation and agenda as an author. By using the philosophical, historical, and literary tradition in order to confer authority on himself as a philosopher, Plutarch presents himself in and through his practical ethics as the one and only philosopher his elite readers should need. In this way, he promotes philosophy at the expense of competing cultural agents such as orators or doctors, and he promotes himself as compared to other philosophers. This also nuances his elitism: socially he is of course an elitist, but not in a self-evident or straightforward way. Rather, he opens up a debate about different kinds of intellectual and cultural authority, and offers a distinctive view of what elite culture should be like. This is a view that promotes his own position in society, and that therefore shows him to be a sophistic(ated) social player.

Keywords: author; self-presentation; tradition; authority; elite; sophistic; rhetoric; medicine; philosophy; debate

Chapter.  6549 words. 

Subjects: Classical Philosophy

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