Theses Doctoral

Paradox and the Fool in Seneca

McVane, Samuel

This dissertation argues that Seneca’s philosophical program and literary artistry are jointly coordinated to address and redress the pervasive experience of subverted expectations, i.e. the experience of paradoxicality, attributed to the unwise by Seneca’s Stoic philosophy. With a focus on Seneca’s Epistulae Morales, I suggest that Seneca’s oft-noted paradoxical style reveals and is meant to reflect our fundamentally inconsistent (and thus dissatisfying) experience engendered, in his view, by the incoherency of our worldviews. While, as Seneca explores, our minds’ operations hide this distressing contradiction from our attention, Seneca’s subtle but steady exposure of it and its source attempts to work against this self-deception. The intended result for the reader is the recognition of their own role in their dissatisfaction and the resulting commitment to its remedy through philosophical training.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Classical Studies
Thesis Advisors
Vogt, Katja M.
Williams, Gareth D.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 19, 2018