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Bruce Robbins, Paulo Lemos Horta, and Kwame Anthony Appiah

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479829682

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479829682.001.0001

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A Stoic Critique of Cosmopolitanism

A Stoic Critique of Cosmopolitanism

(p.171) 13 A Stoic Critique of Cosmopolitanism

Phillip Mitsis

NYU Press

Phillip Mitsis offers a polemical corrective to the uses of ancient philosophy in the influential reformulations of cosmopolitanism by Kwame Anthony Appiah and Martha Nussbaum. Appiah and Nussbaum deploy the Stoics in the service of liberal and progressive conceptions of cosmopolitanism. According to Mitsis, however, their readings reverse the Stoics’ original meaning. Commenting on Zeno’s biography of Alexander the Great, the Stoics admired Alexander as conqueror. He accomplished, they thought, what the philosophers could not, bringing different peoples under the same system of law. Those who see cosmopolitanism today as Western imperialism in liberal disguise would recognize the precedent.

Keywords:   Stoicism, Alexander the Great, empire, Western imperialism

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