Stoicism and Epicureanism

Christopher Gill

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Emotion

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199235018
Published online January 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Stoicism and Epicureanism


Stoicism and, to some extent, Epicureanism are striking examples of (what we now call) ‘cognitive’ theories of emotion, which stress the role of belief and intention in shaping emotional reactions. This feature has sometimes been seen as a ground of criticism of the theories, especially of the Stoic version, both in antiquity and in some modern discussions. But contemporary interest in cognitive theories of emotion has given fresh relevance to these ancient ideas, along with the cognitive dimension in some other ancient ideas of emotion, including those of Plato and Aristotle. This article brings out the cognitive dimension in the Stoic and Epicurean theories of emotion, while also locating this feature in a more comprehensive account of their thinking about emotion. Their theories of emotion are analysed here in terms of the intersection of four, partly overlapping, categories or branches of theory.

Keywords: Stoicism; Epicureanism; theories of emotion; emotional reactions; cognitive theory; belief and intention

Article.  11453 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind

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