Law, Reason, and the Cosmic City

Katja M. Vogt, Law, Reason, and the Cosmic City. Oxford University Press, 2008.


–  The book is a comprehensive study of early Stoic political philosophy. It considers the conceptions of the cosmic city and the common law as central to the Stoics’ theory, and discusses how these conceptions are integral to Stoic thought on reason, wisdom, and life in agreement with nature. Accordingly, the book devotes detailed attention to central areas of Stoic philosophy, such as the theory of affiliation (oikeiôsis), appropriate and perfect action, epistemology, and theology. The book discusses competing interpretations of Stoic cosmopolitanism, arguing that the ideal city of the early Stoics is the cosmos and thus is already in existence. All human beings live in the cosmic city, but only the wise and the gods are its citizens. The book devotes equal attention to the interpretation of the Stoics’ conception of law. To live by the law, it is argued, is to live by nature, in a way which relies on understanding what is of value to human beings, rather than on following a set of rules. Against the view that early Stoic thought about these issues is best described as exploring an ideal for individual agents, the book argues that the Stoics are offering a theory which, while deeply connected with the core concerns of Stoic ethics, can be considered a genuine contribution to political philosophy.

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