Non-Christian Philosophers and Ethics

I am thinking about people just around the time of Christianity’s start like Plutarch, Marcus Aurelius and his teacher Epictetus. Christians were around at the time, but hardly noticed. Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius both make only a one sentence mention of Christians and IT IS THE SAME SENTENCE “Whatever you do, do NOT go about as those Christians do with a sour-puss expression on your face.” To REALLY see human thought free of any Christian influence then we must go FURTHER back. The sixth century BCE saw Siddhartha Gautama in India and the pre-Socratics I suppose in Greece, and Lao-Tse in China. We see talk of human suffering and ways to escape it with Buddha. We see the 33rd stanza of the Tao saying “He who knows how to be content with whatsoever he has has attained true wealth.” And the pre-Socratics were thinking about panta rei “all things flow” and more abstract matters which did not pertain to individual virtues or vices nor did it give much regard to the sufferings of the poor. We do see the opening of Herodotus with that question of who is the most happy and we are told that one must see whether they have a noble or ignoble end to their life. We see Telemachus question a stranger asking if they are perhaps a murderer or brigand but we see no abhorrence of theft or murder. In fact, Odysseus is OFFERED ETERNAL life by that one goddess who proposes to feed him the food of the Gods but he turns it down.

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