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Title: John Locke’s Stoicism: Grief, Apathy and Sympathy
Authors: Di Biase, Giuliana
Keywords: Lockestoicismmedicinegriefapathysympathy
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Giuliana Di Biase, "John Locke’s Stoicism: Grief, Apathy and Sympathy", in: "Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2016) XVIII/2", Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2016, pp. 215-239
Series/Report no.: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics
(2016) XVIII/2
Locke’s conception of passions was more representative of the Christian doctrine than of Stoicism, though surely the latter deeply influenced his moral thought: the “extreme” happiness he referred to in the Essay as the supreme end of human life contrasted with Stoical moderation, and the important role he attributed to passions in the economy of salvation was irreconcilable with the Stoic notion of passion as perturbationes animi. In the Essay, Locke rejected Stoical insensibility manifesting his adhesion to the Christian tradition, which considered apátheia as incompatible with Christian views on emotions. However, Locke’s correspondence shows the powerful attraction which Stoic apathy exerted on his thought with reference to one particular passion, grief, whose unhealthy consequences were strongly emphasised in the medical literature of his time. The irrationality of indulging in grief is a topic to which Locke appealed in almost all the letters of condolence he wrote to his friends; he clearly conceived Stoic insensibility as recommendable when experiencing bereavement. The scarce empathy which he manifested towards the bereaved suggests that he might have feared the contagion of grief: this explains why Christian sympathy has no place in Locke’s morals, and why he did not conceive of compassion as a Christian duty.
Type: Book
ISSN: 1825-5167
Appears in Collections:Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2016) XVIII/2

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