Sexual indulgement in Musonius Rufus

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Abstract

My main argument is that our understanding of Musonius’ contribution to Stoic sexual ethics must be additionally informed by contemporary debates on the use of metaphors to articulate philosophical progress. The role of metaphors in philosophical discourse for which Plato was criticized already during his time, was thrust at the heart of the debate between Plato’s successors and the Stoics who proposed as our guide to truth the concept of kataleptike phantasia (cognitive impression) – a concept thoroughly informed by figurative language. Musonius rejects sexual pleasure as truphē (excess) – and later in the text as ἡδονὴ, qualified as conceited (ψιλὴ in 12.9 = Lutz 1947, 86.7) and shameful (αἰσχρὰ 12.27 = Lutz 1947, 88.25 ), in acknowledgment of its deep-rooted negative connotations which render it unsuitable to express philosophical fervor. The argument had been already advanced by Cicero, whose authority on Roman Stoics is pervasive, and was echoed by thinkers such as Plutarch and later, Galen.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBrill's companion to Musonius Rufus
EditorsJohn Sellars, Liz Gloyn
PublisherBrill
Number of pages30
Publication statusSubmitted - 2022

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