Mapping Seneca : cognitive cartography and moral imagination in the Natural Questions
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This dissertation focuses on how Seneca creates a map of the world that defies human limitations and control, thereby instilling within the reader an understanding of self-knowledge. I argue that Seneca "maps" the world from two perspectives (sense perception and cognition) in order to instruct his reader about the faultiness of sense perception, which affects his perspective of himself and his place within the cosmos. Bound by the physical limitations of sense perception, the reader struggles to shed his misperception and preconceived notions of the world and himself. As he progresses on his philosophical journey through the Natural Questions, he is carried away from the sordid, terrestrial realm where natural phenomena are easily accessible to perception (terrestrial waters, for example) to the imperceptible realms (celestial fires) where he must rely upon cognition. In the end, by mapping mankind within the world, Seneca is in effect defining what it means to be human.
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