Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Tim O'Keefe

Second Advisor

Eddy Nahmias

Third Advisor

Andrea Scarantino


In his book, A New Stoicism, Lawrence A. Becker sides with Posidonius, and against Chrysippus and others, on the issue of whether the sage will experience passions. The Posidonian position is that the sage will experience conflicting passions but will, nevertheless, overcome those passions through his or her perfected agency. In opposition, Chrysippus and others assert that the sage will have extirpated all his or her passions as a necessary precondition for achieving sagehood. I will argue that a body of neuroscientific evidence chiefly concerned with the effects of lesions to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) supports Becker’s assertion that Chrysippus’ call for the extirpation of the passions is neither plausible nor desirable. Recent empirical discoveries support Posidonius’ view of the role of the passions in the virtuous life.