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HOW THE STOICS BECAME ATHEISTS

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 June 2006

CHRISTOPHER BROOKE
Affiliation:
Magdalen College, Oxford

Abstract

In the middle of the seventeenth century, scholarship on ancient Stoicism generally understood it to be a form of theism. By the middle of the eighteenth century, Stoicism was widely (though not universally) reckoned a variety of atheism, both by its critics and by those more favourably disposed to its claims. This article describes this transition, the catalyst for which was the controversy surrounding Spinoza's philosophy, and which was shaped above all by contemporary transformations in the historiography of philosophy. Particular attention is paid to the roles in this story played by Thomas Gataker, Ralph Cudworth, J. F. Buddeus, Jean Barbeyrac, and J. L. Mosheim, whose contributions collectively helped to shape the way in which Stoicism was presented in two of the leading reference works of the Enlightenment, J. J. Brucker's Critical History of Philosophy and the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d'Alembert.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2006 Cambridge University Press

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Footnotes

My thanks go to Neven Leddy, A. A. Long, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Josephine Quinn, Patrick Riley, Richard Tuck, William Whyte, and an anonymous reviewer for various assistance along the way, and to the staff and scholars of the British School at Rome, in whose library the earliest version of this article was written in September 2002.
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