- Stoicism1 Brad Inwood 1 FROM SOCRATES TO ZENO More than eighty years passed between the death of Socrates in 399 BC and the arrival in Athens of Zeno in 312. Athenian society had undergone enormous upheavals, both political and social. The Greek world had been reshaped by the rise of Macedonian military and political power and by Alexander the Great’s conquests in the East, which opened up new regions for commercial and political expansion. This was also one of the most creative periods of philosophical development in the history of the ancient world. It encompassed the careers of Plato and Aristotle; the schools which carried on their legacy developed and matured. There was continued Pythagorean activity. Mathematics and geometry flourished. Other philosophical movements arose in surprising numbers; some of these, like Epicurus’ Garden and the Stoa itself, were to thrive and become a permanent part of the philosophical landscape, though many were ephemeral. Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, came to Athens from Citium on Cyprus when he was in his early twenties (DL 7.28); according to one source (DL 7.31), his appetite for philosophy had already been stimulated by reading ‘Socratic books’ brought back by his father, a merchant, from his voyages.<sup>2</sup> Zeno himself is said to have come to Athens on a commercial voyage, but it is hard not to suspect that the real attraction was philosophy. And when he arrived the philosophical scene was rich and varied. Plato, of course, had been dead for a generation. The fourth head of his school, Polemo, had just taken over; Platonic dialogues were standard reading. Aristotle had fled Athens and died in Euboea ten years before. His associate Theophrastus was still at the head of the school founded to continue Aristotle’s programme of work. Philosophers from nearby Megara were also active on the Athenian scene; one of them, Stilpo, was a sophisticated practitioner of dialectic and also had strong interests in ethics and metaphysics. Other dialecticians contributed to a heady atmosphere of argument and logical challenge: perhaps the most famous was Diodorus Cronus. A particularly striking feature of Athenian intellectual life at the time was the emergence of the ‘Cynics’. These were a loose group of philosophers who claimed Socratic inspiration for their distinctive interest in ethics, in the cultivation of the excellences of character as the key to human fulfilment. They combined radical social criticism with an ascetic devotion to natural simplicity and frank speech; equally Socratic was their dedication to the rational articulation of their social ideals. For the Cynics, ethical and social norms were only as good as the justification that could be given for them. They claimed to stand for ‘nature’, as opposed to baseless social convention; they aimed to undermine, by their speech and their example, what they regarded as the empty and hypocritical conventions of Greek city life. This double concentration, on reason and on nature, must have appealed to Zeno. After arriving in Athens he drifted by a book shop, where book two of Xenophon’s Socratic Reminiscences was being read aloud;<sup>3</sup> Zeno enthusiastically asked where he could find men like the ones described there (DL 7.2–3). A Cynic philosopher, Crates of Thebes, was passing by, and the bookseller said ‘follow him’. Zeno did, and spent many years in his company. Crates, of course, had been a follower of Diogenes of Sinope. Diogenes, in turn, was supposedly an associate of Antisthenes, a close follower of Socrates, a contemporary and rival of Plato, and (according to tradition) the founder of Cynicism. The dual influence of Socrates and Cynicism shaped the central concerns of the Stoic school from its foundations. Zeno’s predilection for ethical and political philosophy no doubt had its roots in his years with Crates. But Zeno was a restless philosopher, and sought out other teachers too. The Megarian Stilpo left his mark on many aspects of Zeno’s philosophy. Diodorus Cronus led him in the direction of serious work in logic, which remained a central interest of the school for centuries. There was even a longish period of study in the Academy. Polemo’s special expertise in ethics can only have confirmed the Socratic interests which had brought Zeno to philosophy in the first place. The impact of the Academic division of philosophy into logic, ethics, and physics was fundamental for the development of Stoicism; but the strong systematizing tendencies of the school may also owe something to the influence of Aristotle’s followers, who laboured away in the Lyceum of Theophrastus. Zeno never joined that rather specialized group of scientists and philosophers, but he can hardly have ignored the influence of a lecturer like Theophrastus, who was apparently able to draw a crowd of two thousand for his public lectures.<sup>4</sup> Zeno obviously took advantage of the wealth of philosophical opportunity available to him in Athens, and when he began to give his own public lectures in the famous Painted Stoa his system showed the influence of this breadth of education and interest. This breadth is sometimes disparaged as evidence of a merely synthetic philosophy, but a mere synthesis would never have had the impact of the school which Zeno founded, a school which lasted for half a millennium and which for much of that time was the leading philosophical movement of the day. It is more plausible to think of his lectures, and the system which developed out of them, as being the result of a rich tradition of theory and argumentation, focused by the critical intelligence of Zeno and his successors. 2 NATURE AND PHILOSOPHY ‘Nature’ as a philosophical concept had a long history in Greek culture. The emergence of philosophy itself is closely connected with the demarcation of what is ‘natural’—what happens apart from the intervention of anthropomorphic beings—as a subject of investigation. The understanding of nature as what functions without anthropomorphic intervention came into renewed prominence in the sophistic movement of the fifth century, with the contrast between nature and ‘convention’ (nomos); here the foil for nature is human society, its values, and its institutions. In such contrasts nature usually has a positive value. To say something is natural is to claim that it is reliable in a way that nothing can be which is dependent on changeable personal decisions or social norms. Speaking in broad terms, nature is viewed with approval because it is in principle stable and consistently explicable, and these are traits regularly favoured by philosophers, ancient and modern. Hence in the fourth century BC philosophers frequently claimed as natural those features of their systems which they regarded as fundamental. For Plato the Forms and certain facts about moral and political reality are ‘natural’; Aristotle finds that goaldirectedness is a basic feature of the natural world (‘Nature does nothing in vain’); Epicurus calls the basic entities of his physical system, atoms and void, ‘natures’ and grounds his hedonism on the belief that all animals naturally desire and pursue pleasure. The Cynics urged that we should follow nature, properly understood, and not mere convention; hence the famous slogan of Diogenes ‘deface the currency’ (nomisma), which plays on the etymological linkage between nomos and nomisma. Stoicism, though, is the ancient school most solidly associated with the concept of nature. In their ethics the Stoics claimed that the key to human fulfilment lay in living a life according to nature; they devoted a great deal of intellectual energy to physics, the study of the natural world; they argued that a godlike rationality was the central feature of human nature and even identified nature with god. Nature was formally defined as ‘a craftsmanlike fire, proceeding methodically to creation (genesis)’ (DL 7.156): the rational plan controlling the organization and development of the world and materially immanent in it. Zeno’s decision to build his new system around the concept of nature was triggered by the influence of Cynicism, but the rich conception of nature which he built into so many parts of his philosophy brings together the entire tradition. A striking feature of Stoicism was its insistence on the unity and coordination of all the traditional aspects of philosophical activity. From the beginnings until the time of Plato philosophical enquiry ranged widely over many kinds of subject matter: the physical world, the nature of human perception and understanding, the organization of society, the nature of a good life, etc. Even in Plato there is no neat division between ethics and metaphysics, between epistemology and logic. But in the late fourth century philosophers became more self-conscious about the relationships between the various subjects philosophy dealt with. Epicurus grouped what we might call epistemology, logic, and scientific method under the heading ‘canonic’; and two of Plato’s followers, Xenocrates and Aristotle, developed their own views on the branches of philosophical enquiry. Aristotle’s division is complex and based on the belief that different subject matters had their own independent first principles of explanation. But Aristotle matters less than the Platonist Xenocrates, who first divided philosophy formally into three parts: logic, physics, and ethics. Zeno seems to have adopted this division from his teacher Polemo and it became the standard for the school. With the exception of Aristo of Chios, who rejected everything but ethics (and was later regarded as unorthodox), all Stoics accepted this division, calling the branches variously ‘topics’, ‘species’, or ‘kinds’ (DL 7.39). Cleanthes subdivided further into six parts: logic into dialectic and rhetoric, ethics into ethics proper and politics, physics into physics proper and theology (DL 7.41). Philosophy as a whole was variously described as ‘the pursuit of wisdom’, as ‘the pursuit of correctness of reason’, and as ‘the knowledge of things human and divine and their causes’. But the formal division of philosophy does raise questions about the relationship between the parts and their appropriate pedagogical order. Here there was a natural and healthy difference of opinion within the school. The disagreement was expressed through a variety of similes describing the relationship of the parts to each other (DL 7.40). Some compared philosophy to an animal: logic was the bones and sinews, ethics the flesh, and physics the soul. Or it was like an egg: logic is the shell, the white is ethics, and the yolk is physics. Alternatively, logic is the wall around an orchard, with physics being the land and trees and ethics the fruit.<sup>5</sup> Various pedagogical orderings were proposed, though all Stoics seem to have agreed that since the separation of parts was not absolute the teaching would also have to be mixed to some extent. Plutarch (Stoic Self-contradictions 1035ab) preserves the view of Chrysippus, the third head of the school (after Cleanthes), whose views are often treated as the standard version of early Stoicism; he preferred the order logic, ethics, physics, ending with theology. In practice it was impossible for the school to maintain a clean separation between the parts of philosophy, however those parts were conceived: those Stoics who championed the inseparability of one part from another, both in substance and in teaching, were proven right. 3 LOGIC AND LOGOS Logic must be understood in two distinct senses. As the Stoics themselves used the word, it designates that part of philosophy which deals with logos, reason or articulate speech, in any of its various aspects. The narrower sense of ‘logic’ is more familiar to modern readers: a systematic and formal study of propositions, arguments, their relationships to each other and their validity. The Stoics are of enormous importance for the history of logic in this narrower sense, but it is important to bear in mind that this was only one part, perhaps in their eyes not the central one, of the study of logos.<sup>6</sup> In the broad sense, logic is divided into two branches of knowledge.<sup>7</sup> Rhetoric is the study of relatively long, continuous speeches and dialectic is the study of discussions conducted by means of short questions and answers. Each aims at speaking well in its own domain. But what are those domains? Traditionally, rhetoric aimed at persuasion as such, rather than at knowledge. This goal could be held in contempt, as it was by Plato in the Gorgias, or taken at face value, as it was by most rhetorical theorists, or rehabilitated philosophically, as it was by Aristotle. This traditional understanding of the goal could not have been irrelevant to the Stoics, since they also followed the tradition in their division of rhetoric into forensic, deliberative, and encomiastic (panegyric) or epideictic, and in their breakdown of the parts of the standard forensic speech (DL 7.42–3). Yet they could not accept that rhetoric, as a kind of knowledge and so as a part of the life of the virtuous wise man, aimed at no more than persuasion, disregarding the truth and the purpose of the speech. ‘Speaking well’ also meant speaking truly and virtuously. Rhetoric was taught by the Stoics, but in such a way that it challenged rather than accommodated the more conventional understanding of rhetoric and its function.<sup>8</sup> Its aim seems to have been the same as that of dialectic: the attainment of truth through ordered discourse and argument. The difference between rhetoric and dialectic, then, came down to a matter of form: rhetoric is broader and more extensive in its presentation of argument; dialectic denser and more compact. Zeno tried to illustrate this difference with a comparison. Dialectic is a like a tightly closed fist and rhetoric like the same hand opened out with fingers extended. Same hand, different configuration. We don’t know how far Zeno wanted this comparison to be pushed, but one might note that a fist typically has a great deal more power and impact than an open palm. Dialectic could punch; rhetoric merely slapped. This conception of rhetoric drained much of the strength from traditional rhetorical practice. Lawyers and politicians do not limit themselves to giving sound arguments for what they believe to be true conclusions. But Stoic rhetoric hobbled speakers in yet another way. The style used by the Stoic orator was to be plain, simple, direct, and unemotional. No wonder that Cicero dismissed the rhetorical theory of Cleanthes and Chrysippus as fit only for someone who wants to learn the arts of silence (De Finibus 4. 7). Dialectic is by far the more important part of logic. In contrast to rhetoric, it deals with discourse in question and answer format, in the tradition represented by Plato’s Socratic dialogues and Aristotle’s Topics. The root meaning of the term ‘dialectic’ in Greek is ‘conversation’, and the context of live philosophical encounter was never far from centre stage. It was a crucial part of philosophical activity in the early years of the school’s history. Arcesilaus, head of the Academy and chief Platonist of his day, only philosophized orally. Carneades, some decades later, did the same. The Megarian style of argumentation also reflects oral debate. But the characterization of dialectic as knowledge of what is true, what is false, and what is neither true nor false points to a much broader and more ambitious study of human discourse and its relation to what is real. The standard breakdown of dialectic into its component topics confirms this (DL 7.43–4). Dialectic, we are told, covers the content of human discourse, i.e., what is signified by our utterances, as well as the utterances themselves. ‘What is signified’ covers both the representational contents of sense perception (presentations, phantasiai) and the propositions and predicates which depend on them. Thus most of what we would consider epistemology could be treated as a part of dialectic by the Stoics. But since the ontological status of things like propositions is evidently problematic (not least for a school which held a form of materialism) this area of dialectic also touches on metaphysics and philosophy of mind.<sup>9</sup> ‘Utterance’ itself is also understood quite broadly. It includes (among other things) what we would call purely linguistic and grammatical phenomena: a physical account of utterance as sound appropriately set in motion by the speech organs; a discussion of the letters of the alphabet and the phonemes native to the Greek language; regional dialects; the canons and criteria used to settle questions of proper usage and good style; and the linguistic phenomena distinctive of poetry. The analysis of the parts of speech is also part of the study of utterance. It is curious that the parts of speech (name, common noun, verb, conjunction, article)<sup>10</sup> are treated under the heading of ‘utterance’ as linguistic and grammatical matters, while apparently similar matters (the categorization of sentences into types such as propositions, questions, oaths, imperatives, the difference between active and passive propositions, and so forth) should be treated under the heading of ‘things signified’. The reasons for this are not particularly clear in our sources,<sup>11</sup> but for present purposes two points are most important. First, as professional philosophers the Stoics influenced and were influenced by professional grammarians, providing a philosophical rationale (however unclear it might be to us now) for their analysis which competed with the more straightforwardly descriptive principles developed by grammarians. Second, the Stoic analysis of grammar is the culmination of the philosophical contribution to grammar which began with the Sophists in the fifth century BC and continued in the work of Plato, Aristotle and their followers. After the creative interaction of grammar and philosophical analysis of language in the Hellenistic period,<sup>12</sup> Greek grammar more or less went its own way, marked for ever by the contribution of Stoicism. Let us now turn to the narrower and more familiar sense of logic, the study of forms of inference, arguments, and validity. One view about the role of logic in the Stoics’ system suggests that logic has a defensive function —it is like the wall around a garden or the shell around an egg (DL 7.40); Posidonius compared logic to the bones and sinews of an animal, which suggests a more integral role for logic, giving shape and definition as well as strength to the flesh and soul (physics and ethics).<sup>13</sup> That dialectic is a virtue, though, seems to be the view of all orthodox Stoics (Aristo of Chios apparently disagreed—DL 7.160–161). It was valued for its contribution to the living of a stable and orderly life as well as for its help in establishing the truth; most Stoics would have thought these two functions to be intimately connected. Here is one account of the contribution made by dialectic and its parts: They say that the study of syllogisms is extremely useful; for it indicates what is demonstrative, and this makes a big contribution towards correcting one’s opinions; and orderliness and good memory indicate attentive comprehension…. Dialectic itself is necessary and is a virtue which contains other virtues as species. Freedom from hasty judgement is knowledge of when one ought to assent and when not. And level-headedness is a strong-minded rationality with respect to what is likely, so that one does not give in to it. And irrefutability is strength in argument, so that one is not swept away by it to an opposite opinion. And intellectual seriousness is a disposition which refers presentations to right reason. Knowledge itself, they say, is either a secure grasp or a disposition in the reception of presentations not reversible by argument. And the wise man will not be free of error in argument without the study of dialectic. For truth and falsity are distinguished by it and persuasive and ambiguous statements are properly discerned by it. And without it methodical question and answer are impossible. Hasty judgement in assertions has an impact on events, so that those who are not well exercised in handling presentations turn to unruliness and aimlessness. And there is no other way for the wise man to show himself to be sharp, quick-witted and, in general, clever in arguments. For the same man will be able to converse properly and reason things out and also take a position on issues put to him and respond to questions—these are the characteristics of a man experienced in dialectic. (DL 7.45–48) As Ian Mueller puts it, logic had ‘both an epistemological and a moral significance for the Stoics’.<sup>14</sup> It helps a person to see what is the case, reason effectively about practical affairs, stand his or her ground amid confusion, differentiate the certain from the probable, and so forth. Moreover, it protects him or her from being misled by captious argumentation and fallacies, such as the sôritês. Beyond that, the study of argument and inference had become an independently interesting and important part of philosophy. The formal study of logic began with Aristotle and was further stimulated by the deliberately provocative use of paradoxes and puzzles by the Megarians; and the Stoics (especially Chrysippus), unlike the Epicureans, sought to develop logic as a discipline. Aristotle’s syllogistic deals primarily with the relations between terms (usually symbolized by letters of the alphabet) which are connected into statements and arguments by means of quantifiers (‘all’, ‘none’ or ‘some’) and predicating expressions (‘is’ and ‘is not’). The fundamental and simplest syllogistic form is: All B is A All C is B all C is A. This form of inference and a few others are self-evidently valid (‘perfect’), and Aristotle’s formal logic is largely taken up with study of these inference forms, their relations to each other, and their relation to other valid inference forms. Aristotle held that the validity of any valid inference form could in some way be derived from the perfect syllogisms. These, consequently, are basic to his system. Unlike Aristotle, the Stoics took propositions (symbolized by ordinal numbers) to be the basic units of analysis in logic. They worked with a small set of operators which they used to link propositions: ‘if’, ‘and’, ‘not’, and exclusive ‘or’. They recognized five basic inference forms, or indemonstrable arguments, and seem to have held that any valid argument form could be derived from these indemonstrables by purely logical means. This gave the Stoics a sound procedure for assessing and explaining validity. The five indemonstrables are as follows: I If the first, the second. But the first. the second. II If the first, the second. But not the second. not the first. III Not both the first and the second. But the first. Λ not the second. IV Either the first or the second. But the first. Λ not the second. V Either the first or the second. But not the second. the first. It is not clear how much effort Stoic logicians put into the attempt to show formally that any valid inference form could be reduced to these forms. But it is known that they had at least four ‘rules’ or logical principles which they used in the analysis of arguments and argument forms. One example of this sort of analysis is preserved for us by Simplicius in his commentary on Aristotle’s De Caelo (236.33). The third ‘rule’ is this: if from two propositions (a, b) a third (c) follows, and from this conclusion (c) and a further proposition (d) another conclusion (e) follows, then the final conclusion (e) follows from (a), (b), and (d). The example given by Simplicius is from physics. (a) Every body which is in a place is perceptible. (b) No perceptible body is infinite. (c) No body which is in a place is infinite. (d) What is outside the heavens is in place. (e) There is no infinite body outside the heavens. There is also a Stoic criterion for validity (Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism 2.137): an argument is valid if a conditional which has the premisses of the argument as antecedent and the conclusion of the argument as consequent is itself sound. Suppose the argument to be tested for validity is: If it is day it is light But it is day it is light. This will be valid if the following conditional is sound: If (it is day) and (if it is day it is light) then it is light. In such a simple case the criterion will not tell us anything that our logical intuitions do not already recognize. But for more complex or less clear argument forms such a test could be quite useful. The logical relations used by the Stoics deserve a brief comment. As noted, the ‘or’ they employed is exclusive; by contrast modern formal logic generally uses an inclusive ‘or’. ‘And’ is straightforward, while the main point of interest about ‘not’ is the care which the Stoics took to be clear about the scope of the negation. Sometimes ‘not’ negates a term in a proposition, and sometimes it negates an entire proposition. In Stoic logic, which works with propositions rather than terms, ‘not’ can be used deliberately to negate whole propositions and normal Greek word order is violated to make this clear. It is as though we were to re-express ‘Socrates has not conversed with Aristotle’ as ‘Not: Socrates has conversed with Aristotle’ or ‘It is not the case that Socrates has conversed with Aristotle’. The rephrasing sounds awkward, but can be very useful in clarifying the meaning of a sentence and therefore avoiding fallacies which turn on ambiguity. The use of logical analysis to diagnose and avoid fallacies and sophisms was an important function of dialectic for the Stoics, and we have abundant evidence of their ongoing interest in the sort of logical puzzles prized by the Megarians (for example DL 7.25). One such is known as the Nobody argument. In one version it goes like this (DL 7.82, cf. 7.187): If someone is here, he is not in Rhodes. But someone is here. there is not someone in Rhodes. The conclusion, that there is no one in Rhodes, is evidently false, Care about the handling of negation and about the use of the indefinite pronoun (which is used equivocally in this sophism) dissolves the paradox. The conditional (‘if’…‘then’) is a crucial logical relation. From a logical point of view, ‘if’ can mean a number of different things. We know of several ancient interpretations of ‘if’ (Sextus Outlines of Pyrrhonism 2.110– 12): One of these, attributed to Philo the Megarian, is equivalent to the material conditional and has a strictly truth-functional meaning: a conditional is sound if it does not have a true antecedent and a false consequent. Diodorus Cronus held that a sound conditional was one of which it neither was nor is possible that it should have a true antecedent and a false consequent. Knowing of these interpretations, the Stoics adopted a third instead: a conditional is sound when the opposite of the consequent conflicts with the antecedent. The Stoic interpretation certainly renders at least part of their logic non-truth-functional, and so from a modern formal viewpoint less powerful. But the applicability of the conditional to inferences about facts and relations in the world is enhanced by their interpretation. When we find an intelligible connection in nature, the Stoic conditional will express it adequately. ‘If you release a stone in mid air it falls’ is true, and expresses something important about a world which has an intelligible causal structure; it is properly expressed in a Stoic conditional because there is a clear conflict between the release of the stone and having it not fall. Compare a Philonian conditional: ‘if it is day, I am conversing’. This must be regarded as sound whenever it is day and I am conversing. But such a conditional tells us nothing of interest about facts and relations in the world. The Stoics used their logic not just to solve paradoxes, but as a tool for physics.<sup>15</sup> It is worth noting that when discussing astrological predictions Chrysippus was careful not to express the (allegedly) regular connections between astral and terrestrial events by means of the conditional (Cicero De Fato 12–15). It may be that it is not the case both that Fabius was born at the rising of the dog-star and that Fabius will not die at sea. But Chrysippus would not express this as ‘if Fabius is born at the rising of the dog-star he will not die at sea’ precisely because he was not convinced that there was a necessary causal linkage between being born at that time of year and dying on dry land; such a view would conflict with his attempt to develop a non-necessitarian determinism (see p. 239). Chrysippus preferred the negated conjunction; Philo, whose conditional was truth-functional, would have seen no difference between the two ways of expressing the matter.<sup>16</sup> We thus come back to the question of the use of logic within Stoicism. It prepares the philosopher for paradoxes and helps him to solve them; this is vital, since the persistence of paradoxes threatens the belief that the world is a well-ordered and rational whole. Stoic logic is also designed to be of use in discovering and expressing causal relations. The use of dialectic to explore all the arguments for and against a given position,<sup>17</sup> which was cautiously approved by Chrysippus, is essential to the establishment of a true and stable understanding of the world. Aristotle handled the basic question of how humans come to know the world around us in a number of different works. The Posterior Analytics has an important chapter (2.19) on the perceptual foundations of our knowledge of the world; the Metaphysics opens (1.1) with reflections on a similar theme; the theory of human perception which attempts in part to explain how this works is found in a treatise on natural philosophy, On the Soul. Similarly, the Stoics handled epistemological issues throughout their philosophy; the theory of how our sensory apparatus works is part of physics, but dialectic includes their account of the representational content of sense perception. If dialectic is to be used to discover the truth about an explicable and rationally ordered world, then clearly we humans must have access to reliable basic information about that world. Sense perception is the source of information, and in Stoicism we can see the nascent empiricism of Aristotle’s theory developed more fully.<sup>18</sup> The Stoics held that our senses, when in good condition and used under normal circumstances, tell us the truth about the world. The truths of sense perception form the basis of our knowledge of the world. If one could show in some way that sense perception cannot be relied on to tell us the truth about the world, then the entire edifice of our knowledge about the external world collapses. The building is only as solid as its foundations. Sceptics, in particular Academics like Arcesilaus and Carneades, aimed to undermine the claims of Stoicism in exactly this way. The target of their epistemological critique was the key theoretical item in Stoic epistemology, the presentation (phantasia). A presentation is an ‘impression’<sup>19</sup> in the physical stuff of the soul, a physical alteration caused by changes in the matter of the external world. Such an impression also carries information; it reveals both itself and the external event or thing which causes it (SVF 2. 54). The informational content of the presentation is conveyed, in rational animals, as non-corporeal ‘meanings’ or lekta. Just how this was accomplished is one of the more puzzling features of Stoic philosophy of mind. But the account preserved in Diogenes Laertius makes the basic point clear: ‘the presentation is first, and then the intellect, which is verbally expressive, puts into rational discourse what it experiences because of the presentation’ (DL 7.49. Cf. DL 7.63, Sextus M 8.70). The intelligible content of our perceptions is then either accepted by the perceiver or not. The assent given to the content of the presentation may be conscious or unconscious, and belief ensues when our mind accepts the presentation as representing the world. Hence the Stoics can readily account for the common experience of seeing but not believing. This alteration and its informational content can be stored as a memory; it also contributes to the process of shaping of our basic conceptions and beliefs about the world. Hence our concepts and untutored beliefs are only as secure as our presentations. When sceptics attacked the reliability of presentations as sources of information about the world, the Stoics had to respond. The debate which ensued is too complex for summary here,<sup>20</sup> but one or two general remarks should be made. First, the clear isolation of assent from other aspects of the process of perception and belief obviates some sceptical moves; the Stoics do not claim that humans are passive prisoners of their perceptual experience. It is up to us to judge among our presentations. So if (to use the hackneyed example which originates in this debate) the straight oar looks bent under water, we can deny assent to the perception; and we will do so since it conflicts with the information received from other perceptions or because we understand the refraction of light in different media. But this ability to choose which presentations to accept requires us to have some criterion to apply in doing so. Here the Stoics’ response to sceptical challenge is less successful. They claim that the criterion is a special kind of presentation, which they designated with a rather rebarbative label: cataleptic. A cataleptic presentation is stipulated to be one which exactly represents a part of the external world just as it is and has in addition a distinctive feature which indicates that it could not have been caused by any other source. It is allegedly self-validating. If, the Stoics say, we base our knowledge of the external world on such presentations, we will not err. The difficulty with this claim, however, is that a determined sceptical attack can easily reveal it as being either circular or arbitrary. In the end, the prolonged and complex debate between sceptics and Stoics about the criterion for reliability in sense perception reached no satisfactory resolution. The Stoic position ended where it began, with a commonsensical confidence in the veridical nature of sense perception, and the sceptical attack revealed that it is impossible to provide a foundational justification of what is itself meant to be a foundation for human understanding. 4 PHYSICS AND COSMOLOGY ‘Let us begin from Zeus.’ With these words the Stoic astronomical poet Aratus opened his Phaenomena, one of the most influential didactic poems in antiquity. As a Stoic, Aratus celebrates the omnipresent beneficence of Zeus and emphasizes that we humans are ‘of his race’. In Aratus’ view, the well-organized character of the natural world and the fine articulation of the heavenly constellations are the work of Zeus, father of gods and men; the entire cosmos was organized as a sign for humans of how best to live. Zeus was, of course, central in Greek religious thinking, and in particular for Hesiod, whose poetry had a profound impact on the early Stoics, not just on Cleanthes, the second head of the school (who was even moved to imitate him by writing his own epic verse in honour of Zeus.<sup>21</sup>) But the broader tradition of Greek philosophical cosmology also influenced the Stoics. Perhaps foremost they looked to Plato’s Timaeus, with its creator god and its thorough-going teleological account of the physical world. But the Presocratics were also important, none more than Heraclitus (at least as he was understood in the period after Aristotle), who emphasized the central role of fire in the physical explanation of the world and also looked to Zeus as an organizing symbol for his thought about the relation of man to the cosmos. The influence of Empedocles is also detectable. The selection of the four basic forms of matter recognized by the Stoics (earth, air, fire, water) might also be the result of Platonic or Aristotelian influence, and the idea of a cosmic cycle might also be influenced by Pythagoreanism or the myth of Plato’s Statesman. But Empedocles was also an important forerunner. As Epicureanism represented the current version of atomistic thinking about the nature of the universe, so Stoicism represented, in the Hellenistic period, the most widespread and up-to-date version of the traditional nonatomistic cosmology. The cosmos, as the Stoics saw it, is finite and spherical, with the earth at the centre. The four basic types of matter (earth, water, air, and fire)<sup>22</sup> are arranged in roughly concentric spheres around the centre of the cosmos, which coincides with the centre of the earth. For the Stoics, as also for Plato and Aristotle, the four basic types of matter are not unchangeable. Empedocles had worked with the assumption that they are elemental and not derivable from each other or from any simpler physical reality. Stoicism offered a theory about the nature and derivation of the four basic types of matter which resembles Aristotle’s theory more closely than it does Plato’s. Another point of difference from earlier cosmologies lies in the Stoic view about what is outside the cosmos. For Aristotle the answer was simple. Nothing is outside the cosmos just because the cosmos is the sum total of all physical reality. This view flew in the face of atomistic claims that our cosmos (like all the others) is surrounded by an infinite void. The Stoics accepted some of their arguments that there must be infinite void outside the cosmos. But it is open to question whether they interpreted ‘infinite’ in the same sense as the atomists did. Not having an infinity of material stuff or an infinity of worlds to find a place for, they did not need actual infinity of the sort that Aristotle argued against in his Physics. Perhaps, then, they understood ‘infinite’ in the older sense found in Anaximander: the void outside the cosmos was indefinitely large. Another reason for the Stoics to accept extra-cosmic void lies in their commitment to the theory that the cosmos has a beginning and an end in time. Like Epicurus and many Presocratics (but emphatically unlike Aristotle), the Stoics believed that the cosmos was created by the cosmogonic activity of Zeus and would one day end by being reabsorbed into the cosmic fire out of which it was born. And when it did end in the grand conflagration destined for it, it would expand in volume (as does anything when it is heated or burned). Evidently, the Stoics reasoned, if the cosmos will one day expand then there must be empty space for it to expand into. That, they held, was the extra-cosmic void. The life of each cosmos begins with the death in conflagration of its predecessor. In the form of fire, the entire raw material of the universe is in its most divine state and is identified with Zeus, the craftsman-god. The first cosmogonic act of Zeus/fire is the generation of the four elements: In the beginning, then, he was by himself and turned all substance into water via air; and just as the seed is contained in the seminal fluid, so this, being the spermatic principle of the cosmos, remains like this in the fluid and makes the matter easy for itself to work with in the generation of subsequent things. Then it produces first the four elements: fire, water, air, earth. (DL 7.136) Starting out as fire, Zeus produces four elements, one of which is fire. These four are then the stuff of which the world as we know it is generated. What is striking here is the dual role of fire, both as the fundamental cosmic principle which alone survives the cycle of destruction and re-creation, and as a created element. This double role for fire is reflected in the immanence of divine powers in the world. For the intelligent guiding power represented by Zeus/fire is omnipresent and ever-present in the world. As Zeno said, the entire cosmos and the heaven are the substance of god.<sup>23</sup> Hence Stoicism has often been seen as a forerunner of various later forms of pantheistic thinking. It is, in fact, crucial to Stoicism that the creative and shaping force active in the world should be immanent. For this power is a causal power, and the Stoics took as the foundation of the physical theory a carefully considered corporealism which rested on the argument (derived ultimately from Plato’s Sophist)<sup>24</sup> that the only realities are things which can act and be acted upon, and that these are bodies. So for the Stoics, anything which is going to have causal efficacy must be a body.<sup>25</sup> If god is going to control and govern events in the world, then he must be a body in the world. The presence and force of the divine in the physical world become manifest in several ways. We see it first in their account of the basic formation of the elements. The Stoics distinguished between elements (earth, air, fire, water) and principles. The principles are the ‘active’ and the ‘passive’. These principles are eternal and interact to create the elements, which perish at each conflagration. Moreover, the principles are formless, whereas elements take on definite characteristics. Most importantly, the principles are corporeal. Consequently the elements and the cosmos made up of them are a blend of the active and passive principles. When, therefore, they go on to identify the active principle with god and the passive principle with matter, they lay the foundations for a simple but elegant corporealism built on the foundations of Platonic and Aristotelian thought about the physical world. The power of god is everywhere in the active and explicable causal structures we see in the world at every level of analysis. In so far as any material object has shape and definite characteristics it has in it something comprehensible and therefore divine. Stoic corporealism attempts to answer some of the problems left unresolved by the Stoics’ predecessors. The explanatory gap between the intelligible and the physical was a crux for Plato, and in some sense he had to relegate physical objects to a lesser ontological status. Their relationship to the intelligible realities which alone could actually explain things was always doubtful. Aristotle’s mature hylomorphism bridged this gap to some extent, by recognizing that the individual object was an inextricable composite of form and matter, neither of which could exist separately from the other. Yet even in Aristotle problems remained, both in the area of psychophysical causation and in theology. For Aristotle’s god, the teleological cause of the order in the natural world, is remote from that world and of a different order of being. In the ancient world as in the modern, there has always been dissatisfaction with the notion that god only moves the world by being loved, that the first cause itself does nothing. For many, and certainly for the Stoics, that is not an adequate account of causation.<sup>26</sup> The suggestion that god could be identified with the active cause structuring each object and rendering it formally complete and intelligible, though it leaves problems about the relation between this principle, fire and pneuma (for which see below), brings divine teleology and causal explanation together in a novel and relatively satisfying way. At some point, probably with Chrysippus, the Stoic attempt to grapple with these problems was reconfigured so that less emphasis fell on the element fire and more on a physical stuff best thought of as being composed of fire and air.<sup>27</sup> Pneuma became, in mature Stoicism, the principal locus of divine immanence in the natural world. It was used to account for a wide range of phenomena, from the cohesion of the cosmos itself (always a problem for the Stoics, who did not rest content with Aristotle’s explanation in terms of natural motion) to the nature of the human soul.<sup>28</sup> In all of its manifestations the most useful characteristic of this kind of matter was its elasticity and tensile strength. Pneuma, then, was alleged to be omnipresent, and its tensional or vibratory motion gave objects of any magnitude their internal cohesion and basic physical properties.<sup>29</sup> The fact, then, that it penetrated the whole cosmos explains its cohesion. That it penetrates, for example, stones explains their solidity and density. Its presence in iron explains its hardness. Its presence in silver explains its shiny colour. It is but a slight extension of this idea to use the notion of pneuma as an organizing principle for the cosmos as such, using variations in its tensility to explain the basic categories of beings in the world. It is a quirk of our sources that Philo of Alexandria preserves some of the clearest descriptions of this hierarchical description of the natural world (see SVF 2.458), but the authenticity of the basic idea is confirmed by more conventional sources, such as Diogenes Laertius.<sup>30</sup> Pneuma is present in stones and other inert objects in the form of a basic disposition (hexis); at the next highest level of organization it is found in plants as nature (phusis). In animals pneuma appears as soul (psychê), and in rational animals it appears as reason (logos). As hexis it holds an object together and gives it unity and its basic physical characteristics. This is a function of pneuma, which is also found in plants, though in them pneuma also creates powers of growth, nutrition, and reproduction. Clearly the lower functions are subsumed in the higher, and this is continued all the way up this scala naturae. Because the higher powers subsumed the lower ones, all entities remained satisfactorily unified in Stoic physics. Interesting results begin to appear at the highest level of description, the cosmos itself. For since pneuma is the organizing power of Zeus in the world, it is not out of place to describe the world as a single entity unified by the same pneuma which explains the objects which form parts of the whole. If there is one pneuma, then the world is one object. Evidently it is alive—at least as much as plants are. So it is proper to describe the world as being or having a nature. Indeed, Stoics often identified the world and god with nature.<sup>31</sup> But it also lives as animals do. For how else could it produce and contain animals? So it has a soul and is a living animal—just as Plato held when he described a world soul in his Timaeus. But it is also rational, being governed by and identical with Zeus, evidently run according to a well-organized and providential plan, a plan of the sort so admired by Aratus. But if that is so, then the world is a rational animal, and an immortal one as well. Indeed, it is a god, the very Zeus whom Aratus hymned in his Phaenomena. But if on this cosmic level of description the world is a single thing, then everything else, no matter how unified it might be on its own, is but a part of the whole. And yet human beings have the same rationality as Zeus. Are we not, then, as Seneca said with typical terseness (Letters on Ethics 92. 30), his allies as well as his parts? It follows, at least for a Stoic, that in looking at the place of human beings in the world as described by Stoic physics one must always use bifocal spectacles, considering human beings under both descriptions, both as separate entities and as parts of a larger and more fully rational whole. The cosmos which is organized by Zeus runs on strictly causal principles. That is only natural, since the basic manifestation of Zeus’ power in the world is through the causal power operating in every thing. To be caused by an organized and structured power like Zeus is to be explicable; the Stoic cosmos, then, is in principle fully determined. There is, in the Stoic view, a cause for every event in the history of the cosmos, without exception. Any other state of affairs would jeopardize its rational comprehensibility. At least from the time of Chrysippus, and possibly from the foundation of the school,<sup>32</sup> Stoics held that fate consisted in the causal determination of each and every event in the history of the cosmos. Nothing corporeal could escape the nexus of cause and effect, and nothing incorporeal can have effects or be caused. Stoic determinism is grounded in their logic as well as their physics. Diodorus Cronus had forced the issue with his Master Argument.<sup>33</sup> Chrysippus, whose strong support of the principle of bivalence even for future-tense propositions<sup>34</sup> already committed him to a form of determinism which we would regard as merely logical, evidently had to find a compromise between fate and moral responsibility as we normally understand it. The solution he came to is a compromise, perhaps one that neither determinists nor libertarians would welcome.<sup>35</sup> Human actions, for which we are normally held to be responsible, are explained in terms of their causes, which are twofold. There is an external stimulus to act (a presentation) and an internal state of character or moral temperament. Actions occur when the conjunction of these two factors causes an assent, which is in turn the cause of the action. Thus no human action is uncaused and determinism is preserved; but the causal chain necessarily runs through the character of and events in the soul of the agent, so that there is a reasonable basis for holding the agent responsible for his or her actions. Chrysippus attempted to argue that this kind of causation did not necessitate human action (Cicero De Fato 41–3), and in so doing made use of a complex theory of different kinds of causes; but in the end the important point is that human action is fully determined by the nexus of cause and effect and that nevertheless it is perfectly reasonable to hold agents responsible for their behaviour. The Stoics aimed to avoid the kind of fresh starts and breaks in causal sequence associated with Epicurean and Aristotelian theory, and to defend the meaningfulness of our habits of praise and blame. To judge the success or failure of this endeavour requires of the modern reader a clear sense of his or her own philosophical position. 5 ETHICS AND THE FRUITS OF PHILOSOPHY Logic is the wall around the garden; physics is the soil and the trees; ethics is the fruit growing on those trees. Ethics is the part of philosophy which justifies its claim to be an ars vivendi, a craft concerned with how to live. In ancient thought, a craft is characterized by at least three features: it will be based on a body of knowledge; it will consist in a stable disposition of the craftsman; and it will have a function and goal. Ethics is based fundamentally on a knowledge of the nature of the cosmos and man’s place in it and, more particularly, of the value of things. The disposition of the agent is his or her character, ideally virtue. And the goal of the art of living is ‘happiness’, eudaimonia.<sup>36</sup> Most ancient ethical theories work from the assumption, best articulated by Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics 1095a14–20; note the striking anticipation by Plato, Symposium 205a), that everyone agrees that eudaimonia is the goal of life, the major dispute being about what happiness consists in. Some might say that it consists in a life of physical pleasures, others in a life of political power or social prominence; others might think that complete happiness lies in a life characterized by an abundance of intellectual endeavour and achievement, or in a life of selfless devotion to the welfare of others. In each case, the conception of happiness adopted would affect one’s whole life, serving as a reference point for actions and decisions. Zeno’s characterization of this goal of life was simple. ‘Zeno first, in his book On the nature of man, said that the goal was to live in agreement with nature, which is to live according to virtue’ (DL 7.87). Another source gives us a more nuanced picture of development and clarification in the school: Zeno defined the goal thus: to live in agreement, i.e., to live according to one harmonious logos, since those who live inconsistently are unhappy. His followers refined the definition and proposed the following: to live in accordance with nature, supposing that Zeno’s formulation was a deficient predicate.<sup>37</sup> (Stobaeus Eclogae 2.75.11–2.76.3) Our source goes on to credit Cleanthes with the refinement and to report at length on the different formulations of the goal given by later Stoics from Chrysippus (‘to live in accordance with experience of what happens by nature’) to Antipater. The significance of the differing formulations lies partially in Stoics’ attempts to defend their view against Academic criticism. The main point throughout the school’s development is clear, though. The goal, the basic reference point for human life, is nature.<sup>38</sup> And nature clearly guides us to virtue as the exclusive<sup>39</sup> source of the happiness which constitutes the fulfilment of human life. Nature guides human beings to virtue by processes immanent in us; as Cleanthes said, every human has a natural inclination to virtue (Stobaeus Eclogae 2.65.8), and the very conception of good is in some way natural to us (DL 7.53). As soon as we are born (and the Stoics held that we are born in an uncorrupted state) it becomes apparent that we (like all other animals) are committed to the preservation and enhancement of our own selves. This basic commitment is a feature of nature as such, and it is even shared with plants (whose distinctive level of organization is, as we have seen, described as ‘nature’). A summary account attempts to show how this fundamental attachment to oneself and one’s own nature is related to the claim that virtue is natural to us. They say that an animal’s first impulse is to preserve itself, because nature made it committed to itself from the beginning, as Chrysippus says in book one of On Goals, stating that for every animal its first commitment is to its own constitution and the reflective awareness of this. For it is not reasonable that nature would make an animal alienated from itself, nor having made the animal, to make it neither committed to nor alienated from itself. Therefore, the remaining possibility is to say that having constituted the animal she made it committed to itself. For in this way it repels injurious influences and pursues that which is proper to it. The Stoics claim that what some people say is false, viz. that the first impulse of animals is to pleasure.<sup>40</sup> For they say that pleasure is, if anything, a by-product which supervenes when nature itself, on its own, seeks out and acquires what is suitable to the animal’s constitution. It is like the condition of thriving animals and plants in top condition. And nature, they say, did not operate differently in the cases of plants and of animals; for it directs the life of plants too, though without impulse and sense-perception, and even in us some processes are plant-like. When, in the case of animals, impulse is added (which they use in the pursuit of things to which they have an affinity), then for them what is natural is governed by what is according to impulse. When reason has been given to rational animals as a more perfect governor, then for them the life according to reason properly becomes what is natural for them. For reason supervenes on impulse as a craftsman. (DL 7.85–6) The Stoic commitment to nature emerges here very clearly. It is not just human nature, for (like the Cynics and Epicureans) the Stoics use animals to illustrate the patterns of desire and satisfaction which define the inevitable and undeniable foundation of human excellence and happiness, and in doing so they reveal both the universal immanence and the overall teleology which are key features of their physics. A greater challenge for the Stoics, though, lies in explaining how human beings progress from their initial and apparently animal-like state of concern with self-preservation to a mature and rationally articulated commitment to a rational life as such. To judge from a later Stoic account, in Letter 121 of Seneca, the answer must be that as humans mature our constitution develops, so that our commitment to our constitution develops along with it. When our nature becomes fully rational at the age of fourteen, our commitment develops into a desire to preserve and enhance that rationality. Hence the Socratic commitment (see Plato Crito 46b, 480 and Gorgias passim) to do whatever is dictated by the best argument is grounded by the Stoics in a welldeveloped theory of human character development. To consider the extreme case: should it turn out that the argument dictates that our own life be sacrificed in the name of rationality, then the commitment to our rational nature will override our commitment to self-preservation. Hence Socrates calmly allowed himself to be executed and the Stoics consistently maintained that a well-thought-out suicide was a reasonable option in extreme circumstances. It follows for the Stoics that one of the principal jobs of ethics, as a branch of philosophy, is the working out of what reason dictates. The principal reference point for doing so was the Socratic tradition in ethics, especially the version of it that we know through Plato’s ‘Socratic’ dialogues. Perhaps the first Socratic passage to reflect on is Meno 77–8, which appears to establish that the good (in the sense of what one believes to be beneficial to oneself) motivates every agent. ‘Benefit’ becomes crucial in establishing the difference between what is good, what is bad, and what is indifferent (i.e., neither good nor bad), both for Socrates (Meno 87–9, Gorgias 467–8, Euthydemus 278–82, cf. Xenophon Memorabilia 4.6.8) and for the Stoics (DL 7.102–3). The apparent good (as Aristotle termed it) always motivates a rational agent, but obviously if one is wrong about what is beneficial then one will also act incorrectly. On Socratic and Stoic principles, a genuine good is what invariably gives the agent true and lasting benefit. However, few of the goods as conventionally understood provide this: wealth, social standing, even bodily health can all lead to unpleasant results in some circumstances. This was common ground among the Stoics, as even the debate between Aristo of Chios and more conventional Stoics shows (M 11.64–7).<sup>41</sup> In fact, it is argued, there really is nothing except virtue (and, of course, things which participate in virtue) which can be relied on to produce real benefit in every circumstance. Other things are all indifferent to the achievement of happiness, the goal of life. But such things are not for that reason absolutely indifferent, as are things like the exact number of hairs on one’s head. For some things obviously make a positive contribution to the kind of life for which we humans have been designed by nature, while others actively hinder such a life. The former, then, are termed ‘preferred’ and the latter ‘dispreferred’ (a typical instance of Stoic neologism): health and prosperity and reputation are preferred because they make a real contribution to a normal human life, while disease and poverty and social disapproval are the opposite (see DL 7.103–5). Nevertheless, the Socratic argument which lies at the heart of Stoic ethics urged that such things, considered on their own, could not make a person happy, that all that mattered is how one uses them. Even disease and death can be handled by a virtuous person in such a way that good will come of it. The key, of course, is virtue. With it, happiness is assured, and without it one is bound to fall short. The Stoics also followed Socrates in accepting some version of the Socratic thesis of the unity of the virtues, best known from the Protagoras. Yet they also adopted the Platonic schematization of the virtues into a canonical set of four distinct virtues (prudence or practical intelligence, courage, justice, temperance or self-control (DL 7.92)), with the others organized as subtypes of these. There was debate within the school over the relationship between these individual virtues and their foundation (which is a form of practical and critical intelligence, properly oriented towards the fulfilment of human nature as part of a larger and rational cosmos). Aristo is identified with the view that there really is in the human soul only one condition which constitutes virtue, though it is called by different names as it is applied in different circumstances and in the face of different challenges and various human weaknesses. When applied to threatening situations, it is courage, but if we are tempted by pleasures, we call it self- control, and so forth. Chrysippus, on the other hand, held that each virtue represented a genuinely distinct feature of the state of our souls, but that these distinct virtues are inseparable in fact so that the presence in the soul of one entails the presence of all. As far as we can tell, Zeno’s view seems to have been somewhere between these two extremes. But all Stoics seem at least to have held that the virtues are inseparable and that they are based on knowledge of what is good, what is bad, and what is indifferent, a knowledge which is a fully habituated state of the agent’s soul. Virtue, then, depends in large measure on knowing the value of things. The awareness that things like health are preferable but not good (in the relevant technical sense—for Chrysippus sensibly allowed the normal and looser meaning of ‘good’ as well) will affect the way an agent acts (see Plutarch Stoic Self-contradictions 1035cd and 1048a) For the Stoics (again, starting with Zeno) distinguished clearly between actions which are appropriate and reasonable for humans to do and those which are also virtuous. Appropriate actions (kathêkonta) are defined as those which ‘when done admit of a reasonable justification’ (LS 59B) (and the reasonableness can be relativized to the nature of the agent). Thus animals, too, can carry out appropriate ‘actions’. In contrast, actions which are appropriate and in addition flow from the virtuous disposition of an agent are described as ‘right actions’ (katorthômata). The distinction between appropriate and right actions is crucial for an understanding of how Stoic theories about the value of things and the goal of life were meant to be put into practice. Appropriate actions are described at two levels of generality. Sometimes our sources describe general types of action as being appropriate for humans, such as taking care of one’s health, earning a living, attending to one’s family, engaging in political activity; the opposites of such actions are stigmatized as inappropriate; other types of action are classed as neither appropriate nor inappropriate, such as holding a pen or picking up a stick. Yet in concrete circumstances any of these actions can in fact become the appropriate thing to do. Stoic interest naturally centred on actions which in general are inappropriate or irrational (such as maiming oneself) but on some occasion, as a result of peculiar circumstances, turn out to be the reasonable thing to do; they are labelled ‘appropriate in the circumstances’. The justification which lies behind the general prescriptions for appropriate actions is often easy to intuit; what is less clear from our sources (except late ones, like Cicero’s De Officiis and Seneca’s De Beneficiis) is the kind of moral reasoning which the Stoics recommended as a way of determining the best and most justifiable action in a given circumstance. Yet it is clear that the Stoics did regard this as a matter of reasoning, for one standard characterization of appropriate actions is ‘what reason constrains us to do’ (DL 7.108)—interestingly, this is exactly the phrase used by Plato’s Socrates to describe his own commitment to reasoning out the best thing to do in a given circumstance. Reasoning about what to do and what not to do is extraordinarily difficult for humans, in view of our relative ignorance and fallibility, especially about the future. (Overcoming this, to the best of our abilities, is one of the main applications of logic and physics.) Another later Stoic, Epictetus (who worked in the late first century AD), preserves Chrysippus’ reflections on the problem: as long as it is unclear to me what comes next, I always cling to what is naturally more suited for getting what accords with nature; for god himself made me prone to choose things. But if I really did know that it is now fated for me to be sick, then I would even pursue that. (Epictetus Discourses 2.6.9–10) Even illness, then, and death can be the objects of rational choice, if one has a clear enough view about the plan worked out for oneself by the providential order of the world; but normally one does not, so that normal prudence guides the vast majority of our actions. Only when it is clear that fate is drawing us on to some definite outcome do we abandon that endeavour and follow fate, knowing of course that it is all for the best in the larger cosmic pattern. But appropriate actions are only the foundation of morality. No action, however reasonable and well justified, is right unless it is done from a virtuous disposition. This, of course, is the principal difference between appropriate and right actions, and in considering right actions it is crucial to recall that they are defined as a subset of appropriate actions: they are ‘perfect’ or ‘complete’ appropriate actions. Even the genuinely virtuous person, who is wise and perhaps as rare as the mythical phoenix, needs to figure out the appropriate thing to do, and there is no reason to believe that this process is any different for the person of virtue than it is for the ordinary person making moral progress.<sup>42</sup> It is difficult to determine in detail how the possession of virtue changes each action. Our sources seem to emphasize the completeness of a right action (it covers all the ‘aspects’) and the firmness of the moral disposition which produces the action (Ecl. 5. 906.18–5.907.5=LS 59 I). The nature of the motivation (knowing that what is done is done for its own sake) may also have been important. The crucial points, though, are that only a completely virtuous person can perform a right action, and that only the wise man has virtue. The rest of mankind are, strictly speaking, fools and full of vice. Much of Stoic ethical writing, then, focused on fools—Panaetius, in the second century BC, made a point of emphasizing this aspect of Stoic ethics (see Seneca Letter 116.5), but he was certainly not alone in this. In all periods of the school’s long history Stoics wrote about appropriate actions at least as much as they did about virtue and the sage. Their appeal lay not just in the clear and uncompromising conception of virtue and right action; it lay also in the emphasis they placed on moral progress and the writings they devoted to promoting it. Perhaps the most important aspect of their campaign to promote virtue is their focus on the passions. For here, though it is clear that their theory of the passions (such as pleasure, pain, fear, and desire) was based on their rigorous conception of the good and virtue, the recommendations they made for fighting against such passions were calculated to work even for those who had not and would not attain wisdom and complete virtue. The Stoics’ theory of passions is based on their analysis of the human soul; the key position is one on which they disagreed with both Plato and Aristotle, though they no doubt thought they were in the spirit of Socratic intellectualism: they rejected any fundamental difference between cognitive and affective parts or functions of the soul, maintaining that every function of the soul has both a cognitive and an affective aspect and that the cognitive aspect is the causally important one. Within this framework, they defined a passion as an irrational and excessive movement in the soul.<sup>43</sup> It is treated as a cognitively determined event in the soul—either identical with or the inescapable result of an assent to a seriously incorrect proposition about the value of things. It is when one judges that (for example) the death of one’s sister is bad (and not just dispreferred) or that wealth is good (and not just preferred) that one falls into the kind of overreaction which constitutes a passion—in these cases grief and desire. Ideally all such mistakes would be avoided; that would lead to freedom from passion or apatheia—a mental condition far from that connoted by our word ‘apathy’. The Stoic view seems to be that confusion about the kind of value things have lies at the heart of our tendency to unhealthy emotional reactions. These reactions are wrong not because they engender subjectively unpleasant feelings (in fact, some of them are quite enjoyable—pleasure is an irrational ‘uplift’ in the soul), but because they invariably produce inconsistency and vacillation, cloud our judgement, over-commit us to certain short-term courses of action and feeling, and block our normal rational concern with longer-term planning. Passions are also wrong because they routinely put us into conflict with the naturally and providentially ordained course of events—this is one of the senses of irrationality captured in the definition—and deprive us of the adaptability which any rational agent must have to survive and prosper in a determined but unpredictable world. The ideal state of mind, then, is not the absolutely unfeeling condition suggested by our term ‘stoical’, but an affective life characterized by stable and healthy emotional reactions to events. But how does one get to this condition? What is the cure for passions? Obviously, to get straight about values, to learn the difference between what is really good or bad and what is merely preferred or dispreferred. For Stoics, who did not think that there was a distinct emotive part of the soul, this ought, in principle, to be the proper cure, and this was apparently promoted by Cleanthes as the only cure for such mental confusion. But although this accords well with the school’s intellectualist philosophy of mind, its impracticality will be immediately obvious to anyone actually counselling a friend in the grip of a strong passion. The practicality of the school’s approach to ethics is confirmed by Chrysippus’ improvement on this (Cicero Tusculan Disputations 3.76): he thought that the starting point would have to be to convince the patient (for the Stoics made extensive use of the medical metaphor in discussing passions) that it was not reasonable or right to overreact to one’s feelings, and to leave until later the fundamental issue of the nature of good, bad, and indifferent. 6 CONCLUSION The guiding ideas of Stoicism throughout its history are nature and reason. Though much changed in the school over its history (Stoicism avoided the static character of Epicureanism as well as the extraordinary variability seen in the Platonic tradition), the centrality of these notions never varied. Nature, whether on a large or a small scale, is rational and reasonable, and so at heart is every human being. Hence, they thought, we fit into nature not as merely physical objects, but as rational animals. Perhaps they saw themselves as having found the ideal middle ground between two tempting positions: the notion that man’s rationality puts him fundamentally at odds with the physical world; and the idea, represented by other materialists in the ancient world, that we are our physical selves and nothing more. The bold claim made by the Stoics was that the natural and the rational are in the final analysis identical, and that human beings can only find themselves by looking to nature, to the orderly, purposive, and explicable whole of which they are privileged parts. 7 DEVELOPMENT IN THE SCHOOL In this discussion I have treated Stoicism as a single whole, with considerable emphasis on the early stages which determined its basic character. There were, of course, significant developments over its nearly 500–year history. But I believe, although this is a controversial claim, that the differences and developments which one can detect and document are on matters of detail. Here and there we find doubts about the literal truth of the idea of conflagration or cosmic recurrence, strong Platonic sympathies in psychology, or Aristotelian leanings in natural philosophy (these last two items associated with Posidonius, perhaps the most innovative of later Stoics). Certainly each Stoic writer was a unique individual, so that there are real differences of outlook among a ‘professional’ philosopher like Chrysippus, a court adviser like Seneca, an ex-slave like Epictetus, and a Roman emperor like Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. But because the central ideas of the school were shared by all (and because Stoicism never asked that its adherents follow blindly a canonical version of its tenets), an account of the divergences and developments in the school’s history would require a degree of detail incompatible with the limits of a chapter like this one. On these matters, as on many others, the interested reader will have to find his or her own way with the assistance of some supplementary reading (listed in the bibliography). ABBREVIATIONS Sources frequently quoted are abbreviated as follows: DL Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers [7.6] Ecl. John Stobaeus, Eclogae [7.7] FDS Hulser, K., Die Fragmente zur Dialektik der Stoiker [7.1] LS Long, A.A. and Sedley, D.N., The Hellenistic Philosophers [6.3] SVF Arnim, H.von, Stoicorum veterum fragmenta [7.2] NOTES 1 I would like to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for a subvention which contributed to the writing of this chapter. 2 Themistius (FDS 101) points to the Apology of Socrates (presumably Plato’s) as influential; but we have no idea what evidence he relied on. 3 It would be interesting to know which part of book 2 was supposed to have had this effect on young Zeno. Perhaps it was the allegory of Heracles and virtue in 2.1.21 ff. 4 There is considerable controversy about how much influence Aristotelian ideas had on Zeno and other early Stoics. If—and this is to my mind an open question—we can believe the stories about the disappearance of Aristotle’s library when Theophrastus died, then any influence of the Peripatos on Stoicism was most likely to have occurred in the 25 years during which Zeno was at Athens and Theophrastus led the Peripatos. While Theophrastus lived, the library was surely available to those who were interested; and if Zeno never formally studied with him, his younger contemporary, the Academic Arcesilaus, certainly did, and his critical attacks certainly shaped Stoic thinking on a number of issues. I suspect, however, that Aristotelian books and ideas were pretty generally available to serious philosophers in Athens throughout the Hellenistic period, and that their influence was a significant factor in the development of Stoic thinking. See, however, F.H.Sandbach [7. 20]. 5 The comparison of philosophy to a ‘city, beautifully fortified and administered according to reason’ does not tell us much about the partitioning of philosophy. 6 There is an excellent discussion of Stoic dialectic by A.A.Long, ‘Dialectic and the Stoic sage’ in Rist [7.17]. 7 Or rather, at least two. Some Stoics also included as distinct branches of logic the study of definitions and a form of epistemology. See DL 7.41. 8 The best general discussion of Stoic rhetoric and its relation to dialectic is by Catherine Atherton, ‘Hand over fist: the failure of Stoic rhetoric’, Classical Quarterly 38 (1988), 392–427. 9 It is hard to be sure how much of this material would be treated under dialectic and how much under physics. But it is clear that dialectic was meant to include at least partial coverage of these themes. 10 Our traditional grammatical categories for the parts of speech are obviously related to these, but there are differences. Note, for example, the absence of ‘adverb’ in this classification. The Stoics built on earlier and cruder analyses; professional grammarians, in Greek and Latin (and then in vernacular languages during the Renaissance and after) expanded and refined the theory. One feature of interest is the Stoic distinction between name and common noun: in DL 7.58 the difference is expressed in metaphysical rather than grammatical terms (names indicate individual quality and common nouns indicate common quality), despite the fact that the parts of speech are discussed under the heading of ‘utterance’. 11 The best discussion of these issues is by Michael Frede, ‘The principles of Stoic grammar’ in Rist [7.17]. 12 One other feature of this creative period is the debate over ‘analogy’ and ‘anomaly’ in the analysis of the workings of language. This is too large a topic to develop here, but it clearly turned in part on the Stoics’ views about etymology and word derivation. Here again one might best treat this as a moment in the history of linguistics, but for the Stoics the questions were essentially philosophical ones: nothing which dealt with logos and its relation to reality could be treated as anything but philosophical. 13 DL 7.40, Sextus M 7.19. Sextus gives a reason for this order further on in the passage. In M 7.23 he notes that physics comes last because it is more ‘divine’ and intellectually demanding. In DL the Posidonian view is not attributed to him by name, and reverses the positions of physics and ethics, making physics the analogue of the soul. This is either a confusion in DL or further evidence of the variety of positions taken on this question. 14 In Rist [7.17]. This is a splendid overview of Stoic logic, from the perspective of formal logic. See also Mates [7.16]. 15 Their views on determinism are worked out in part through reaction to Diodorus Cronus’ so-called Master Argument, which is closely linked to his own understanding of the conditional. 16 One might also note the use of the negated conjunction in formulating sôritês arguments (DL 7.82). 17 See Plutarch Stoic Self-contradictions chs 8–9, DL 7.182–4. 18 Epicureanism also moved sharply in the direction of well formulated empiricism at about the same time. The philosophical climate obviously inclined in this direction, and this was not just a result of Aristotle’s influence. But it is precisely in epistemology and philosophical psychology that our sources present Stoic ideas in a form most closely related to Aristotle’s. 19 Either literally an impression or figuratively. Chrysippus held that by impression Zeno meant ‘alteration’; see DL 7.50; M 7.227–31, 7.372–73. This improved the theory and protected it from some criticisms. But the main thrust of Academic attack is not diverted by this clarification. 20 Basic evidence and clear philosophical discussion can be found in LS [7.3] 39– 41. 21 The Hymn to Zeus is extant (see LS [7.3] 541), and there are short quotations from other poems. 22 The Stoics distinguished two types of fire: terrestrial fire, which was destructive, and ‘craftsmanlike fire’ which played a creative role in cosmogony. The latter was identified with the fire of the heavenly bodies and the animal heat which sustains life. They did not, therefore, follow Aristotle in postulating a fifth kind of element for the heavenly bodies. Another difference between Aristotle and the Stoics is that Aristotle described his elements in terms of two of the basic qualities (hot, cold, wet, dry) and an underlying substrate while the Stoics only posited one basic quality for each element. 23 DL 7.148. This is the orthodox view; note that Boethus, a later Stoic, wanted to restrict god’s substance to the sphere of the fixed stars. 24 See Long and Sedley [7.3], commentary on §45. For discussion of the nature and philosophical motivation of Stoic corporealism, see LS §§27–30, and J. Brunschwig in [7.10] 19–127. 25 The exceptions to this corporealism are few: void, place, time, and lekta. Souls, however, are bodily (though made of a very different stuff from the body). Certain problems are created by this doctrine for Stoic philosophy of mind, since intelligible contents (for example lekta) are incorporeal; yet to hold that the content of our thoughts has no causal influence on the actions of our bodies is most strange. The Stoics had no trouble with the notion that souls influenced bodies; but how, one must ask them, can thought contents be related to the physical events in our souls? Limitations of space preclude a discussion of the important Stoic analyses of time and of spatial concepts. 26 It is in the Hellenistic period, and in particular in Stoicism, that the notion of cause began to narrow towards the idea of active causation which we most often use. See M.Frede, ‘The Original Notion of Cause’ in [7.22], 217–49. 27 Air and fire are described as the sustaining elements, being the locus of the cold and the hot; pneuma is made up of them. 28 It has been suspected that the Stoic emphasis on pneuma had its roots in Aristotle’s later work on animal psychology. The De motu animalium gives pneuma a prominent role in bridging the gap between soul and body in explanations of animal action. It also had a special role in explanations of reproduction. The Stoics also share with Aristotle (against Plato) the view that the central and cognitive functions of the soul are carried out in the heart. But it is worth noting that pneuma was generally important in Hellenistic biology, and that the Stoic development of a corporeal account of the perceptual and motor systems, based on pneuma and with the heart at the centre of activity, parallels the empirical results generated by contemporary medical scientists in Alexandria, at least some of whom practised dissection. The medical discovery of the arterial system seems to have been particularly important for supporters of the heart-centred model of soul. 29 One interesting problem which bulks surprisingly large in our sources for Stoicism arises from this theory. If pneuma is a physical stuff and what it organizes is a physical stuff, then how are we to describe the mixture of them? The Stoics described the mixture as ‘complete’ (di’ holou) and they compared it to the mixture between fire and iron in a piece of red-hot iron. 30 More evidence is gathered and discussed in chapter 2 of my Ethics and Human Action in Early Stoicism [7.14]. 31 The standard Stoic definition of nature was: ‘a craftsmanlike fire proceeding methodically to generation’ (DL 7.156). 32 Long and Sedley ([7.3] 1, 392) argue that neither Zeno nor Cleanthes adopted the all-inclusive causal understanding of fate which Chrysippus embraced and hence that they did not share his need to reconcile fate with moral responsibility. 33 He seems to have argued that the following three propositions are incompatible: (1) everything past and true is necessary; (2) something impossible does not follow from something possible; (3) there is something possible which neither is nor will be true. Diodorus himself rejected (3) and so supported his own definition of the possible as ‘what either is or will be true’; Cleanthes rejected (1); Chrysippus, somewhat implausibly, denied (2). See Long and Sedley [7.3] §38. 34 Contrary to the view taken by Aristotle, De Interpretatione 19. 35 The literature on this problem is enormous. See, for example, Charlotte Stough, ‘Stoic determinism and moral responsibility’, ch. 9 in Rist [7.18]; A.A.Long, ‘Freedom and determinism in the Stoic theory of human action’, ch. 8 in his Problems in Stoicism; and various chapters of Richard Sorabji’s Necessity, Cause, and Blame [1.80]. In the ancient world, the Aristotelian commentator Alexander of Aphrodisias gives the most effective and sustained argument against the Stoic view in his De Fato. 36 ‘Happiness’ is a notoriously unsatisfactory translation for the Greek term, but I will retain the traditional term for the sake of simplicity and familiarity. It should be understood throughout as a term of art. 37 This phrase is a technical term in the analysis of lekta, indicating that the verbal expression was elliptical and needed to be completed by a noun in an oblique case, viz. ‘with nature’. 38 As to the sense of nature being invoked, Chrysippus held that the ‘nature, in consistency with which we must live [is]…both the common and, specifically, the human nature. Cleanthes includes only the common nature, with which one must be consistent, and not the individual’ (DL 7.89). Why Cleanthes took this view is not clear. But since humans are parts of universal nature, the difference between the two heads of the school was probably only one of emphasis. 39 Notoriously, the Stoics held that virtue is not just necessary but also sufficient for happiness. Peripatetics argued against this position, as did the Academic Antiochus of Ascalon. But it remained official school doctrine until the end. 40 This is a criticism of the Epicurean argument in favour of hedonism. For discussion of these arguments, see J.Brunschwig, ‘The cradle argument in Epicureanism and Stoicism’, ch. 5 in [6.7]. 41 Aristo argued that there could be no meaningful distinction among things, except that between virtue and vice. Mainstream Stoics disagreed. The debate is an important one, but here I limit myself to a presentation of the mainstream Stoic doctrine. 42 See G.B.Kerferd, ‘What does the wise man know?’, in Rist [7.18]. 43 Much of this discussion is based on ch. 5 of my Ethics and Human Action in Early Stoicism [7.14]. BIBLIOGRAPHY MAJOR COLLECTIONS OF SOURCE MATERIAL 7.1 Hülser, K., Die Fragmente zur Dialektik der Stoiker, Stuttgart, Frommann- Holzboog, 1987. 7.2 Arnim, H.von, Stoicorum veterum fragmenta, Stuttgart, Teubner, 1905. 7.3 [=6.3] Long, A.A. and Sedley, D.N., The Hellenistic Philosophers, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1987. The philosophical commentary is indispensable. 7.4 [=6.4] Inwood, B. and Gerson, L.P., Hellenistic Philosophy, Indianapolis, Hackett, 2nd edn, 1997, contains primary sources in literal translation, quoted in this chapter with the publisher’s permission. 7.5 Giannantoni, G., Socraticorum reliquiae, Naples, Bibliopolis, 1983, contains evidence for fourth-century minor Socratics. SOURCE MATERIAL IN ANCIENT AUTHORS 7.6 [=6.1] Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers, ed. R.D.Hicks, revised, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1972. 7.7 John Stobaeus, Eclogae, ed. Wachsmuth and Hense, Berlin, Weidmann, 1884. 7.8 Panaetii Rhodii Fragmenta, ed M.van Straaten, 3rd edn, Leiden, Brill, 1962. 7.9 Posidonius, Fragments, ed. L.Edelstein and I.G.Kidd, with translation and commentary, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1988. [For Cicero, Seneca, Epictetus, Plutarch, Sextus Empiricus, and Marcus Aurelius, see Loeb Classical Library or other editions.] SECONDARY READING [The following works are fundamental and readily accessible. A more detailed advanced bibliography can be found in vol. 2 of LS.] 7.10 [=6.8] Barnes, J. and Mignucci, M., eds, Matter and Metaphysics, Naples, Bibliopolis, 1988. 7.11 Epp, R., ed., Recovering the Stoics=Southern Journal of Philosophy 23 Suppl. 1985. 7.12 [=6.12] Flashar, H., Gigon, O., and Kidd, I.G., Aspects de la philosophie Hellénistique, Geneva, Fondation Hardt, 1986. 7.13 Hahm, D., The Origins of Stoic Cosmology, Columbus, Ohio State University Press, 1977. 7.14 Inwood, B., Ethics and Human Action in Early Stoicism, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1985. 7.15 [=6.21] Long, A.A., Hellenistic Philosophy, 2nd edn, London/Berkeley/Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1986. 7.16 Mates, B., Stoic Logic, 2nd edn, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1961. 7.17 Rist, J.M., ed., The Stoics, London/Berkeley/Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1978. 7.18 Rist, J.M., Stoic Philosophy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1969. 7.19 Sandbach, F.H., The Stoics, London, Chatto and Windus, 1975. 7.20 Sandbach, F.H., Aristotle and the Stoics, Cambridge Philological Society Suppl. Vol. 10, 1985. 7.21 [=6.7] Schofield, M. and Striker, G., eds, The Norms of Nature, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1986. 7.22 [=6.5] Schofield, M., Burnyeat, M., and Barnes, J., eds, Doubt and Dogmatism, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1980. 7.23 [=6.23] Sharples, R.W., Stoics, Epicureans and Sceptics: an Introduction to Hellenistic Philosophy, London and New York, Routledge, 1996.
Routledge History of Philosophy. Taylor & Francis e-Library. 2005.
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