The World Explored, the World Suffered Education Issue Nr. 30 May 2020 - Page 26

political and ethical writings of Kant: these forms as we know resulted in two world wars and a number of uses of weapons of mass destruction in the twentieth century (signifying, according to the writings of Hannah Arendt, either a, or, the failure of the nation-state system). Life under other forms of government larger than the city-state had certainly proved to be problematic as predicted by the Greek city-state philosophers. The suggestion by Brett that the Epicurean and Stoic responses to the loss of the city-state were similar, is, however, deeply problematic and overlooks a number of differences. The Stoic position, like the position of Kant, culminated in a far- sighted vision of the development of communities or societies, a position that posited the actualization of an ideal of a cosmopolitan man that transcended the relativistic consequences of individualism. This ideal for Kant lay one hundred thousand years in the future during a time when reason would be embraced by all the men of the species, thus acknowledging the limitations of all forms of community and life up until that time. Both Kant and the Stoics fixed upon the only realistic attitude to cope with such a state of affairs, namely the unselfish devotion to duty that Brett mentioned above. In neither of these positions is there any logical room for the relativism of an individual -based ethics as there is in Epicureanism that had its roots in both materialism and sophism. Here, the pursuit of happiness and the avoidance of pain was the perfect theory for an animal satisfied with the status quo of his communities and forms of life. Epicureanism was a philosophy that could not see or explain the large-scale changes that were on the horizon of the times. The suggestion in Brett is that this position led to that of English and American Utilitarianism and the continued and sustained antagonism between these positions and the deontological position of Kant ought to have caused Brett to pause before issuing the judgment that the Epicurean and Stoic positions are similarly individualistic. Epicureanism and Utilitarianism are undoubtedly rugged individualistic philosophies and they would seem to allow, for example, a drug addict to continue his addiction to his inevitable death without any ethical intervention. For both the Stoics and Kant, allowing this suffering to go on without any ethical attempt to place the individual in the restricted environment of a drug rehabilitation program, would have been a dereliction of duty, a violation of the categorical imperatives insistence that suicide by someone incapable of using their rational powers is a form of practical contradiction of the meaning of life. There is no freedom principle operating in Stoic ethics because it too shared a form of commitment to determinism and a form of materialism (different to the Epicureans) but for Kant the freedom of the individual does not stretch to allowing that individual to remove a fundamental condition of his freedom, namely his life, without a good reason(the kind of reason only a wise man could give): especially not in the circumstances envisaged where the continued use of drugs have impaired the agents ability to use his powers of reason. Of course, the problem of people killing themselves