Monday, April 29, 2013
Craft: The Terminology of Stoicism
As Jacob Needleman and John P. Piazza note in their book, The Essential Marcus Aurelius, one of the essential terms of Marcus Aurelius' writings on Stoicism is "craft," also translated "skill" or "art," the original Greek term being technē. Those authors note: "It refers to what we would call the arts as well as various skills or crafts. The Greeks and Romans did not distinguish between the art of carpentry, for example, and a 'fine art' like scupture or painting. Some have translated this word as 'know-how'." This raises the question - is Stoicism a fine art? A craft? A skill? How does one define it. In the 21st century, far too many of us are accustomed to thinking of "philosophy" as an empty intellectual exercise, but Stoics are reminded that Stoicism is a tool for living, a technique, very close in some ways to a craft or skill. Perhaps it could be said that Stoicism teaches you how to make your life into an art . . .