Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Plaisir et amitié dans les Lettres à Lucilius

Carlos Lévy


Pleasure is in Stoicism a negative passion, i.e. a disease of soul. At the contrary, joy is an eupatheia, a positive passion, that can be found only in the sage. As a concept, friendship is less present in this doctrine than in Epicureanism, but it can have a positive meaning, since true friendship is a feature of the sage. How does this two realities coexist in Senecas Letters? As a Stoic, but also as a Roman, both traditional and atypical, Seneca denies that pleasure, at least in its common meaning, could be an element of friendship and there is no trace in his Letters of what Greek philosophers called pedagogical erôs. From this point of view, he excludes uoluptas from amicitia. But, at the same time, he admits a kind of reflexive pleasure, that is to say the pleasure of having a soul free from common pleasures, and he uses uoluptas with the meaning of gaudium. This confusion establishes a kind of continuum, with a qualitative shift, in ethical life, from the errors of the stultus to the perfection of the sage.

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