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Modern Appraisals of the Hellenistic Legacy

This page is part of the Monash site for the "Prospects for an Ethics of Self-Cultivation" project

This CFA as a PDF

Date: 29 June–1 July 2015
Location: Monash University Prato Centre

Philosophical interest in the ethical ideal of self-cultivation has increased in recent years as philosophers have sought alternatives to deontological and utilitarian theories. This interest has been most evident in the widespread revival of virtue ethics, although contemporary virtue ethicists tend to focus on Aristotle’s account of character development. Despite the contemporary emphasis on Aristotle, philosophers in the modern European tradition, including those below, have been influenced by other notions of self-cultivation that were taught during the Hellenistic period.

  • Spinoza (cultivating joyful affects)
  • Rousseau (On Education)
  • Kant (The Doctrine of Virtue)
  • Schopenhauer (on the Stoics)
  • Emerson (friendship)
  • Guyau (La Morale d’Epicure)
  • Camus (Lyrical and Critical Essays)
  • Hadot (Hellenistic therapies)

Each of these thinkers drew upon the philosophical resources of Hellenistic philosophy to develop their own accounts of self-cultivation. We suggest that investigating the Hellenistic legacy in these and other thinkers in the modern European tradition will deepen and expand our understanding of ethical self-cultivation and contribute to its revival in contemporary virtue ethics.

We invite papers suitable for 30-minute presentation on Hellenistic self-cultivation and its reception by the modern European tradition. Abstracts of up to 300 words should be sent to arts-selfcultivation at monash dot edu by 31st March 2015. We particularly encourage submissions from graduate students and early-career researchers.

Confirmed Participants

Prospects for an Ethics of Self-Cultivation is supported by the Monash-Warwick Alliance, the Department of Philosophy at the University of Warwick, and the Philosophy Department at Monash University.


 Project Members
Warwick 2014
Prato 2015