Debate or Guidance? Cicero on Philosophy

Author: Schofield, Malcolm
Title: Debate or Guidance? Cicero on Philosophy
Review/Collection: in Garani, Myrto, Konstan David, Reydams-Schils, Gretchen (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Roman Philosophy
Place edition: Oxford
Year edition: 2023
Pages: 119-142
Keywords: Philosophie - Filosofia - Philosophy
Description: Cicero recognizes a tension between the needs of philosophy as guidance and the vigorous disagreement that is the lifeblood of philosophical debate. This chapter explores his handling of the problem in four of his political and ethical writings. First tackled is a remarkable passage from Book 1 of De legibus, where on fundamentals of public policy silencing of debate is advocated. Next comes a quick look at Book 3 of De republica, where by contrast Cicero stages a confrontation between two views on political justice. Then comes an examination of the complex differing attempts he makes in the Tusculan Disputations to harmonize conflicting philosophical positions in the service of ethical guidance for the individual. Finally, Cicero’s approach to individual guidance in a different literary genre is briefly considered, as exemplified by De officiis, where debate is alluded to but not conducted. Some concluding remarks round off the chapter.
Author initials: Schofield 2023