391. Everything is Mine and Nothing: Lipsius and the Revival of Stoicism

Posted on 27 February 2022

Justus Lipsius draws on Seneca and other Stoics to counsel peace of mind in the face of political chaos, but also writes a work on how such chaos can be avoided.

Further Reading

• J. Stradling (trans.), J. Sellars (ed.), Justus Lipsius: On Constancy (Exeter: 2006).

• J. Wasinck (ed. and trans.), Justus Lipsius: Politica, Six Books of Politics or Political Instruction (Assen: 2004).


• G. Oestreich, Neostoicism and the Early Modern State (Cambridge: 1982)

• E. De Bom et al. (eds), (Un)masking the Realities of Power: Justus Lipsius and the Dynamics of Political Writing in Early Modern Europe (Leiden: 2010).

J. Lagrée, Juste Lipse et la restauration du stoïcisme (Paris: 1994).

J. Lagrée, Le néostoïcisme (Paris: 2010).

• J. Papy, “Lipsius’ (Neo-)Stoicism: Constancy between Christian Faith and Stoic Virtue,” in H.W. Blom and L.C. Winkel (eds), Grotius and the Stoa (Assen: 2004), 47-73.

• J.L. Saunders, Justus Lipsius: the Philosophy of Renaissance Stoicism (New York: 1955).

• J. Sellars, “Stoic Fate in Justus Lipsius’s De Constantia and Physiologia Stoicorum,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 52 (2014), 653-74.


Kevin O'Meara 7 March 2022

You mentioning that you'll cover the French Reformation in future episodes got me excited, and made me check out the timeline to see if some of my faves were going to be covered. Of course Montaigne will warrant his own episode, and I hope Rabelais makes notable appearance, but I couldn't help but notice the absence of Estienne de la Boétie. Despite only really authoring Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, I have come to see the text as a turning point in political philosophy nearly at the level of Machiavelli's Prince. I know it's late in the process and you can't cover literally every philosopher, but I hope Boétie gets his due!

Oh yes, thanks for noticing that! I will cover him when I do the topics of tyrannicide and Huguenot political thought but it is an oversight that he's not on the timeline. I'll add him.

PS: In general the timeline is only an imperfect guide to who I'll be covering, since I often add figures as I go along.

David Emery 8 March 2022

As a long time listener of this podcast, this seems a good place to say thank you, as this is one figure I'd been especially looking forward to hearing you cover. Speaking as someone who's interested in the ongoing revival of Stoicism, Justus Lipsius is a historical figure who's largely absent from our contemporary discussions, and he's a relatively challenging figure to learn about (at least for those of us without good access to academic texts), so it's very helpful to hear you put him into context. Before this episode I'd read his de Constantia and found it frankly a little disappointing that he didn't take stronger positions where Stoicism and Christianity, or particular Christian doctrines were in conflict, but considering his life in context that's much more understandable now. Thank you again for this episode and the podcast in general, and I'm looking forward to the second interview with Dr. Sellars very much!

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