Stoic logic (second ed.)

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Using Natural Deduction, Real Arguments, a Little History, and Some Humour

The pieces fall into three subject areas: intellectual and cultural inheritance, ethics, and psychology. Long's Stoic Studies does far more than bring together a set of important papers on Stoicism. Read together, the papers in this collection paint two pictures. One is of the author and his broad-minded pursuit of an intellectual 'fascination,' a pursuit carried out with historical and literary rigour as well as considerable philosophical ingenuity.

The other is of the Stoic school itself, emerging from a passion for Socratic arguments It is a long and remarkably rich philosophical history, and Tony Long has done a very great deal to help others feel its fascination. He has a special gift for combining, in thirty pages or so, an illuminating survey of a topic with at least one sustained analysis of a key text or theory. As a result, this collection has a coherence and internal development that makes it comparable with a good monograph.

Heraclitus and Stoicism. Stoic readings of Homer. Dialectic and the Stoic sage. Arius Didymus and the exposition of Stoic ethics. By taking elements from stored experience and enlarging, shrinking, transposing, or negating parts of the phantasiai it is possible imagine monsters; thus one can produce mental content which has no real object.

For example we can create a mermaid by transposing a body of a fish onto a young woman's torso. Although mermaids and monsters don't exist, we need to explain how non-existing things can be the object of thought and even produce desire or attraction. The Stoics did this by drawing a distinction between the imagined object phantasma , i. We are not attracted to the idea or mental image of the mermaid but to the intentional object of the idea, namely to the mermaid herself.

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Similar distinctions were pursued in the early 20th century by philosophers such as Meninong and Russell. The Stoics made a further distinction in their doctrine of presentations: some presentations are rational, some are not. Rational presentations are limited to human beings and are said to be "thoughts" [ noeseis ]. Thoughts, like other phantasiai , are physical states of the soul- pneuma. The characteristic feature of a rational presentation seems to be its structure or syntax.

Something is said about something, and consequently the thought now has meaning -- and if it is a proposition, it has a truth value associated with it. For example, in the sentence "The cat is black" the thing signified is the black cat; the signifier is the sounds of the words uttered; and finally the thing signified is the content of what is being said, namely, the claim regarding the color of a specific animal.

The latter, the intelligible content of the statement, is called a lekton which is said to subsist with the rational presentation or thought; it is the content which is either true or false, not the object or the sound. A lekton is not a corporeal entity like a thought or the soul; it seems to be a theoretical entity which loosely corresponds to the contemporary notion of a proposition, a statement, or perhaps even the meaning of an utterance.

It is the lekton that makes the sounds of a sentence to be more than just sounds. The doctrine of the lekta has generated much controversy in current scholarship and is recognized to be an important link between Stoic theory of mind and Stoic logic. Although we may entertain and experience all sorts of presentations, we do not necessarily accept or respond to them all. Hence the Stoics held that some phantasiai receive assent and some do not.

Assent occurs when the mind accepts a phantasia as true or more accurately accepts the subsisting lekton as true. Assent is also a specifically human activity, that is, it assume the power of reason. Although the truth value of a proposition is binary, true or false, there are various levels of recognizing truth.

According to the Stoics, opinion doxa is a weak or false belief. The sage avoids opinions by withholding assent when conditions do not permit a clear and certain grasp of the truth of a matter. The kataleptic presentation compels assent by its very clarity and, according to some Stoics, represents the criterion for truth.

The mental act of apprehending the truth in this way was called katalepsis which means having a firm epistemic grasp. The idea of katalepsis as a firm grasp reappears in Zeno's famous analogy of the fist. According to Cicero , Zeno compared the phantasia to an open hand, assent, to a closing hand, the katalepsis, to a closed fist, and knowledge to a closed fist grasped by the other hand. Zeno's analogy however may be a little misleading if the reader assumes there to be a temporal succession and a series of discreet processes.

Other evidence indicates that this is not the point of the analogy. For example, katalepsis was defined as a kind of assent, not as a discrete post-assent process. A katalepsis is an assent to a kataleptic presentation. The point of the fist analogy then seems to be that the central powers of the commanding faculty have different and progressively greater epistemic weight. The analogy emphasizes the epistemic progression from simple presentations to the systematic coherence of knowledge it being confirmed by and consistent with other katalepseis ; the analogy is not fundamentally about the discreteness of the psychological powers.

The emphasis on assent in Stoic psychology and epistemology is an important contribution to ancient philosophy. The Stoics used assent to indicate that a phantasia had been accepted by the mind. It also allows the agent to entertain a cognition while at the same time reject it.

Indeed, philosophical prudence often demands that we withhold assent in cases of doubt. The introduction of assent as a distinct process provided a plausible way to explain how an agent may entertain a specific thought without necessarily accepting it. In addition to epistemology, assent plays an important role in the Stoic theory of action.

Presentational content often provokes an inclination to act by representing something as desirable. The impulse is therefore a sort of call to action which is manifested as a motion of pneuma directed toward the specific organs of action. The basic function of impulse is to initiate motion. When we perceive an object or event in the physical world, a phantasia or presentation is produced in the commanding faculty which is then evaluated by the rational faculty. Depending on the content of the presentation and the individual's conception of what is good, the object of perception may be classified as good, evil, or indifferent.

The faculty of assent in conjunction with reason will accept, reject, or withhold judgement based on the value of the object. If the object is deemed good, an impulse is initiated as a kind of motion in the soul substratum. We have seen that the Stoics held that at birth the soul is free of experiential content. The Stoics, however, did not hold that this excluded the possibility that we are born with innate characteristics and psychological impulses.

The most basic impulse found in new-born creatures is the impulse toward self-preservation. This is the primary human impulse and the starting point of Stoic ethics. This impulse is implanted by Nature and entails a certain consciousness of things appropriate to or belonging to the organism and of things alien or hostile to the creature. In contrast to the Epicureans, who held that the primary impulse was toward pleasure, the Stoics argued that the innate impulse toward self-regard and an awareness of one's own constitution was even more elementary.

This innate impulse explains how animals naturally know how to use their limbs and defensive organs and why it is that animals naturally recognize predators as enemies. Children and animals, however, are not rational; Nature must therefore supply the primary impulse as a foundation for behavior. In the case of animals the innate impulses explain a range of complex behavior, which in many cases appears intelligent.

For example, the Stoics held that a spider does not possess rationality despite the apparently intelligent use of a web to catch insects. Primary impulses in animals are therefore identified with complex instincts. In the case of human beings, primary impulse is ideally a transitional mechanism. As children mature into adults, they develop rationality so that the impulse toward self-preservation falls under the scrutiny of reason.

Rationality permits the agent to develop the notion of duty and virtue, which may at times take precedence over self-preservation. As the agent progresses in virtue and reason, children, family members, neighbors, fellow citizens, and finally all humankind are likewise seen as intrinsically valuable and incorporated into the agent's sphere of concern and interest. Also closely associated with the doctrine of the primary impulse is the Stoic doctrine of preconception [ prolepsis ]. A preconception is an innate disposition to form certain conceptions.

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The most frequently mentioned preconceptions are the concept of the good and the concept of God. Since the Stoics held that the soul is a blank sheet at birth, the preconception cannot be a specific cognition but only an innate disposition to form certain concepts. The final element of Stoic philosophy of mind to be presented in this article is the doctrine of the passions. Plato and Aristotle held that the soul had both rational and irrational parts and used this view to explain mental conflict. For example, the irrational "appetitive part" of the soul may desire a steady diet of rich and fatty foods.

The rational part of the soul, however, will resist the demands of the irrational part since such a diet is unhealthy.

Stoic logic

The result is emotional conflict and in somecases moral conflict. Most Stoics Posidonius being the most famous exception , in contrast, denied the existence of an irrational faculty. However, in order to explain the phenomenon of mental conflict, the Stoics developed a theory of passion which they believed could do the same work as Plato's or Aristotle's.

The Stoics defined passion in several ways, each emphasizing a different facet of the term. The four most common accounts or definitions of passion are:. Each definition emphasizes a different aspect of passion. The first two definitions tell us that a passion is a kind of impulse. The first of these focuses on force. A passion is a runaway impulse or emotion. Chrysippus compared a passion to a person running downhill and unable to stop at will. The soul is carried away by the sheer force and strength of the impulse.

Passions often develop a momentum that cannot easily be stopped. Some texts also emphasize that there is a temporal dimension to passion. The fresher the passion, the stronger the impulse; passions usually weaken over time. The second and third definitions emphasize the logical side of passion. Passions are unruly and contrary to reason. They are based on mistaken thinking or false opinions. The fact that passions are irrational does not mean that they come from an irrational faculty. They can be errors produced by the rational faculty. Having a rational faculty does not imply infallibility.

Rather, it implies that cognitive states are produced through an inferential process which operates with a syntax similar to language. Mathematics operates in a similar fashion. When we make mathematical errors, we do not appeal to a non-mathematic part of the soul which conflicts with the mathematical. Rather we attribute the error to a single, though limited and fallible, rational faculty. The Stoics saw passion in the same way. Passions are false judgements or mistakes in regards to the value of something and are thereby misdirected impulses.

According to Stoic ethics, only virtues are truly good, whereas externals such as wealth, honor, power, and pleasure are indifferent to our happiness since each can also harm us and each ultimately lies beyond our control. These externals then are said to be morally "indifferent" adiaphoron. When we mistakenly value something indifferent as though it were a genuine good, we form a false judgement and experience passion. The traditional Stoic passions can be broken down into four different kinds or classes of errors in judgement.

These errors concern the good and bad value , and the present and the future time :. When one identifies something as good in the present when in fact it is not truly a good we have the passion called pleasure and its subspecies. When we do the same in the future we have appetite.

Likewise when we misidentify something as bad in the present, we experience the passion called distress; when we err regarding something in the future we call it fear. The fourth and final definition of passion as "a fluttering in the soul" is most likely a physical description of passion much as Aristotle describes anger as a boiling of blood around the heart. As corporealists, the Stoics frequently described activities as physical descriptions of the pneuma of the soul. The Stoics defined the individual passions as an irrational swelling or rising [ heparsis ].

When our impulses are excessive and unruly, the pneuma in one's chest canfeel like a fluttering. In contrast, Zeno described happiness, a state which presupposed rationality and virtue, as a smooth flowing soul. The fluttering may also signify the instability of passions as judgements.

How to Use The Philosophy of Stoicism - Gladiator

Chrysippus illustrated emotional disruption caused by the fluttering of passion with the example of Euripides' Medea, who continually flipped back and forth from one judgement to another. These four definitions or descriptions of passion are in agreement though each emphasizes a different aspect of passion. For example, grief over lost or stolen property is considered a passion, a species of distress. Since the object of concern the stolen property is in truth of no moral worth indifferent , for it is only our virtuous response to the situation that qualifies as morally good or bad, the impulse identified with the grief is excessive 1.

Since we do not heed reason which would tell us that happiness lies in virtue alone, it is also an impulse disobedient to reason 2. Likewise, since the value attributed to an object does not represent its true worth, it is a false judgement 3. Finally, the distress which we experience in the grief manifests itself not as a smooth calm state but as a fluttering or disturbance in our soul 4.

If passions are excessive impulses and mistaken judgements resulting in emotional disquietude, there must also be appropriate impulses and correct judgements resulting in emotional peace. It is a mistake to assume that if the Stoics reject passion that they seek a life void of any emotion, that is, that they seek to be emotionally flat. A better reading of Stoicism is that the goal is not absence of emotion, but a well-disposed emotional life. This is a life in which impulses are rational, moderate, and held in check.

It is a state in which one's impulses are appropriate to and consistent with the nature of things, both regarding the truth of the judgement and the degree of the response. This view is supported by the Stoic doctrine of the eupatheiai. Calling positive emotions "good-passions" may have been an attempt to rectify the misrepresentation of their school as being void of emotion.

Joy is said to be the counterpart of pleasure, caution is contrasted with fear, and reasonable wishing is contrasted with appetite. The difference is that in the eupatheiai the force of the impulse is appropriate to the value of the object, the impulse is consistent with rational behavior, and finally the belief or judgement regarding the nature of the object is true.

What is wrong with lekta? Ancient critics of Stoic logic and language

One should note that there are only three categories for the eupatheiai in contrast to the four for passions. There is no eupatheia corresponding to distress. This is due to the Stoic conception of moral invincibility. Distress was defined as an incorrect judgement regarding a present evil. The Stoics, however, held that the good lies not in external events or objects but in the virtuous response of the moral agent to any situation. Since it is always possible to respond virtuously, there is no true evil in the present.

The good is always possible here and now. Scott Rubarth Email: srubarth rollins. Stoic Philosophy of Mind Stoicism was one of the most important and enduring philosophies to emerge from the Greek and Roman world. Introduction Greek and Roman philosophers did not recognize philosophy of mind as a distinct field of study. Philosophy of Mind and the Parts of Philosophy The ancient Greek concept of soul differs in many ways from the modern post-Cartesian idea of mind.

Philosophy of Mind and Stoic Physics a. Pneuma and Tension, and the Scala naturae Pneuma was the central theoretical tool of both Stoic physics and Stoic psychology. Death The doctrine of pneuma and total blending allowed the Stoics to adopt Plato's definition of death as "the separation of the soul from the body. The Parts of the Soul The pneuma of the soul has a specific structure which helps account for its capacities.

Philosophy of Mind and Stoic Logic a. Impulse, Assent, and Action Although we may entertain and experience all sorts of presentations, we do not necessarily accept or respond to them all. Philosophy of Mind and Stoic Ethics a. Primary Impulse and Prolepsis We have seen that the Stoics held that at birth the soul is free of experiential content. Passion and Eupatheia The final element of Stoic philosophy of mind to be presented in this article is the doctrine of the passions.

The four most common accounts or definitions of passion are: An excessive impulse. An impulse disobedient to the dictates of reason. A false judgement or opinion. A fluttering [ ptoia ] of the soul. These errors concern the good and bad value , and the present and the future time : Present Future Good Pleasure Appetite Bad Distress Fear When one identifies something as good in the present when in fact it is not truly a good we have the passion called pleasure and its subspecies.

References and Further Reading a.

Collections of Stoic texts Clark, Gordon H. Selections From Hellenistic Philosophy. New York: Croft. Edelstein, L. The Fragments, 4 vols. Cambridge: University Press. Die Fragmente zur Dialektik der Stoiker. Stuttgart: Frommann-Holzboog. Inwood, Brad and Gerson, L. Hellenistic Philosophy: Introductory Readings, 2nd edition. Indianapolis: Hackett. Long, A. The Hellenistic Philosophers, 2 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Saunders, Jason L. Greek and Roman Philosophy after Aristotle. New York: Free Press. Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta.

Leipzig: Teubner. The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy. Annas, Julia. Hellenistic Philosophy of Mind. Berkeley: University of California Press. Arthur, E. Brennan, Tad. Brunschwig, Jacques. Papers in Hellenistic Philosophy. Translated by Janet Lloyd. Brunschwig, J.

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Proceedings of the Fifth Symposium Hellenisticum. Caston, Victor. Chiesa, M. Cooper, John. Doty, Ralph. The Criterion of Truth. American University Studies. Series V Philosophy, vol. New York: Peter Lang. Engberg-Pedersen, Troels. Everson, Stephen. Companions to Ancient Thought. Frede, Michael. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. Gill, Christopher. Glibert-Thirry, A. Gould, J. The Philosophy of Chrysippus. Leiden: Brill. Hahm, David E. The Origins of Stoic Cosmology. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.

Numéros en texte intégral

Imbert, Claude. Ingenkamp, Heinz Gerd. Inwood, Brad. Ethics and Human Action in Early Stoicism. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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