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Greek and Roman Stoicism

Preface: Stoicism was a living philosophy, developed in many variations by creative thinkers, for almost 500 hundred years, from about 300 B.C. to A.D. 180 But this page is mostly about the earlier Stoa of Greece. It is taken from the work of two modern historians and from the third century historian of philosophy Diogenes Laertius (who gives a long account of the Stoic's propositional logic), about which I have made comments.

Albert Schweitzer, whose concern was Ethics, often acknowledged his great debt to the Stoic school, but I think mostly to the later Stoicism of Rome, as well as to the early Chinese thinkers, although he was never able to justify to himself through thought the pantheism of the Stoics nor the optimistic Nature philosophy of China.

Outline of this page ...


Short Summary by Will Durant

Source: Life of Greece (1939)

"Stoicism is the last effort of antiquity to find a natural ethic." (p. 650) Zeno of Citium (c. 336-264 B.C.) "must have read Heraclitus receptively, for he incorporated ... the Divine Fire as the soul of man and of the cosmos, the eternity of law [Logos], and the repeated creation and conflagration of the world. But it was his custom to say that he owed most of all to Socrates" (p. 651); he had turned to philosophy c. 314 upon reading Xenophon's Memorabilia (p. 650). In 301 B.C. he established the Stoic school at Athens, walking "up and down under the colonnades of the Stoa Poecile [Poikile], or [Painted] Porch" (p. 651).

The Stoic system can be divided into logic (The earlier name for 'logic' is 'dialectic'), natural science and ethics.

"Knowledge arises only out of the senses", although human reason (which is "a seed from the Logos Spermatikos, or Seminal Reason, that" designed and guides the world) must watch over "emotion or passion, which may distort experience into error." (p. 652)

Cosmology

The whole of reality -- i.e. everything -- "is at once completely material and inherently divine" (p. 652). The Stoics "conceived the world, law, life, the soul, and destiny in terms of God, and defined morality as a willing surrender to the divine will".

Ethics

"There is no contradiction between the good of the individual and the good of the" universe. "If evil comes to the good man ..." but "if we could understand the whole we should see ..." etc. (Chrysippus says things like that bedbugs are good because they keep us from sleeping too much, and wars get rid of overpopulation (p. 655n).) The good man is the one who co-operates with "God or Nature or the Law of the World" which are, of course, all the same thing (p. 654); the good man seeks out this law and adapts his life to it. "He will suppress all feeling that may ... question the wisdom of Nature"; indeed, he "will seek so complete an apatheia, or absence of feeling, that his mind will be secure against" any and every circumstance.

The Stoics ultimate loyalty is to his ideal of an egalitarian cosmopolis of philosophers where "all men would be brothers as the children of one God"; though he conceives perfection not in terms of a good society, but in terms of a society of good men. (p. 656)

The Birth of Humanity

According to Zeller (Outlines p. 246-247) [see below], the roots of the idea of "humanity" -- or, "common humanity", as we often say -- "reach down to the time of the Sophists and the beginnings of Cynicism. It first received however its full content through the fusing of the Hellenic spirit with the Roman character. It was the Romans who gave it the linguistic term [hūmānitās] which no Greek word can render exactly." The Roman Terence (c. B.C. 190-159) wrote: Homo sum, humani nil a me ailenum puto ["I am a man and nothing human is foreign to me"] (ibid. p. 247n1).

Article 1 of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) simply voices Stoic ideas:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.


Stoicism according to Eduard Zeller

Source: Outlines of the History of Greek Philosophy, 13th ed. [1st ed. was 1883], rev. Nestle, tr. L.R. Palmer. (1980 repr., orig. 1931)

Note: Many points of Zeller's outline are made clearer by the text of Diogenes Laertius below.

The Earlier Stoa

The founder of the Stoic school was Zeno of Citium in Cyprus, a Greek city with a Phoenician element.... About 300 B.C. he came forward as a teacher and philosophic author. (p. 209)

[The] followers [of Zeno the Stoic] regarded themselves as descendants of the Cynic branch of the Socratic school. When asked who came nearest their idea of a sage they always bracketed Diogenes and Antisthenes with Socrates. Like these philosophers their object was to make men happy and independent by virtue. They followed them in defining philosophy as the practice of virtue ... and made the values of theoretical inquiry dependent on its significance for the moral life. (p. 210)

But what fundamentally divided the Stoa from Cynicism and carried even its founder beyond them, was the importance which the Stoics attached to scientific research.... true morality is impossible without knowledge; virtuous and wise are regarded as synonymous, while philosophy although identified with the practice of virtue is nevertheless defined as "knowledge of the human and the divine". (p. 210-211)

When Herillus [of Carthage who was a pupil of Zeno (vii, 165) and "founder of a separate Stoic sect" (OCD 2e)] declared knowledge to the highest good and the final object of life, that signified a return from Zeno to Aristotle.... Zeno himself saw in scientific knowledge the indispensable condition of moral conduct, and borrowed from the Academics the division of philosophy into logic, physics and ethics ... (p. 211)

The Stoic Partition of Philosophy. Stoic Logic.

Zeno derived nominalism from Antisthenes; this contrasts with the "idealism and spiritualism of Plato", that is, with the notion of Forms (common natures) as existing separately from their instantiation in individuals. Nominalism, for example: individual cats exist, but "catness" does not. "Antisthenes had ascribed reality only to the particular things" (p. 212). [Antisthenes: "Virtue is based on knowledge and therefore can be taught. This is done through investigation into the meaning of words ..." For whoever knows a word's meaning knows the [nature of the] thing the word stands for. (OCD 2e) [cf. Xenophon: "For this reason [Socrates] never gave up considering with his companions what any given thing is" (Memorabilia iv, 6, 1).] "He was the first to define statement (or assertion) by saying that a statement is that which sets forth what a thing was or is." (Diog. L. vi, 3) Hicks is translating the word logos here as 'statement' whereas maybe, although I don't know this, the word 'definition' would be more apt for what Antisthenes says.]

Zeno and Chrysippus [who was Zeno's second successor as head of the Stoic school which met at the Painted Porch or colonnade (p. 209)] belonged to those who began [their teaching of philosophy] with logic; they followed this by physics and ended with ethics. (p. 212)

[Zeller says that Zeno may have been the first to] name Logic, which ... comprehended all inquiries which dealt with inward or outwards speech ... They divide it therefore into rhetoric and dialectic. The latter is sometimes made to include the theory of criteria and definitions which, however, is sometimes treated as an independent science. In dialectic they distinguished the theory of the sign ... from the thing signified ...

Comment: However, by 'sign' and 'thing signified' they did not mean what is meant in logic of language, but instead "the theory of the sign ... included poetics, musical theory and grammar" while "the theory of the thing signified corresponds ... to our formal logic, while that of the criteria contains the theory of knowledge".

In contrast to Plato and Aristotle the Stoics were pronounced empiricists. Antisthenes had ascribed reality only to the particular things. Zeno concluded from this that all knowledge must proceed from perception of the particular. (p. 212)

The part of dialectic which corresponds to our formal logic deals with what is signified or expressed (lekton) and this is either incomplete or complete, in the form of concepts and propositions respectively.... The Stoics enumerated only four instead of the ten Aristotelian categories.... Of the complete statements or propositions, judgments or assertions ... are those which are either true or false. (p. 214)

By inference from the data of perception we arrive at general concepts ... So far as these are derived from nature and simply from generally known experiences they form the "common concepts" ... which are presupposed by all scientific inquiries. (p. 213)

Comment: Here, I believe, is found the assumption of "common natures". Because the word 'inference' seems to imply abstraction (by any other name) of the common nature found in "the data of perception"; because here it seems that "concept" = common nature. But this notion is a presupposition, not the result of an investigation; or if there is limited investigation, for there are indeed some cases where a common nature is identifiable, a "hasty generalization" (from SOME to ALL) is drawn from it. [However, for another possible meaning, see also "first conceptions" ("first principles"), or, "common notions" in Thomas Aquinas and the "proposition of contradiction" in Aristotle.]

Stoic Physics. Pantheism.

[Zeno bases his physics on Heraclitus, for whom] the idea that all individual things in the world are only manifestations of one and the same primary substance and that there is a law which covers the course of nature and which should govern human action. (p. 211)

... when their ethical principles demanded it, they regarded everything in the world as a work of reason and the absolute reason as the ultimate basis of the world. Their point of view was essentially teleological and even their monism developed into pantheism. (p. 215)

... the perfection and finality of the world-structure and especially the rationality of human nature shows that [the] final world-cause must at the same time be the most perfect reason, the most beneficent and philanthropic of all beings, in a word God.... Since everything in the world owes its qualities, its motion and its life to [the final world-cause], it must bear the same relation to the universe as soul to our body. It permeates all things. (p. 216)

[Chrysippus] worked out the proposition that the world was made for gods and men with the most petty and superficial teleology [cf. Durant above]. Although the basic idea of the Stoic theodicy, that the imperfection of the individual subserves the perfection of the whole, became the model for all later attempts, nevertheless, the problem of reconciling moral wickedness with [Stoic] theological determinism [appears irresolvable]. (p. 217)

Comment: Also "apparently irresolvable" is the contradiction between the proposition that Nature-God must be "the most beneficent and philanthropic of all beings" and reality:

"Refusal to be part of nature's indifference"

Others say nature is cruel, but I say no, nature is indifferent. But I refuse to be part of that indifference. ["Reverence for All Life"] is a distinctly human thought, born out of protest against nature's arbitrariness. (Louise Jilek-Aall, Working with Dr. Schweitzer (1990), p. 190-191)

When two propositions (whether grammatical or empirical) cannot be reconciled -- indeed when two propositions obviously contradict one another -- a philosopher wedded to the picture he has himself created (the "metaphysical theory" he has invented), declares it a mystery or paradox, but never a misconception, delusion or false view of things. So there is the absurd wedding of e.g. Chrysippus.

"In effect, the law of nature teaches us to kill our fellow creatures, and it is a principle which is put in practice all over the globe." (Voltaire, Candide, tr. unknown, Chapter 16)

But laws of nature do not teach; laws of nature compel. And there is no compulsion here, not for man: he may refuse to practice this principle. That is, for man this is a question of "moral law" (ethics), not of laws of nature.

... man has the greatest interest for [the Stoic] philosopher, and in man the soul. It is, like every real thing, of corporeal nature and it arises together with the body in the physical way of begetting; but is the purest and the noblest, a part of the divine fire which descended from the aether into bodies of men when they were first created and passes from the parents to the children ... (p. 218)

Stoic Ethics (Zeller)

In the Stoic system ... there was nothing that resembled a belief in personal immortality.... [At the end of the world souls return] with everything else to God. (p. 219) Although everything obeys world-wide laws, man is enabled by his reason to know these laws and to follow them consciously. This is the leading idea of the Stoic moral theory. Their fundamental principle is in general the life according to nature [Comment: that is their relation to Cynicism] ... [Zeno however himself only demanded] a life at harmony with itself ... (p. 219) ... for rational beings only what is reasonable can have value; only virtue is a good for them, and only in virtue that their happiness can consist, which is therefore affected by no further conditions ... Conversely the only evil is wickedness [Comment: cf. Plato: "No evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death" (Apology 41c-d, tr. Jowett), because the only evil is to do evil [cf. Gorgias 469b, as in Plato's Republic, as in the gospel of our Lord], and the good man does nothing evil (wicked).]

Moral virtue, which is knowledge, alone is the good for man

Everything else is indifferent ...; life, health, honor, possessions, etc., are not goods; death, disease, insult, poverty, etc., are not evils. Least of all may pleasure be held for a good at all, to say nothing of the highest good, or sought for its own sake. (p. 219)

They [the Stoics] sought therefore the real happiness of the virtuous man predominantly in freedom from disturbance, tranquility and inward independence. As virtue alone is a good for man, the effort to attain it is the general law of his nature.... In contrast to the affects [or irrational and ill-controlled impulses, which Zeno reduced to four, namely, pleasure, lust, anxiety and fear], virtue consists in the right constitution of the soul. Its first condition is right opinions on what we have to do and what not to do; for we always strive (as Zeno following Socrates says) after what we hold to be good ... (p. 220)

[Aside: That last idea, "(as Zeno following Socrates says)", is an idea I have tried to develop. Here it looks like a tautology, but I try to give reasons why it is not, or at least need not be an idle tautology -- for it is a way of looking at things, as is the contrary way; the question is: which way is serviceable to one who seeks to become a good man?]

... for we always strive (as Zeno following Socrates says) after what we hold to be good, even if it lies in our power to give or refuse our assent to an opinion on this. (p. 220)

[Aside (continued): By the final clause Zeller seems to mean that, regardless of what I say or even if I claim that I withhold my judgment about a particular case, my actions show what I "hold to be good". That is a tautology, of course, consistent with any and every set of facts and therefore neither true nor false. But even if that is so: rather than look at this as a question of "weakness of the will" (for which there is no remedy), it is useful to look at it as a case of "I say I know, but I think I know something else, something better" (for which there is a remedy). Because the latter way of looking at things (or, "tautology") suggests that further reflection -- i.e. thinking things all the way through, as the philosopher must do -- will lead one to see that what one thinks one knows ("but I think I know something better") is not what one knows. And if I am disabused of my ignorance of this good, then the way I act will change accordingly.]

Virtue is therefore defined as knowledge and vice as ignorance, while the affects are attributed to false judgments of value. But the Stoics imagined moral knowledge as so closely bound up with strength of mind and will ... that the nature of virtue is to be found equally well in them. (p. 220)

[Antisthenes, happiness, virtue and Socrates]

[Comment: Cf. "[Antisthenes] held virtue to be sufficient in itself to ensure happiness, since it needed nothing else except the strength of a Socrates" (Diog. L. vi, 11); I think that here strength = "strength of will" (i.e. self-imposed discipline or limitation; self-control). And I believe that Plato came to agree with that. However, it was never the view of Socrates, for whom knowledge alone is sufficient.]

Fellowship of all mankind ("philanthropy")

In virtue of this rationality, man recognizes himself as part of the universe and thereby pledged to work for this whole. He knows that he is related to all rational beings in nature; he sees that they are similar in kind and of equal rights and that they stand under the same law of nature and reason as himself; he regards it as their natural destination to live for one another. The communal instinct is thereby implanted in human nature, which demands the two qualities, justice and love of one's fellow-men, which are the fundamental conditions of a community.... For them ... the connection of a man with the whole of humanity is far more important than his connection with his nation. Cosmopolitanism took the place of politics, a creed of which the Stoics were the most zealous and successful prophets. (Zeller, p. 224-225; Stoicism's impulse to the writing of universal human history)

For since it is on the equality of reason in the individual that every human community is based, this must be co-extensive with humanity. All men are interrelated, all have the same origin and destiny, all stand under the same law and are citizens of one state, members of one body. All men have as men a claim to our good-will. Even slaves can claim their rights from us and are shown to be worthy of our esteem. As men we owe even to our enemies mercy and forgiveness and ready support, a view that was expressed repeatedly and emphatically by the Stoics of the Roman Empire. This cosmopolitanism was one of the most impressive of the characteristics which made the Stoicism the real representative of the Hellenistic and Roman periods and gave it its significance for the rise and spread of Christianity ["the Christian world-church" (p. 315)]. (ibid. p. 225)

[Comment: According to Schweitzer, however, it was a tragedy of Western Civilization that despite the similarity of their ethics in their mutual advocacy of the universal fellowship of man, Stoicism and Christianity were unable to be reconciled and work together for the betterment of mankind. Because for the Stoic philosophers, the Christian religion was superstition, and for the Christians, Stoicism was paganism. But further, on a deeper level, the early Christians regarded this world (in contrast to the supernatural kingdom of God) as fundamentally evil, whereas the later Stoics regarded it as fundamentally good and our life here worth trying to make better both ethically and materially: whereas the Stoics embraced life in "this world", the Christians turned away it. And there was at that time no way to bridge that difference in world-view. (Civilization and Ethics, tr. Campion (1929), p. 58-59))]

Stoic Religion (Zeller)

If the community of all rational beings is extended still further we arrive at the conception of the world as a community consisting of gods and men ... True religion is not different from philosophy. (p. 225)

The Stoics found much to criticise in what popular belief contained over and above this. The real content of mythology ... was to be determined by philosophical theology; the one God of the Stoics was to be worshipped partly directly and partly indirectly in the form of the gods of mythology ... (p. 225-226)

Zeno of Citium's Accomplishment

... Zeno derived the basic ideas of his ethics through his teacher [the Academician] Polemo ... from the common ground of the old Academy and the Peripatetics. [Zeno owed to his teacher Polemo] especially the idea of humanity, which can by no means be traced back to the Cynics. Original, however, [to Zeno] was the fusion of all these elements ["the common ground"] with the Heraclitan physics into a strictly monistic system of pantheism, exhibiting the remarkable combination of an optimistic view of nature with a pessimistic conception of the moral capacity of humanity ... (p. 227)

The Later Stoicism

[The later Stoics] stressed the religious ideas of the [earlier] Stoics -- the kinship of man with God and of men with one another and the consequent duty of love of those who are nearest to us, mercy and forgiveness -- and occasionally borrowed ideas from Platonism. (p. 267)

Seneca

[Seneca's] philosophy breathes a somewhat different spirit from that of the ancient Stoics.... In the first place he confined himself almost entirely to morals. He was acquainted with the Stoic logic, but had no inclination to make any detailed study of it. He praised the sublimity of physics ... but of this part of philosophy only such theological and anthropological details as admitted of a practical application had any deeper interest for him.... Seneca is too completely obsessed with the weakness and sinfulness of men, in his lively descriptions of which he strikingly resembles his contemporary the Apostle Paul, to be able to face moral problems with the self-trust of the original Stoicism.... In his cosmopolitanism, too, the softer traits such as love of man and compassion are more strongly marked than with them. (p. 267-268)

Seneca stated expressly that the Deity receives the right worship only through purity of life and knowledge of God and not by sacrifice [i.e. in temples] ... and, as a worthy representative of the Roman Stoicism, he attacked the absurdities of mythology and the superstition of the existing worship ... (p. 269)

Seneca died A.D. in 65 at about the age of 65. (p. 267) [Schweitzer in his Civilization and Ethics has compiled various "Moral Sayings" from Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. (2e, Chapter 5, p. 55-57)]

Epictetus

Virtue, according to Musonius [Rufus of Volscinii], is the only aim of philosophy. Men are morally ill, the philosopher is the physician who must heal them. (p. 269)

Epictetus of Hierapolis (c. A.D. 50-138) was Musonius' pupil.... Like his master he [Epictetus] regarded philosophy as merely a training in virtue, the curing of moral defects. Nevertheless he made a thorough study of the logic and physics of the old Stoa, especially the works of Chrysippus. It was in them that he found the necessary basis for his moral precepts -- the belief in God and his care for man; in the rational structure and course of the universe; in the kinship of the human mind with God.... like Musonius he [Epictetus] believed that general moral principles are implanted in us by nature. Like him he held that only one thing lies in our power -- our will, the use of our ideas. Epictetus believed that our happiness depends on this alone; everything else he regarded as so indifferent that the distinction between the desirable and the condemnable has scarcely any significance for him.... he preached not only unconditional surrender to the course of the world, but also the most unbounded and comprehensive philanthropy. This demand he supported above all by pointing to the similar relation of all men to God. (p. 269-270)

In the recognition that all others [all human beings] have the same nature ["the divine origin and nature of the human mind", Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 121-180), who greatly admired Epictetus] found the impulse towards the most boundless and unselfish philanthropy. (p. 271)

Socrates and Stoicism, versus Orphism and Plato

Socrates, the minor schools which took their rise from him and the Hellenistic philosophy of the Stoa and Epicureanism were all united in maintaining that ethical conduct of man depends on his knowledge.... But at an early date this rationalistic tendency was crossed by a religious influence, which originated in the last instance in the East. This was Orphicism, which with its separation of body and soul, matter and mind, god and the world grafted dualism upon Greek thought and relied on divine revelations instead of rational proof. The Greek mind in men like Pythagoras and his pupils, Empedocles and Plato endeavored to comprehend this doctrine and elaborate it on rational grounds. But it remained something foreign in Greek intellectual life. (Zeller, Outlines p. 313)

Theosophy

With his acceptance of bodiless souls, heroes and demons, Posidonius [of Apamea (B.C. 135 - 51), who represents the eclectic middle Stoa (p. 249)] stands on the border-line of the two tendencies which we have followed throughout the history of Greek philosophy -- the monistic and dualistic. He smoothed the path for the revival of the latter tendency and unnoticed changed philosophy into theosophy. (p. 252)


The Earlier Stoa in Diogenes Laertius

Source: Lives and Opinions of the Eminent Philosophers, tr. R.D. Hicks (1925). Diog. L. lived c. 200-250 A.D.

The Founder of Stoicism

Zeno of Citium was a pupil of Crates (vii, 1-4) of Thebes, flor. 326 B.C., who was among the famous pupils of Diogenes the Cynic (vi, 85), and about Crates too are told many tales: "When Demetrius of Phalerum sent him loaves of bread and some wine, he reproached him, saying, "Oh that the springs yielded bread as well as water!" It is clear, then, that he was a water-drinker." (vi, 90) "He was ugly to look at, and when performing his gymnastic exercises used to be laughed at. He was accustomed to say, raising his hands, "Take heart, Crates, for it is for the good of your eyes and of the rest of your body. You will see these men, who are laughing at you, tortured before long by disease, counting you happy, and reproaching themselves for their sluggishness."" (vi, 91-92)

He [Zeno] was shipwrecked on a voyage from Phoenicia to Peiraeus with a cargo of purple. He went up into Athens and sat down in a bookseller's shop, being then a man of thirty. As he went on reading the second book of Xenophon's Memorabilia, he was so pleased that he inquired where men like Socrates were to be found. Crates passed by in the nick of time, so the bookseller pointed to him and said, "Follow yonder man." From that day he became Crates's pupil, showing in other respects a strong bent for philosophy, though with too much native modesty to assimilate Cynic shamelessness. (vii, 2-3)

He [Zeno] used then to discourse, pacing up and down in the painted colonnade ... his object being to keep the spot clear of a concourse of idlers. (vii, 5) He disliked, they say, to be brought too near to people ... Nor indeed would he walk about with more than two or three. (vii, 14)

When a certain Cynic declared he had no oil in his flask and begged some of him, Zeno refused to give him any. However, as the man went away, Zeno bade him consider which of the two was the more impudent. (vii, 17)

To a stripling who was talking nonsense his [Zeno's] words were, "The reason why we have two ears and only one mouth is that we may listen the more and talk the less." (vii, 23)

He showed the utmost endurance, and the greatest frugality; the food he used required no fire to dress, and the cloak he wore was thin.... he had almost become a proverb. At all events, "More temperate than Zeno the philosopher" was a current saying about him. (vii, 26-27)

Thou madest self-sufficiency thy rule ...
A manly doctrine thine; and by thy prudence
With much toil thou didst found a great new school,
Chaste parent of unfearing liberty.
And if thy native country was Phoenicia,
What need to slight thee? came not Cadmus thence,
Who gave to Greece her books and art of writing?
(verse by Zenodotus the Stoic, a pupil of Diogenes the Cynic, vii, 30)

They say that he [Zeno] was in the habit of swearing by "capers" just as Socrates used to swear by "the dog". (vii, 32)

... in the beginning of his Republic ... he applies to all men who are not virtuous the opprobrious epithets of foemen, enemies, slaves, and aliens to one another ... (vii, 32)

[In the same work] he bids men and women wear the same dress and keep no part of the body entirely covered. (vii, 33-34)

... Cleanthes, son of Phanias, of Assos, [was] his successor in the school: him Zeno used to compare to hard waxen tablets which are difficult to write upon, but retain the characters written upon them. (vii, 37)

The Philosophy of the Stoa

Philosophic doctrine, say the Stoics, falls into three parts: one physical, another ethical, and the third logical. Zeno of Citium was the first to make this division ... (vii, 39)

Comment: whereas in translations of Plato the word 'division' is used, here the word 'partition' is used (as in the partition [division into parts], rather than division, of philosophy), but I don't know if these are simply different translations of a single Greek word.

[In his teaching Zeno would] start ... with Logic, go on to Physics, and finish with Ethics ... [Others began with Ethics or with Physics, while some Stoics declared that no] single part ... is independent of any other part, but all blend together. (vii, 40-41)

The study of syllogisms they declare to be of the greatest service, as showing us what is capable of yielding demonstration; and this contributes much to the formation of correct judgments, and their arrangement and retention in memory give a scientific character to our conception of things.

An argument is in itself a whole containing premises and conclusion, and an inference (or syllogism) is an inferential argument composed of these. Demonstration is an argument inferring by means of what is better apprehended something less clearly apprehended. (vii, 45)

Comment: The next three paragraphs are a concise statement of the false grammatical account -- the false picture of how our language works -- the ancient picture that persists to this day ("A noun is the name of a person, place, or thing, and the meaning of a name is the independently existing thing the name stands for" even if that thing is an "abstract object"), just as if Wittgenstein had never existed. Look at the philosophy offerings at any university and you will see that this is true. It would be going a bit too far to place over the door of my school "Let no one who has not studied logic of language enter here", both because logic would be studied precisely there and because one can learn much worthwhile philosophy from Albert Schweitzer, who is not the subject of any of the courses alluded to above, without it. But it is only going a bit too far: philosophy will continue to be mostly self-mystification (PI § 109) unless it discards its speculative-but-mistaken-for-fact account of "the meaning of terms" (vii, 53).

... the part [of Logic] about definitions is accepted as a means of recognizing truth, inasmuch as things are apprehended by means of general notions. (vii, 42)

... by dialectic [the Stoics understand the science] of correctly discussing subjects by question and answer; hence their alternative definition of it as the science of statements, true, false, and neither true nor false. (vii, 42)

... there are notions which imply a sort of transition to the realm of the imperceptible: such are those of space and the meaning of terms. (vii, 53)

Comment: Forms of expression matter. What is meant here by "the Stoics understand" -- e.g. that this is the way they define the word 'dialectic', or that this is how they find that word being used by others, or that they have somehow, I don't know how, discerned "the essence of dialectic" and the above is "what dialectic is in itself"? It seems the last ... ["Defining a phenomenon"]

The highest of most universal genus is that which, being itself a genus, has no genus above: namely, reality or the real ... (vii, 61)

Comment: Is that what philosophers mean by the mysterious term 'Being' (because in that case the capital 'B' seems akin to the capital 'G' in 'God') -- the class whose membership is all classes, the class whose membership is all beings, i.e. everything that exists? [Russell: "Is the class of all classes a member of itself?" Wittgenstein: "... seeing the World as a limited whole is the mystical" (TLP 6.45).] As I read Newton's Rule III (which may not be the right way), the rule says that the world is a uni-verse, or, as a physicist might, I imagine, say: the uniformity of nature proves that we can talk about "the World" or "Being": reality is not fragmented. Well, I don't know: "the picture is there, but what is its application?" (Philosophical Investigations §§ 422, 424)

Species is that which is comprehended under genus: thus Man is included under Animal. (vii, 61)

Comment: is that a matter of fact, rather than a rule for using this language (i.e. a conventional definition), a more or less arbitrary classification scheme? An analogy is not proof (A particular analogy is only proof that it can be made, which is only in the case where a valid comparison can be made: a man is not like a dog in having four legs, for example).

Posidonius defines Dialectic as the science dealing with truth, falsehood, and that which is neither true nor false; whereas Chrysippus takes its subject to be signs and things signified. (vii, 62)

The Logic of the Early Stoa. The Propositional Logic.

... a judgment is that which, when we set it forth in speech, becomes an assertion, and is either false or true: an interrogation is a thing complete in itself like a judgment but demanding an answer, e.g. "Is it day?" and this is so far neither true nor false. Thus "It is day" is a judgment; "Is it day?" an interrogation. (vii, 66)

[Some Stoics] divide propositions into simple and not simple. Simple are those that consist of one or more propositions which are not ambiguous as "It is day". Not simple are those that consist of one or more ambiguous propositions. They may, that is, consist either of a single ambiguous proposition, e.g. "If it is day, it is day", or of more than one proposition, e.g. "If it is day, it is light." (vii, 68-69)

An example of a negative proposition is "It is not day". Of the negative proposition one species is the double negative. By double negative is meant the negation of a negation, e.g. "It is not not-day". Now this presupposes that it is day. (vii, 69)

Of propositions that are not simple the hypothetical ... is one that is formed by means of the conditional conjunction "If". Now this conjunction promises that the second of two things follows consequently upon the first, as, for instance, "If it is day, it is light". An inferential proposition ... is one which is introduced by the conjunction "Since" and consists of an initial proposition and a conclusion; for example, "Since it is day-time, it is light." This conjunction guarantees both that the second thing follows from the first and that the first is really a fact. A coupled proposition is one which is put together by certain coupling conjunctions, e.g. "It is day-time and it light." A disjunctive proposition is one which is constituted such by the disjunctive conjunction "Either", as e.g. "Either it is day or it is night." This conjunction guarantees that one or other of the alternatives is false. (vii, 71-72)

A hypothetical proposition is ... true if the contradictory of its conclusion is incompatible with its premise, e.g. "If it is day, it is light." This is true. For the statement "It is light", contradicting the conclusion, is incompatible with the premise "It is day". On the other hand, a hypothetical proposition is false, if the contradictory of its conclusion does not conflict with the premise, e.g. "If it is day, Dion is walking." For the statement "Dion is not walking" does not conflict with the premise "It is day". (vii, 73)

Comment: The Stoics' logic is different from Wittgenstein's (which he calls "Russell's logic") in TLP 4.442 and 5.101. Because in Wittgenstein, "If it is day, [then] Dion is walking" is true in all cases, except where the antecedent ("It is day") is true and the consequent ("Dion is walking") is false. Using the TLP's notion, (TTFT)(p,q), or:

T > T = T
F > T = T
T > F = F
F > F = T

However, for the Stoics, the hypothetical proposition "If it is day, Dion is walking" is always false. The Stoics, unlike the mathematical logicians, are as much concerned the meaning of the propositions as with their form. And, in this particular case, they therefore describe the way we actually use our language, rather than merely make an arbitrary rule, which is what the mathematical logicians do. (In this way, they are more philosophers, the latter more mathematicians.) In the normal, everyday way of speaking, a conditional such as 'If it is May in February, then Thursday is an apricot' would simply be dismissed as "nonsense" in the way that "nonsense verse" is; no one would talk about its "truth conditions", and certainly in no way does the consequent follow from the antecedent. (In other words, from a philosophical point of view, Stoic logic is not idle, as mathematical logic may be.)

An inferential proposition is true if starting from a true premise it also has a consequent conclusion [Comment: i.e. a conclusion, which in the following example follows logically, but in the other examples given, is said to follow empirically, from it], as e.g. "Since it is day, the sun is above the horizon." But it is false if it starts from a false premise or has an inconsequent conclusion [Comment: i.e. a conclusion which in no way follows from the starting premise], e.g. "Since it is night, Dion is walking", if this be said in day-time. [Comment: Note that 'Since it is night' is an empirically false premise, and 'Dion is walking' is an inconsequent conclusion, and therefore this example combines both possibilities -- indicated by the word 'or' above -- for a false inferential proposition.] (vii, 74)

A causal proposition is true if its conclusion really follows from a premise itself true, though the premise does not follow conversely from the conclusion, as e.g. "Because it is day, it is light" ... [Comment: Apparently the "causal proposition" contrasts with the broader category "inferential proposition", because in the example given above the premise does follow conversely from the conclusion, viz. "Since it is day, the sun is above the horizon" and "Since the sun is above the horizon, it is day" are both true.] (vii, 74)

A probable judgment is one which induces to assent, e.g. "Whoever gave birth to anything, is that thing's mother." This, however, is not necessarily true; for the hen is not mother of an egg. (vii, 75)

Again, some things are possible, others impossible; and some things are necessary, others are not necessary. [Comment: Of interest here is the case of a proposition which expresses an impossibility, because the of proposition given as an example of it: "Impossible is one which does not admit of being true, as e.g. "The earth flies [aloft]."" What is noteworthy here is that this impossibility is empirical rather than logical.] (vii, 75)

A reasonable proposition is one which has to start with more chances of being true than not, e.g. "I shall be alive to-morrow." (vii, 76)

And next we find the Stoic's invention [or is it a discovery?] of the propositional logic (as opposed to the term logic of Aristotle) as well as of "symbolic logic".

An argument, according to the followers of Crinis [who is not further identified], consists of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion, such as for example this: "If it is day, it is light; but it is day, therefore it is light." ... A mood is a sort of outline of an argument, like the following: "If the first, then the second; but the first is, therefore the second is." (vii, 76)

Symbolical argument is a combination of full argument and mood; e.g. "If Plato is alive, he breathes; but the first is true, therefore the second is true." This mode of argument was introduced [in order not to repeat long minor premises, in order to] arrive at the conclusion as concisely as possible: if A, then B. (vii, 77)

Comment: From there it is but a short step to "If A, then B; but A, therefore B" (see vii, 81), if, that is, the Stoics are willing to set aside all question of meaning in favor of form alone.

Of arguments some are conclusive, others inconclusive. Inconclusive are such that the contradictory of the conclusion is not incompatible with [the?] combination of the premises, as in the following: "If it is day, it is light; but it is day, therefore Dion walks." [Comment: If A, then B; but A, therefore C. "If A, then B" is the major premise, and "but A" is the minor premise; in combination they are simply irrelevant to the truth or falsity of C.] [Among conclusive arguments are those called "conclusive specifically"; this type] draw conclusions, but not by syllogism; e.g. the statement "It is both day and night" is false: "Now it is day; therefore it is not night." [Comment: This example does not seem apt, because the argument appears to be: "Either it is day or it is night; but it is day, therefore it is not night" which would seem to be syllogistic. Or if the major premise of a syllogism cannot be an Either/Or, then the argument can be reposed: "If A, then NOT-B; but A, therefore NOT-B."] (vii, 77-78)

Further, arguments may be divided into true and false. The former draw their conclusions by means of true premises ... Those are false which have error in the premises or are inconclusive [Comment: Note that "inconclusive arguments" are always false -- i.e. (FFFF)(p,q). cf. "If it is day, Dion is walking" above.] ... Arguments may also be divided into possible and impossible, necessary and not necessary. (vii, 79)

Further, there are statements which are indemonstrable because they do not need demonstration; they are employed in the construction of every argument. As to the number of these, authorities differ; Chrysippus makes them five. These are assumed alike in reasoning specifically conclusive [i.e. those which draw conclusions but not by syllogism (vii, 78)] and in syllogisms both categorical [Comment: This word is not defined above] and hypothetical. (vii, 79)

The following are the "statements which are indemonstrable because they do not need demonstration". (Here the word 'because' does not introduce an explanation-justification ... but then what, if anything, is its meaning here?) The truth is that we do not even know what a demonstration of such statements would even look like. We say instead, "This much is obvious to any reasonable man -- indeed, to any child." (But as to why that is so, as to why it is obvious, we have no idea.)

1. If A, then B; but A, therefore B. ("If the first, then the second; but the first is, therefore the second is.")

2. "If it is day, it is light; but it is night, therefore it is not light." Or, "If A, then B; but NOT-A, therefore NOT-B". [Comment: But is that formally valid, or must it be "If NOT-A, then NOT-B; but NOT-A, therefore NOT-B" to be valid; for cannot there be light even if it is night, e.g. moonlight? For the argument to be true, however, -- and the concern of the Stoics is the truth -- we must allow that 'night' = 'NOT-day' and that "If it is NOT-day, then it is NOT-light".]

3. NOT-(NOT-A AND A); but NOT-A, therefore NOT-A. ("It is not the case that Plato is both dead and alive; but Plato is dead, therefore he is not alive.")

4. Either A OR B; but A, therefore NOT-B. (The major premise is a "disjunctive proposition": A or B, but NOT both)

5. Either A OR B; but NOT-B, therefore A. ("Either it is day or it is night; but it not night, therefore it is day." [Comment: But this particular example's proposition, I think, formally would be: Either A OR NOT-A; but NOT-(NOT-A), therefore A.]) (vii, 80-81)

The Greeks talk about truth in logic and about equality in geometry (if I remember aright, and I may not remember aright), whereas the axiomatic-mathematical-model thinkers talk about validity and congruence. The Greeks are concerned with meaning, the moderns with form, I think. (For the Greeks philosophy is a seeking of the truth, whereas for the moderns it often appears to be simply a game, as Greek eristic was.)

From a truth a truth follows, according to the Stoics ... (vii, 81)

If T, then T ("It is light" follows from "It is day", if the latter be true).

And, If F, then F ("It is dark", so to speak, follows from "It is night", if the latter be untrue).

Also, If F, then T (e.g. "The earth exists" follows from "The earth flies aloft").

However, "... from a truth no falsehood will follow". Thus, NOT-(If T, then F) (e.g. "The earth flies aloft" does not follow from "The earth exists"). [Comment: That may correspond to Russell's mathematical logic of the conditional, (TTFT)(p,q), although I don't know that.]

The Stoic concept 'logical necessity' is in many ways unclear. The first thing that is most confusing is that the Stoics do not make a distinction between a definition (or, rule for using a word) and a proposition (or, statement of fact), so that their thinking is "metaphysical" according to Wittgenstein (Zettel § 458: "Philosophical investigations -- conceptual investigations. The essential thing about metaphysics: it obliterates the distinction between factual and conceptual investigations.").

Thus no distinction is made between "If it is day, the sun is above the horizon" (which is a definition of the word 'day') and "If it is day, it is light" (which is not a definition, for the sun may be hidden by the darkest storm clouds, leaving the earth in near-darkness, darker than any moonlit night; and in the far north, in winter the sun ascends so little above the horizon that there may be no daylight worth speaking of).

Such, then, is the logic of the Stoics, by which they seek to establish their point that the wise man is the true dialectician. For all things, they say, are discerned by means of logical study, including whatever falls within the province of Physics, and again whatever belongs to that of Ethics. For else, they say, as regards statement and reasoning Physics and Ethics could not tell how to express themselves ... Moreover, of the two types of common-sense inquiry included under Virtue one considers the nature of each particular thing, the other asks what it is called. Thus much for their [the Stoics'] logic. [Comment: The distinction between "the nature of each particular thing" and "what it is called" is unclear to me -- actually, unintelligible to me, and not 'unclear' for it is not vague but instead, so far, nonsense (i.e. undefined combinations of words).] (vii, 83)

Comment: Logic is prior to Ethics and Physics -- that is, in the sense that some understanding or other of the logic of language is the foundation of all our thinking. Because when we philosophize we must use language; and so only a thoughtless philosophical thinker would take language, the tool he must use for his work, for granted. We must begin with the study of Logic, and return to reconsider it again and again. (A doctor's aim may be to ease suffering, but first he must learn the tools of his trade. A philosopher's aim may be to know Ethics -- or, "how we should live our life" --, but first he must study Logic, just as Socrates did. And to try to know Physics [metaphysics] before studying Logic is to follow the path into utter self-mystification by means of language.)

The Ethics of the Early and Middle Stoa

Zeno of Citium and [his first successor] Cleanthes treated the subject [of Ethics] somewhat less elaborately [than e.g. Chrysippus and Posidonius did], as might be expected in an older generation. They, however, did subdivide Logic and Physics as well Ethics. (vii, 84)

An animal's first impulse, say the Stoics, is to self-preservation ... [In saying this, they reject] the assertion made by some people that pleasure is the object to which the first impulse of animals is directed ... (vii, 85-86)

Reason and impulse

[In the case of animals, as opposed to plants (vegetative life)], say the Stoics, Nature's rule is to follow the direction of impulse [of which the first is said to be self-preservation]. But when reason by way of a more perfect leadership has been bestowed on the beings we call rational, for them life according to reason rightly becomes the natural life. For reason supervenes to shape impulse scientifically. (vii, 86)

This is why Zeno was the first (in his treatise On the Nature of Man) to designate as the end [that is, as what our "end-in-chief" (Herillus) or fundamental aim is] "life in agreement with nature" ... which is the same as a virtuous life, virtue being the goal towards which nature guides us [who are "the beings we call rational"]. [To live in accordance with Nature may be defined as to live] in accordance with our own human nature as well as that of the universe ... for our individual natures are parts of the nature of the whole universe. (vii, 87-88)

And this very thing constitutes the virtue of the happy man and the smooth current of life, when all actions promote the harmony of the spirit dwelling in the individual man with the will of him ["the law common to all things, that is to say, the right reason which pervades all things, and is identical with ... Zeus, lord and ruler of all that is"] who orders the universe. Diogenes then expressly declares the end to be to act with good reason in the selection of what is natural. Archedemus says the end is to live in the performance of all befitting actions. (vii, 88)

Cleanthes takes the nature of the universe alone as that which should be followed, without adding the nature of the individual. (vii, 89)

Comment: the Socratic "Know thyself" has two parts: to know the excellence that is appropriate to the human-rational form of life, and to know one's own limits as an individual. But it does not include knowledge of "the nature of the universe" -- i.e. Socratic Ethics does not have its foundation in Physics. (In Schweitzer's way of thinking, Socrates does not have "a complete world-view", although Stoicism does.)

The proof, says Posidonius [of the Middle Stoa, who lived B.C. 135 - 51], in the first book of his treatise on Ethics, that virtue really exists is the fact that Socrates, Diogenes, and Antisthenes and their followers made moral progress. And for the existence of vice as a fundamental fact the proof is that it is the opposite of virtue. That it, virtue, can be taught is laid down by Chrysippus ... that it can be taught is clear from the case of bad men becoming good. [Comment: obviously B ("Virtue can be taught") does not follow from A ("Some bad men become good"); but it may follow that virtue can be -- even if not taught -- learned (or, at least, be acquired).] (vii, 91)

Panaetius [of Rhodes, c. 185-109 B.C. (129-109 directed the Stoic school, Athens)] ... divides virtue into two kinds, theoretical and practical ... Apollophanes ["one of the older Stoics" (p. 98n)] for his part counts but one, namely, practical wisdom. (vii, 92)

Comment: is that latter view also the view of Xenophon's Socrates (and of Aristotle's as well as Plato's Socrates) -- i.e. that only knowledge of how to live our life (because if anyone has such knowledge, then he will live as we ought), which is knowledge of the specific excellence proper to man? But, then, what does Panaetius mean by 'theoretical virtue'? I think: 'knowledge of what is neither good nor evil' (vii, 93) -- i.e. that knowledge per se [or, simply, to know] is virtue (the excellence appropriate to man).

... wisdom they define as the knowledge of things good and evil and of what is neither good nor evil ... (vii, 93)

... they hold that the vices are forms of ignorance of those things whereof the corresponding virtues are the knowledge. Good in general is that from which some advantage comes, and more particularly what is either identical with or not distinct from benefit. [Cf. The good as the useful (or beneficial) in Xenophon.] Whence it follows that virtue itself and whatever partakes of virtue is called good ... Another particular definition of good which they give is "the natural perfection of a rational being qua rational" [Comment: or, in other words, the excellence that is appropriate to the rational way of life]. Again, goods are either of the nature of ends or they are the means to those ends [Comment: This is a distinction between instruments (or strategies) and objectives (goals), which, rightly or wrongly, is now taken-for-granted by our ethics textbooks], or they are at the same time end and means.... The virtues (they say) are goods of the nature at once of ends and of means.... Vices are evils both as ends and as means ... (vii, 94-97)

Goods comprise the virtues of prudence, justice, courage, temperance, and the rest; all the opposites of these are evils, namely, folly, injustice, and the rest. Neutral (neither good nor evil, that is) are all those things which neither benefit nor harm a man; such as life, health, pleasure, beauty, strength, wealth, fair fame and noble birth, and their opposites, death, disease, pain, ugliness, weakness, poverty, ignominy, low birth, and the like.... For, say they, such things (as life, health, and pleasure) are not in themselves goods, but are morally indifferent, though falling under the species or subdivision "things preferred". (vii, 102-103)

Chrysippus [denies] that pleasure is a good ... for some pleasures are disgraceful, and nothing disgraceful is good. [Comment: if we replace the word 'pleasure' here with the word 'action', we see the absurdity of Chrysippus's contention. ALL does not follow from SOME.] (vii, 103)

Of things indifferent, as they express it, some are "preferred", others "rejected". Such as have [positive] value, they say, are "preferred", while such as have negative, instead of positive, value are "rejected". Value they define as, first, any contribution to harmonious living, such as attaches to every good ... (vii, 105)

But again there are things belonging to neither class [as e.g. "the fact that the number of hairs on one's head is odd or even" (vii, 104)]; such are not preferred, neither are they rejected. (vii, 106)

Zeno was the first to use the term kathekon of conduct. [Hicks: although this word may be translated by the word 'duty', "in the present passage [it] applies to the proper behavior of plants and animals no less than to that of human beings". (p. 212n)] (vii, 108)

Befitting acts are all those which reason prevails with us to do ... Unbefitting, or contrary to duty, are all acts that reason deprecates ... Acts which fall under neither of the foregoing classes are those which reason neither urges us to do nor forbids ... (vii, 108-109)

Passion, or emotion, is defined by Zeno as an irrational and unnatural [i.e. contrary to Nature] movement of the soul, or again as impulse in excess. They [the Stoics] hold the emotions to be judgments, as is stated by Chrysippus in his treatise On the Passions: avarice being a supposition that money is a good, while the case is similar with drunkenness and profligacy and all the other emotions. (vii, 110)

Contentiousness is a craving or desire connected with partisanship ... (vii, 113)

The passion of love is a craving from which good men are free; for it is an effort to win affection due to the physical presence of beauty. (vii, 113-114)

Malevolent joy is pleasure at another's ills. [Comment: cf. Plato: "to delight in our enemies' misfortunes is neither wrongful nor malicious" (Philebus 49d); the Stoics reject this and indeed it is inconsistent with Socrates' view (Crito 49b-d) that the good man will harm no one (and thus, as a corollary, will oppose that anyone be harmed).] (vii, 114)

Now they say that a wise man is passionless, because he is not prone to fall into such infirmity. But they add that in another sense the term "apathy" is applied to the bad man ... (vii, 117)

Again, the good are genuinely in earnest and vigilant for their own improvement, using a manner of life which banishes evil out of sight and makes what good there is in things appear. At the same time they are free from pretense ... (vii, 118)

The good ... are also worshipers of God; for they have acquaintance with the rites of the gods, and piety is the knowledge of how to serve the gods. (vii, 118)

Again, the Stoics say that a wise man will take part in politics, if nothing hinders him ... [Comment: this is the view of the Socrates of Xenophon (Memorabilia iii, 7).] (vii, 121)

Moreover, they say that the wise man will never form mere opinions, that is to say, he will never give assent to anything that is false; that he will also play the Cynic, Cynicism being a short cut to virtue, as Apollodorus calls it in his Ethics ... (vii, 121)

... they [the wise] never relax the penalties fixed by the laws, since indulgence and pity and even equitable consideration are marks of a weak mind, which affects kindness in place of chastising. Nor do they deem punishments too severe. (vii, 123)

Again, they say that the wise man never wonders at any of the things which appear extraordinary, such as ... hot springs or fiery eruptions. (vii, 123)

Nor yet, they go on to say, will the wise man live in solitude; for he is naturally made for society and action. He will, however, submit to training to augment his powers of bodily endurance. (vii, 123)

It is a tenet of theirs that between virtue and vice there is nothing intermediate, whereas according to the Peripatetics there is, namely, the state of moral improvement. For, say the Stoics, just as a stick must be either straight or crooked, so a man must be either just or unjust. Nor again are there degrees of justice and injustice; and the same rule applies to the other virtues. Further, while Chrysippus holds that virtue can be lost, Cleanthes maintains that it cannot. According to the former it may be lost in consequence of drunkenness or melancholy; the latter takes it to be inalienable owing to the certainty of our mental apprehension. (vii, 127)

It is their [the Stoics] doctrine that there can be no question of right as between man and the lower animals, because of their unlikeness. (vii, 129)

Definition of "the beautiful"

By the beautiful [The Greek word is kalon, which does not translate directly into English] is meant properly and in an unique sense that good which renders its possessors praiseworthy, or briefly, good which is worthy of praise; though in another sense it signifies a good aptitude for one's proper function; while in yet another sense the beautiful is that which lends new grace to anything ... (vii, 100)

The Stoic Physics

... the mathematicians are also concerned [with the universe, the Stoics say, with] e.g. whether the sun is or is not just so large as it appears to be, and the same about the moon ... how vision is to be explained, what causes the image on the mirror, what is the origin of clouds, thunder, rainbows, halos, comets, and the like.... But there is another aspect or field of cosmological ['cosmos' here = kosmon] inquiry, which belongs to the physicists alone; this includes such questions as what the substance of the universe is, whether the sun and the stars are made up of form and matter, whether the world has had a beginning in time or not, whether it [i.e. the universe] is animate or inanimate, whether it is destructible or indestructible, whether it is governed by providence, and all the rest. (vii, 132-133)

Comment: then to translate Stoic terms into our terms: Stoic 'mathematics' = our 'natural science', and Stoic 'physics' = our 'metaphysics'.

They hold that there are two principles in the universe, the active principle and the passive. The passive principle, then, is a substance without quality, i.e. matter, whereas the active is the reason inherent in this substance, that is God. For he is everlasting and is the artificer of each several thing throughout the whole extent of matter. This doctrine is laid down by Zeno of Citium [as well as by Cleanthes, Chrysippus, Archedemus, and Posidonius]. (vii, 134)

The following concerns the so-called undefined terms of geometry, and is a bit off-topic for metaphysics (unless by "metaphysics" is simply meant philosophical nonsense).

... surface [i.e. plane] is the extremity of a solid body, or that which has length and breadth only without depth. [A body or solid body, according to Apollodorus, is "that which is extended in three dimensions: length, breadth, and depth".] ... A line is the extremity of a surface or length without breadth, or that which has length alone. A point is the extremity of a line, the smallest possible mark or dot. (vii,135)

That is a topic in the Philosophy of Geometry. The Stoic definition, which is a false grammatical account of how the word 'point' is used in geometry, treats the word 'point' as if it were the name of an object ("the smallest possible mark or dot") -- that is, it pictures (imagines) geometric points as having a physical presence in the world of experience. [What would a materialist account of geometry be like? But that is a question for elsewhere.]

God is one and same with Reason, Fate, and Zeus; he is also called by many other names. In the beginning he was by himself; he transformed the whole of substance through air into water, just as in animal generation the seed has a moist vehicle, so in cosmic moisture God, who is the seminal reason of the universe, remains behind in the moisture as such an agent, adapting matter to himself with a view to the next stage of creation. (vii, 135-136)

Comment: I think, although I may be mistaken, that for the Greeks, to say that a human being (or, "man" as in mankind) has a "soul" is to say that he is a rational being, or, a being endowed with reason -- which makes him special, because "the world is ordered by reason [which] pervades every part of it, just as does the soul in us" (vii, 138). Why would not this fact -- that a human being is able to generate a soul (for human generation is far more than the procreation of a body, which is all that plant or animal generation is said to be: because a human being can generate another soul) -- why should not that fact strike the Stoics as so profound a fact as to justify the analogy from that fact to the picture of God as the "seminal [as in "semen"] reason of the universe" (vii, 136). (The Stoics, or some Stoics, apparently believed that the female seed is sterile (vii, 159), so that, I think, their picture ["theory", but this was not an hypothesis, that is, a thesis they were in a position to test (verify, falsify)] is that, just as a plant drops its seed into a sterile earth, the male plants a seed in the female.)

Stoic 'cosmos' means both God and orderly arrangement

The term universe or cosmos is used by them [the Stoics] in three senses: (1) of God himself, the individual being whose quality is derived from the whole of substance [Comment: I don't know what 'derived' means here; does it mean e.g. that 'We deduce the nature of God from ...'?]; he is indestructible and ingenerable, being the artificer of this orderly arrangement, who at stated periods of time absorbs into himself the whole of substance and again creates it from himself. (2) Again, they give the name of cosmos to the orderly arrangement of the heavenly bodies in itself as such; and (3) in the third place to that whole of which these two are parts. (vii, 137-138)

By heaven is meant the extreme circumstance or ring in which the deity has his seat. (vii, 138)

The world [The Greek word komos is normally best rendered 'world' rather than 'universe' (p. 242n)], in their view, is ordered by reason and providence ... inasmuch as reason pervades every part of it, just as does the soul in us.... Thus, then, the whole world is a living being, endowed with soul and reason, and having aether for its ruling principle [but Posidonius says heaven, and Cleanthes the sun [which, according to Posidonius, is "pure fire"].(vii, 138-139) [Of the four elements] fire is the hot element, water the moist, air the cold, earth the dry.... Fire has the uppermost place; it is also called aether, and in it the sphere of the fixed stars is first created; then comes the sphere of the planets, next to that the air, then the water, and lowest of all the earth, which is at the center of all things. (vii, 137)

By the totality of things, the All, is meant, according to Apollodorus, (1) the world, and in another sense (2) the system composed of the world and the void outside it. The world then is finite, the void infinite. (vii, 143)

[According to Posidonius] the sun is pure fire ... Moreover it is spherical in shape like the world itself ... They [the Stoics, apparently] hold that the stars are spherical in shape and that they earth too is so and is at rest; and that the moon does not shine by her own light, but by the borrowed light of the sun when he shines upon her. (vii, 144-145)

An eclipse of the sun takes place when the moon passes in front of it on the side towards us, as shown by Zeno with a diagram in his treatise On the Whole. For the moon is seen approaching at conjunctions and occulting it and then again receding from it. This can best be observed when they are mirrored in a basin of water. (vii, 145-146)

The deity, they say, is a living being, immortal, rational, perfect or intelligent in happiness, admitting nothing evil [into him], taking providential care of the world and all that therein is, but he is not of human shape. He is, however, the artificer of the universe and, as it were, the father of all, both in general and in that particular part of him which is all pervading, and which is called many names according to its various powers.... men have given the deity his other titles, fastening, as best they can, on some one or other of its peculiar attributes. [For example, they call the deity "Zeus"] in so far as he is the cause of life ... or pervades all life; the name Athena is given, because the ruling part of the divinity extends to the aether.... Demeter, since it reaches to the earth. (vii, 147; Note: the bracketed words 'into him' above were put there by the translator Hicks.)

The substance of God is declared by Zeno to be the whole world and the heaven ... (vii, 148)

Now the term Nature is used by them to mean sometimes that which holds the world together, sometimes that which causes terrestrial things to spring up.... Nature, they hold, aims both at utility and at pleasure, as is clear from the analogy of human craftsmanship. (vii, 148-149)

[According to Zeno, Chrysippus, and Posedonius] all things happen by fate or destiny ... Fate is defined as an endless chain of causation, whereby things are, or as the reason or formula by which the world goes on. (vii, 149)

Chrysippus says that the division [of matter; "By matter is meant that out of which anything whatsoever is produced"] is not ad infinitum, but itself infinite; for there is nothing infinitely small to which the division can extend. But nevertheless the division goes on without ceasing. (vii, 150)

[Aside: The obvious objection to "logical atomism" appears to be that nothing is absolutely simple, that division can go on indefinitely. Why it is that Wittgenstein was, at that time, seemingly blind to this, I don't know, unless he had in mind that by "a simple" he meant the simplest possible sense datum, whatever that may be (for, as he later said, he had thought it the task of science to determine that). But in that case, we are not talking about logical atomism, but about "sense-impression atomism"; nonetheless, Wittgenstein does seem to speak as if he were talking about logical atoms -- if that is what his "objects" are -- or atomism when he says that, in Ogden's translation (which was approved by Wittgenstein), "What is the case, the fact, is the existence of atomic facts" (2, 2.021, etc.). Perhaps he did not at that time think, but this would belong to a "theory", that the division of "matter" (unlike division in mathematics) can go on indefinitely. But again, then would he talking about logical atomism? Does not logical atomism = mathematical atomism? Well, I am very ignorant about these things. But it is not obvious that the division of matter cannot go on indefinitely -- i.e. that it must (empirically) be the case that the division of matter ultimately arrives at uncuttables ("atoms"); nor is it obvious that the existence of atoms is logically necessary either.]

Also they hold that there are daemons (daimones) who are in sympathy with mankind and watch over human affairs. (vii, 151)

Of the changes which go on in the air, they describe winter as the cooling of the air above the earth due to the sun's departure to a distance from the earth; spring as the right temperature of the air consequent upon his approach to us; summer is the heating of the air above the earth when he travels to the north; while autumn they attribute to the receding of the sun from us. (vii, 151-152)

The rainbow is explained as the reflection of the sun's rays from watery clouds ... (vii, 152)

Rain is the transformation of cloud into water, when moisture drawn up by the sun from land or sea has only partially evaporated. If this is cooled down, it is called hoar-frost. Hail is frozen cloud crumbled by the wind; while snow is moist matter from a cloud which has congealed: so [says] Posidonius ... Lightening is a kindling of clouds from being rubbed together or being rent by wind, as Zeno says in his treatise On the Whole; thunder the noise these clouds make when they rub against each other or burst. .... Earthquakes, say they, happen when the wind finds its way into, or is imprisoned in, the hollow parts of the earth: so Posidonius ... (vii, 153-154)

And there are five terrestrial zones: first, the northern zone which is beyond the arctic circle, uninhabitable because of the cold; second, a temperate zone; a third, uninhabitable because of the great heats, called the torrid zone; fourth, a counter-temperate zone; fifth, the southern zone, uninhabitable because of its cold. (vii, 156)

Comment: the fourth and fifth zones may appear to be the creation of a mind desiring symmetry, because their existences were outside the experience of the Greeks of that time (so far as I know), like the Pythagorean requirement that there be a counter-earth. However, the deduction that there must be fourth and fifth zones may be justified by the Stoic theory (or picture) of the seasons (vii, 151-152).

Zeno of Citium [defines] the soul as a warm breath; for by this we become animate and this enables us to move. (vii, 157)

They [the Stoics, apparently] count eight parts of the soul: the five senses, the generative power in us, our power of speech, and that of reasoning. (vii, 157)

We hear when the air between the sonant body and the organ of hearing suffers concussion, a vibration which spreads spherically and then forms waves and strikes upon the ears, just as the water in a reservoir forms wavy circles when a stone is thrown into it. Sleep is caused, they say, by the slackening of the tension in our senses, which affects the ruling part of the soul. They consider that the passions are caused by the variations of the vital breath. (vii, 158)

Semen is defined by them as that which is capable of generating offspring like the parent. And the human semen which is admitted by a human parent in a moist vehicle is mingled with parts of the soul, blended in the same ratio in which they are present in the parent. (vii, 158-159)

Such is the summary of [the Stoic] Physics. (vii, 160)

Some Early Stoics after Zeno

Next Diogenes Laertius briefly summarizes by individual philosopher "the points on which certain of the Stoics differed from the rest" (vii, 160). The first three, namely, Ariston, Herillus and Dionysius, he calls "the heterodox Stoics". And says that, "The legitimate successor to Zeno, however, was Cleanthes." (vii, 167)

Ariston the Bald, of Chios (c. 320-250 B.C.)

The Stoic doctrine to which he attached most importance was the wise man's refusal to hold mere opinions. And against this doctrine Persaeus was contending when he induced one of a pair of twins to deposit a certain sum with Ariston and afterwards got the other to reclaim it. Ariston being thus reduced to perplexity was refuted. (vii, 162)

He wished to discard both Logic and Physics, saying that Physics was beyond our reach and Logic did not concern us: all that did concern us was Ethics. Dialectical reasonings, he said, are like spiders' webs, which, though they seem to display some artistic workmanship, are yet of no use. (vii, 160-161)

The story goes that being bald he had a sunstroke and so came to his end. (vii, 164)

Herillus of Carthage (flor. c. 260 B.C.)

Herillus ... declared the end of action to be Knowledge, that is, so to live as always to make the scientific life the standard of all things and not to be misled by ignorance. Knowledge he defined as a habit of mind, not to be upset by argument, in the acceptance of presentations. (vii, 165)

He made a distinction between end-in-chief and subordinate end; even the unwise may aim at the latter, but only the wise seek the true end of life. (vii, 165)

Stoic notion: "presentations"

The Stoic notion of "opinion" -- i.e. the acceptance of a false presentation as true -- concerns not only sense perceptions but also, as it were, mental perceptions, or, in other words, "impressions [that are] received through the mind itself, as is the case with incorporeal things and all the other presentations which are received by reason.... But there are also presentations that are appearances and no more, purporting, as it were, to come from real objects" (vii, 51).

Hicks makes a distinction between the word 'presentation' and the words 'perception' and 'impression', saying that 'presentation' is nearer to the Greek word denoting "the immediate datum of consciousness or experience, whether presented to sense or in certain cases to the mind" (p. 152n).

Dionysius of Heraclea (c. 330-250 B.C.)

Dionysius, called the Renegade, declared pleasure was the end of action; this under the circumstance of an attack of ophthalmia. For so violent was his suffering that he could not bring himself to call pain a thing indifferent.... When he fell away from Zeno, he went over to the Cyrenaics, and used to frequent houses of ill fame and indulge in all other excesses without disguise. (vii, 166-167)

Cleanthes of Assos (c. 331-232 B.C.)

He arrived in Athens ... and meeting with Zeno he studied philosophy right nobly and adhered to the same doctrines throughout. (vii, 168)

He used to say that the Peripatetics were in the same case as lyres which, although they give forth sweet sounds, never hear themselves. (vii, 173)

When some one twitted him on his old age, his reply was, "I too am ready to depart; but when again I consider that I am in all points in good health and that I can still write and read, I am content to wait." (vii, 174)

Sphaerus of Bosporus (flor. c. 220 B.C.)

... after the death of Zeno [Sphaerus became a pupil of Cleanthes]. After making considerable progress in his studies, he went to Alexandria ... One day ... the king, wishing to refute him, ordered some waxen pomegranates to be put on the table. Sphaerus was taken in and the king cried out, "You have given your assent to a presentation which is false." But Sphaerus was ready with a neat answer. "I assented not to the proposition that they are pomegranates, but to another, that there are good grounds for thinking them to be pomegranates. Certainty of presentation and reasonable probability are two totally different things." (vii, 177)

Comment: To say that the wise man is never mistaken when he accepts a presentation as true cannot of course be maintained, but only that the wise person will always seek to verify or falsify any presentation about which there are reasonable grounds for doubting its truth. But does Sphaerus have objective grounds for doubt here? If all he is doing is stating a general principle of the sort "All presentations are to be regarded as either reasonably probable or reasonably improbable regardless of whether or not there are any objective grounds for doubt", then he is saying nothing at all. And his reply to the king is a mere tautology, one that he might use on any occasion to justify the claim that the wise man will never be mistaken in his acceptance or rejection of presentations, or in other words, that he will never hold "opinions" (those being the acceptance of a false presentation as true).

Chrysippus of Soli or Tarsus (c. 282-206 B.C.)

He was a pupil of Cleanthes.... and then, while Cleanthes was still living, withdrew from his school and attained exceptional eminence as a philosopher. He ... showed the greatest acuteness in every branch of the subject; so much so that he differed on most points from Zeno, and from Cleanthes as well, to whom he [Chrysippus] often used to say that all he wanted was to be told what the doctrines were; he would find out the proof for himself. (vii, 179)

In industry he surpassed everyone, as the list of his writings shows; for there are more than 705 of them. He increased their number by arguing repeatedly on the same subject, setting down anything that occurred to him, making many corrections and citing numerous authorities. (vii, 180)

[Aside: That is what, for the most part, my sixty-two pages of philosophical notes amount to.]

Of Chrysippus the old woman [i.e. his attendant slave] who sat beside him used to say, according to Diocles, that he wrote 500 lines a day. (vii, 181)

Once when somebody reproached him for not going with the multitude to hear Ariston, he rejoined, "If I had followed the multitude, I should not have studied philosophy." (vii, 182)

At wine-parties he used to behave quietly, though he was unsteady on his legs; which caused the woman-slave to say, "As for Chrysippus, only his legs get tipsy." (vii, 183)

His opinion of himself was so high that when someone enquired, "To whom shall I entrust my son?" he replied, "To me: for, if I had dreamt of there being anyone better than myself, I should myself be studying with him." (vii, 183)

... he was satisfied with one old woman's judgment, says Demetrius in his work called Men of the Same Name.... Demetrius above mentioned is also our authority for the statement that Chrysippus was the first who ventured to hold a lecture-class in the open air in the Lyceum. (vii, 185)

He used to propound arguments such as the following:... "If anyone is in Megara, he is not in Athens: now there is a man in Megara, therefore there is not a man in Athens." (vii, 186-187)

Comment: This is like the White King's confusion over the word 'nobody' in Through the Looking Glass vii, as if 'a man' were a proper name. And indeed in the Stoic logic is found the following example, wherein the word 'anyone' is treated as if it were a proper name, and the "someone here" were named 'Anyone'.

There also certain insoluble arguments [among which is] the Nobodies.... The Nobody argument is an argument whose major premise consists of an indefinite and a definite clause, followed by a minor premise and a conclusion; for example, "If anyone is here, he is not in Rhodes; but there is some one here, therefore there is not anyone in Rhodes." (vii, 82)

And further: "If you never lost something, you have it still; but you never lost horns, ergo you have horns." Others attribute this to Eubulides [of Miletus, who belonged to the school of Euclides of Megara [c. 450-380 B.C.], the Socratic; one of the Comic poets called him "Eubulides the Eristic"; see Diog. L. ii, 108; but The Horned One is there described as "a dialectical [argument] in an interrogatory form"]. (vii, 187)

Comment: If, that is, you never lost something that you had in your possession. Since you never had horns, you could not lose them, as they were never yours to lose.

The next argument shows the result of not making a distinction between a sign and its meaning or use (although in this case, the sign happens to be a common name; see PI § 43b).

Again: "If you say something, it passes through your lips; now you say wagon, consequently a wagon passes through your lips." (vii, 187)

Comment: The word 'wagon' does not = a wagon. And, further, the meaning of the name 'wagon' is not a wagon (Nor is its meaning a Platonic Form, namely "wagon-hood" or "wagon-ness", an "abstract object" -- i.e. ghost, a self-mystification like all other conjured-up [But there is a better word for this, which I cannot call to mind -- Ah, it is 'hypostatized' and 'reified'] abstractions (PI § 36)).


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