Individuality and hierarchy in Cicero’s De Officiis

European Journal of Political Theory 19 (1):87-105 (2020)
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This essay explores a creative argument that Cicero offers to answer a fundamental question: how are we to judge among different ways of life? Is there a natural hierarchy of human types? In response to this problem, Cicero gives an account of a person’s possessing two natures. All of us participate in a general human nature, the characteristics of which provide us with certain universal duties and a natural moral hierarchy. But, we also each possess an individual nature, qualities that make us unique and which we have an obligation to cultivate. By employing different concepts of natura to refer either to common human nature or to particular individual nature, Cicero establishes a basis for a normative standard that manages to affirm the superiority of certain especially valuable types of life, such as the philosopher and the statesman. At the same time, he advances a coherent account of individuality that places high value on natural human diversity.



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A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
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