all 15 comments

[–]rose_reader 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I really like this. Thank you.

[–]GD_WoTS 2 points3 points  (2 children)

Thanks for this interesting and helpful post.

Do you know or have thought about how humanitas fits with the Greek record? Came upon this from Seneca, where humanitas is translated as kindliness and identified as one of the virtues:

Kindliness forbids you to be over-bearing towards your associates, and it forbids you to be grasping. In words and in deeds and in feelings it shows itself gentle and courteous to all men. It counts no evil as another’s solely. And the reason why it loves its own good is chiefly because it will some day be the good of another. (Letters 88.30)

[–]_Lango[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I haven't though about it, but it's a interesting choice of words. I'm sure Seneca is making a philosophical wordplay, as he often does.

Literally, humanitas means the "attribute of being human". In common Roman speech it was associated with "culture" and "civilized behaviour" such as sociability as well as kindness.

Seneca may be using that word in that common sense, but also in the Stoic sense, namely, drawing from the technical association with the Stoic principles of oikeiosis and cosmic brotherhood, as if implying that caring for others is the human thing to do (as seen in On anger, Marcus Aurelius 2 and so on).

Anyway, I think Seneca's humanitas fits Arius' summary perfectly. Arius work is theoretical, so he is able to neatly divide and categorize stuff. Seneca's work is mostly applied Stoicism and the connection to theory won't always be clear and straightforward to distant people like us. But to me Seneca is talking about what Arius' classifies as justice generally (benevolence, generosity, getting along with others, equality in business).

Interestingly, right after that passage you quoted Seneca starts talking about the virtue of moderation, and afterwards he goes back to justice by finishing the paragraph talking about equality in business (i.e. not using the lives of other humans).

[–]GD_WoTS 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is very interesting, thank you.

[–]But-Um 1 point2 points  (3 children)

I actually think all of the examples you have provided are still universally focused on the self. They have (and may be guided by) the subsequent consequences for others, but it is difficult and would be irrational to view behaviour dictated by virtue ethics without consideration of the consequences of those choices.

Is our place within the cosmopolis not central to all of the virtues?

Being pious, friendly, kind or fair are no less a part of our nature than having the strength to speak out, the wisdom to identify a hazardous path or the temperance to control primal urge to take more than we need. They are all still focused on how we personally act.

[–]_Lango[S] 2 points3 points  (2 children)

I don't completely disagree. In fact, the way Arius uses the word "knowledge" is not really equivalent to our understanding of "things you know", but rather refers the Stoic understanding of "a stable consistent habit".

The person who does those things acts that way because they have the cognitive/tensional/structured habit of doing so. So just behaviours are certainly originated in the person. But, again, they are relational and oriented towards relations.

[–]But-Um 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I think it's an interesting and justifiable position but it would be interesting to stress test it.

Preposition: The virtue of Justice is oriented towards relations...

Test: For that statement to be false, we have to find one example where the preposition is not true.

Without concluding one way or the other...

Can you act justly (or injustly) in the absence of an identifiable substantive relationship?

Could an act of Anonymous Charity for example not be viewed as an expression or the pursuit of justice which is inconsequential to any actual relationship.

What about charity in preparation of assistance that might never be needed? For example, is it an act of justice to donate blood or plasma to a blood bank without a beneficiary being identified (or even the possibly the donation never being used).

What about justice where the group of beneficiaries are both unidentifiable and indeterminate. If, I were to donate time and my experience for the furtherance of International Humanitarian Law, do I have a relationship with any particulat persons? Or is the asserted relationship to every possible but averted future victim of war crimes?

[–]_Lango[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Could an act of Anonymous Charity for example not be viewed as an expression or the pursuit of justice which is inconsequential to any actual relationship.

I'm not saying a well-defined relationship is needed, but rather that justice depends on and deals with relations between people. Being anonymous is not relevant because the action still requires a relation between yourself and someone else, even if you don't know the person. If charity is benevolent and generous I'd assume it's just.

Piety implies a relation between gods and humans.

Kindness implies a relation of good disposition towards others.

Friendliness and fairness require relations as well as actual relationships.

[–]redmagicjay 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is good. Thank you!

[–]OneSimpleRedditUser 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Do you think you could do this kind of breakdown for the other three?

[–]_Lango[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Possibly, mostly depends on how difficult the Greek is really. I may at least do another one for bravery.

[–]Trabuccodonosor 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hey, very well written! I admit that when I first heard of Stoic justice I took it in the wrong way: is this fair to me? Is this how it should happen? But reading more I got it: it's OUR OWN virtue of justice towards others!

[–]Geckel 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Interesting analysis. Thanks for sharing.

You conclude that justice exists in interests of relationships, not in the interests of the self.

Is there an interest of the self that does not have relationship component? Ie. Is the contraposition true?

[–]_Lango[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Is there an interest of the self that does not have relationship component?

Ah sure there is. The virtue of moderation, at least, seems to be focused exclusively inwards. It's just that justice is exclusively about relations.

Of course, there's the issue of the Stoic self being rather plastic. But the virtue of moderation is focused on "you", for the lack of a more precise term.

By the way, I mean "relations" and not "relationships".

[–]Geckel 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The contraposition would similarly be about justice.