European Dream City
Notes on the Stoic Idea of the City
By Malcolm Schofield,
Press Cambridge University
The Stoic Definition of the City (1st and 2nd centuries A.D.)
The City is a group of people who live in the same place by the same rules.
Characteristics of the City according to the Stoic Philosophy
- Reason VS Absurdity
- Lawfulness VS Corruption
- Moral Integrity VS Chaos
- Justice VS Injustice
Thus, this city concept is utopian because no such perfect city could ever exist on earth where people are corrupted.
Hence, such a perfect city could only exist in Heaven.
It has never existed so far (it is not a historic utopia)
nor could it ever exist in the future (neither a futuristic utopia).
Comparison of the
Concept to other city utopias Stoic City
(The Divine Trinity is Love, Peace, Justice and all people partake in this supreme bliss) is a religious utopia of Father-Child relationship based on naturally inherited wisdom and virtue. Christian Heavenly Kingdom
- Plato’s Politeia (only the leaders are wise and moral) is a political utopia of leader and citizen relationship based on mutual respect of human rights.
Question: Which of the above UTOPIAS is more similar to the stoic utopia?
The cosmopolitan City of the Stoics
The cosmopolitan citizen is the citizen of the world or the citizen of the Universe.
This is the basis of the theological theory of the City as proposed by the Stoics.
It can be understood with the help of four assumptions as regards:
- the existence of Gods (Gods exist alongside nature)
- the nature of Gods (they are good, friendly, beneficial and just)
- their role as leaders of the Universe (they organize life in the City according to the divine Law)
- their interference with human affairs (they govern human life according to the principle of Divine Providence and participate in it as they share the City with humans)
All creatures (both animate and inanimate) have been created by the Gods for the sake of both Gods and human beings. The City is a common residence of Gods and humans. This is because only Gods and humans have the Reason, the sense of Justice and Lawfulness necessary to be considered as citizens. Thus, the City is understood as the organization principle of the life of humans according to Reason, Justice and Lawfulness. It is a Community of Gods and humans or the Common Ground between those who share Reason, Justice and Lawfulness.
Question: What do the above ideas remind you of and why?