Platonism, Christianity, Stoicism: The Subject, The Truth, And The Political Import Of Their Relationship In Three Traditions

  • Robin Weiss The American University in Cairo
Keywords: askêsis, hermeneutics, epimeleia, metanoia, self-knowledge


Foucault has been criticized for overlooking the similarities among Platonism, Christianity and Stoicism, and overstating Stoicism’s distinctness.  However, an examination of Stoic theories of truth shows that the Stoics sought out a particular kind of knowledge, and that this knowledge was necessarily sought by means of a certain circular process, to which Foucault himself vaguely alludes.  This accounts for many of Foucault’s observations, and explains why, even when Stoics speak about such topics as self-knowledge and self-renunciation in ways that recall Platonism and Christianity, their approach is rightly characterized as differing from that of their Platonic and Christian counterparts.  Ultimately, this sheds light on Stoicism’s import for politics.  In short, only by the Stoic will the search for truth be carried out in such a way that the individual’s identity will neither reinforce, nor be reinforced by his or her grasp of the truth; and this will uniquely prepare the Stoic to enter the political domain and to be recognized there as someone who speaks the truth.

Author Biography

Robin Weiss, The American University in Cairo
Robin Weiss is now a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Philosophy at the American University in Cairo. Her publications on Stoicism include “In Cicero’s De Finibus, An Ars Vitae Between Technê and Theôria.” and “Cicero’s Stoic Friend as Resolution to the Paradoxes of Platonic Love: De Amicitia Alongside the Symposium” in the recently published Ancient and Medieval Conceptions of Friendship.
Section in collaboration with Foucault Circle