This paper deals with the Stoic concept of misprinted representation (φαντασία παρατυπωτική), which has received little attention compared to other concepts of Stoic epistemology and philosophy of mind. I aim at showing that a better understanding of this concept is important for grasping some elements of the Stoic account of mental representations that have been ignored or misunderstood in modern Stoic scholarship. First, by clarifying the status of the misprinted representation as a genuine representation, we can understand what it means (...) (and does not mean) to say, from the Stoic point of view, that the intentional object of a representation is the external object that caused it. Second, by understanding this issue, we obtain some resources to deal with the ambiguity of the preposition ἀπό in the definition of cognitive representation. Thus, the concept of misprinted representation proves to be important for appropriately understanding the Stoic concepts of representation and cognitive representation. (shrink)
In the 89th letter to Lucilius Seneca divides philosophy into three parts, namely ethics, physics, and logic. As philosophy in general he also divides its ethical parts into three parts: the first one has to do with value judgments, the second with impulses, and the third with actions. But instead of characterizing each of these parts and giving an overview of their contents he rather describes an ideal action: first, one makes a correct value judgment, then, one initiates a regulated (...) and ordered impulse, and finally, one brings this impulse into harmony with one’s external action by paying attention to the circumstances under which one intends to act. If each of these action moments has the mentioned character, one is consistent with oneself—an important step towards reaching full self-consistency, i.e., virtue. If those moments do not have the mentioned character, as for example in a passion, one cannot be consistent with oneself. As a result, one diverges from the goal of full self-consistency and thus from virtue. The thesis of my book takes up the parallel Seneca is drawing between ethics and its parts on the one hand and an action and its moments on the other hand. I argue that his ethics is based on an action theory that has as its main moments a judgment, an impulse and an external action. Within this theoretical framework, Seneca gives an answer to the question of what one should do in order to reach full self-consistency, i.e., virtue, which for a Stoic like him is a necessary and sufficient condition for happiness. My book, correspondingly, has two major parts: first, I am working out Seneca’s action theory and its philosophical origins, then, I am concerned with his ethics. In the first main chapter, I further argue that his action theory stems for the most part from the early Stoics, but that unlike them he has a concept of will. This concept, as I want to show in the second part, plays an important role in his ethics, too. (shrink)
This paper examines some neglected Chrysippean fragments on insecure apprehension (κατάληψις). First, I present Chrysippus’ account of how non-Sages can begin to fortify their insecure apprehension and upgrade it into knowledge (ἐπιστήμη). Next, I reconstruct Chrysippus’ explanation of how sophisms and counter-arguments lead one to abandon one’s insecure apprehension. One such counter-argument originates in the sceptical Academy and targets the Stoic claim that insecure apprehension can be acquired on the basis of custom (συνήθεια). I show how Chrysippus could defend the (...) possibility of custom-based apprehension, while also denying that there is custom-based knowledge. (shrink)
In this chapter, I explore Seneca’s characterization of becoming and being good, wise, or virtuous, which for a Stoic always amount to the same thing. There is one passage in which Seneca says it is an ars to become good; in another, he says wisdom is an ars, namely an ars vitae. If one bears in mind that wisdom in Stoic philosophy stands for the best possible moral state of character a human being can develop, Seneca’s remarks cannot but attract (...) our attention: it is an ars to become good and an ars to be good. Since it is natural to regard becoming and being (good) as two different things, it is natural to assume that the ars of the person who is striving after virtue (the proficiens) cannot be identical to the ars of the person who already is virtuous. I want to ask what the difference is. (shrink)
One Stoic response to the skeptical indistinguishability argument is that it fails to account for expertise: the Stoics allow that while two similar objects create indistinguishable appearances in the amateur, this is not true of the expert, whose appearances succeed in discriminating the pair. This paper re-examines the motivations for this Stoic response, and argues that it reveals the Stoic claim that, in generating a kataleptic appearance, the perceiver’s mind is active, insofar as it applies concepts matching the perceptual stimulus. (...) I argue that this claim is reflected in the Stoic definition of the kataleptic appearance, and that it respects their more general account of mental representation. I further suggest that, in attributing some activity to the mind in creating each kataleptic appearance, and in claiming that the expert’s mind allows her to form more kataleptic appearances than the amateur, the Stoics draw inspiration from the wax tablet model in Plato’s Theaetetus (190e–196d), where Socrates distinguishes the wise from the ignorant on the basis of how well they match sensory input with its appropriate mental ‘seal’ (σφραγίς). (shrink)
Since Mates’ seminal Stoic Logic there has been uncertainty and debate about how to treat the term anapodeiktos when used of Stoic syllogisms. This paper argues that the customary translation of anapodeiktos by ‘indemonstrable’ is accurate, and it explains why this is so. At the heart of the explanation is an argument that, contrary to what is commonly assumed, indemonstrability is rooted in the generic account of the Stoic epistemic notion of demonstration. Some minor insights into Stoic logic ensue.
The focus of this paper is the dispute between the Academic Arcesilaus of Pitane (ca. 316–240 BC) and the philosophy of Zeno of Citium. Scholars typically claim that Arcesilaus set out to attack Zeno’s epistemology or theory of knowledge. The framework of epistemology prevails in the modern reconstruction of Arcesilaus’s arguments. Proponents of this framework usually contend that the epistemic possibility of Stoic “cognition” or “apprehension” (κατάληψις) is the principal aim of Arcesilaus’s attack. The aim of this article is to (...) contest the limited scope of the framework of epistemology in the interpretation of Arcesilaus’s attack, and reposition his critical arguments, in view of the fragmentary evidence, within the framework of an ontology of knowledge. (shrink)
Here I propose an interpretation of the ancient Stoic psychological theory on which (i) the concepts that an adult human possesses affect the content of the perceptual impressions (φαντασίαι αἰσθητικαί) she forms, and (ii) the content of such impressions is exhausted by an ‘assertible’ (ἀξίωμα) of suitable complexity. What leads the Stoics to accept (i) and (ii), I argue, is their theory of assent and belief formation, which requires that the perceptual impression communicate information suitable to serve as the content (...) of belief. In arguing for (i), I reject a rival interpretation on which conceptualization occurs subsequently to the formation of a perceptual impression. In arguing for (ii), I deny that perceptual impressions have two kinds of content: one formulated in an assertible, the other sensory, featuring independently of this assertible. I explore the implications of (i) and (ii) for the Stoic theory of emotions, expertise, and rationality, and argue that they shed new light on the workings of impression, assent, and belief. (shrink)
This paper seeks to elucidate the distinctive nature of the rational impression on its own terms, asking precisely what it means for the Stoics to define logikē phantasia as an impression whose content is expressible in language. I argue first that impression, generically, is direct and reflexive awareness of the world, the way animals get information about their surroundings. Then, that the rational impression, specifically, is inherently conceptual, inferential, and linguistic, i.e. thick with propositional content, the way humans receive incoming (...) information from the world. When we suspend certain contemporary assumptions about propositional content, the textual evidence can be taken at face value to reveal why, for the Stoics, rational impressions are called thoughts (noēseis) and how the Stoics’ novel semantic entities called lekta (roughly, the meanings of our words) depend on rational impressions for their subsistence. (shrink)
This paper offers a new defense of the externalist interpretation of the kataleptic impression. My strategy is to situate the kataleptic impression within the larger context of the Stoic account of expertise. I argue that, given mastery in recognizing the limitations of her own state of mind, the subject can restrict her assent to kataleptic impressions, even if they are phenomenologically indistinguishable from those which are not kataleptic.
In this paper, I clarify some central aspects of Stoic thought concerning identity, identification, and so-called peculiar qualities (qualities which were seemingly meant to ground an individual’s identity and enable identification). I offer a precise account of Stoic theses concerning the identity and discernibility of individuals and carefully examine the evidence concerning the function and nature of peculiar qualities. I argue that the leading proposal concerning the nature of peculiar qualities, put forward by Eric Lewis, faces a number of objections, (...) and offer two constructive suggestions which turn upon reconsidering the nature and function(s) of peculiar qualities. Finally, I examine a simple but potent Academic argument against the view that identification requires detecting some attribute(s) unique to the relevant individual. Such an argument is, I argue, largely successful and may have encouraged later Stoics not to think that peculiar qualities enable identification. (shrink)
There is a traditional conception of knowledge but it is not the Justified True Belief analysis Gettier attacked. On the traditional view, knowledge consists in having a belief that bears a discernible mark of truth. A mark of truth is a truth-entailing property: a property that only true beliefs can have. It is discernible if one can always tell that a belief has it, that is, a sufficiently attentive subject believes that a belief has it if and only if it (...) has it. Requiring a mark of truth makes the view infallibilist. Requiring it to be discernible makes the view internalist. I call the view Classical Infallibilism. (shrink)
This paper explores what Epictetus thinks we need to learn in order to acquire the art of living, and, in doing so, illuminates the central tenets of Epictetus’ epistemology. It argues that we need to have cognition of preconceptions–innate, self-evident, general, ethical truths–and we need to know how to apply them. We acquire this “know-how” through habituation and, with it, are able to have cognition of correct applications.
This paper articulates Epictetus's moral epistemology. The argument of the paper is that the famous Stoic "art of living" is best thought of as a science or kind of knowledge, and that, in his conception of knowledge, Epictetus is an orthodox Stoic, upholding the main tenets of Stoic epistemology. Thus, what exactly the art of living is and how it can be acquired can be better understood by understanding Stoic epistemology.
This paper examines the Stoic account of apprehension (κατάληψις) (a cognitive achievement similar to how we typically view knowledge). Following a seminal article by Michael Frede (1983), it is widely thought that the Stoics maintained a purely externalist causal account of apprehension wherein one may apprehend only if one stands in an appropriate causal relation to the object apprehended. An important but unanswered challenge to this view has been offered by David Sedley (2002) who offers reasons to suppose that the (...) Stoics (or at least Zeno, the founder of the Stoa) did not make such a causal stipulation. I offer a defence of the traditional, causal reading against the challenges raised by Sedley but also argue, against the traditional view, that the Stoic account incorporated an internalist element. On the hybrid account defended here, in order to apprehend not only must the agent stand in an appropriate causal relation to the object apprehended but the agent’s appearance of the object must also be clear (a feature which is accessible to the epistemic agent). The traditional scholarly view rejects internalist interpretations because it is thought that such interpretations cannot make sense of the Stoics’ discussion of the ‘automatic assent’ produced by kataleptic appearances and a purely externalist view is taken to be charitable insofar as it saves the Stoics from a vicious regress which they would otherwise face (were they internalists). I spell out how the regress might be taken to function and defend an internalist interpretation against both these charges. The internalist element embraced by the Stoics does not lead to the problems it is often thought to and the account defended here not only does justice to the textual evidence but also sheds light on the Stoic debates with their sceptical opponents and grants the Stoics an epistemic account fit for purpose. (shrink)
This book argues that Augustine assimilated the Stoic theory of perception and mental language (lekta/dicibilia), and that this epistemology underlies his accounts of motivation, affectivity, therapy for the passions, and moral progress. Byers elucidates seminal passages which have long puzzled commentators, such as Confessions 8, City of God 9 and 14, Replies to Simplicianus 1, and obscure sections of the later ‘anti-Pelagian’ works. Tracking the Stoic terminology, Byers analyzes Augustine’s engagement with Cicero, Seneca, Ambrose, Jerome, Origen, and Philo of Alexandria, (...) demonstrating that Augustine appropriated Stoicism with greater sophistication than other religious writers. She also shows how he moved beyond the Stoics by enriching Stoic cognitivism with Platonic motivational theory, arguing that Augustine created a coherent synthesis. This newly discovered Augustinian moral psychology has elements that contemporary philosophers and psychologists have identified as important. (shrink)
This paper analyzes the apraxia argument in Cicero’s Academica. It proposes that the argument assumes two modes: the evidential mode maintains that skepticism is false, while the pragmatic claims that it is disadvantageous. The paper then develops a tension between the two modes, and concludes by exploring some differences between ancient and contemporary skepticism.
Abstract Can the wise person be fooled? The Stoics take a very strong view on this question, holding that the wise person (or sage) is never deceived and never believes anything that is false. This seems to be an implausibly strong claim, but it follows directly from some basic tenets of the Stoic cognitive and psychological world-view. In developing an account of what wisdom really requires, I will explore the tenets of the Stoic view that lead to this infallibilism about (...) wisdom, and show that many of the elements of the Stoic picture can be preserved in a more plausible fallibilist approach. Specifically, I propose to develop a Stoic fallibilist virtue epistemology that is based on the Stoic model of the moral virtues. This model of the intellectual virtues will show that (in keeping with a folk distinction) the wise person is never befooled, though that person might be fooled. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-14 DOI 10.1007/s12136-012-0158-0 Authors Sarah Wright, Department of Philosophy, University of Georgia, 107 Peabody Hall, Athens, GA 30602, USA Journal Acta Analytica Online ISSN 1874-6349 Print ISSN 0353-5150. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Carneades' pithanon should be understood as what is probably, though not certainly, true. In this, I oppose, e.g., Burnyeat and Frede, who argue that the pithanon should be understood as the persuasive, and not tied to notions of evidential support. There is a free pdf of this paper available on the OSAP website; see the link below.
This paper argues for a view that maximizes in the Stoics' epistemology the starkness and clarity characteristic of other parts of their philosophy. I reconsider our evidence concerning doxa (opinion/belief): should we really take the Stoics to define it as assent to the incognitive, so that it does not include the assent of ordinary people to their kataleptic impressions, and is thus actually inferior to agnoia (ignorance)? I argue against this, and for the simple view that in Stoicism assent is (...) either, in the case of the fool, doxa = agnoia, or alternatively, in that of the sage, epistêmê (knowledge). This view, together with reflection on the appropriate sense of "between" in the relevant reports of SE and Cicero, yields a sympathetic reading of an otherwise problematic challenge Sextus reports Arcesilaus as having prepared for the Stoic claim that katalêpsis, which is the criterion of truth, is between knowledge and opinion; on my view each side is proceeding in a philosophically legitimate way. (shrink)
The Roman Stoics hold that all humans possess the seeds of virtue and wisdom and innately develop certain natural concepts alternately called ' prolepseis,' 'koinai ennoiai,' or 'phusikai ennoiai.' This dissertation addresses the relation between these doctrines, concept-formation, and intellectualist psychology in the Early Stoa. The prevailing view is that the 'empiricism' of the Early Stoa precludes interpreting prolepsis and koine ennoia as tacitly functioning innate ideas; rather, the Roman Stoics are influenced by Platonic recollection. I argue to the contrary (...) that this interpretation is well grounded in the extant fragments from Chrysippus. ;Chapter One examines the evidence for regarding 'prolepsis,' 'koine ennoia,' and ' phusike ennoia' as technical terms designating a single Chrysippean doctrine. Chapter Two shows that the Stoic theory of concept-formation poses serious difficulties concerning the criterial function and scope of prolepsis and koine ennoia. These problems are addressed in Chapters Three and Four respectively. I conclude that they can be resolved by interpreting prolepsis and ennoia as successive stages in the development of reason. Specifically, I argue that prolepsis is a form of tacit knowledge that is providentially guaranteed to be true whereas koinai ennoiai are the articulations of prolepseis that serve as criteria for evaluating other beliefs. Since prolepseis and koinai ennoiai have identical propositional content, the Stoics tend to use the terms interchangeably, leading to confusions in both ancient sources and recent scholarship. ;Chapters Five and Six examine the historical and philosophical context of Stoic prolepsis. I suggest that the doctrine is appropriated from Epicurus in two stages. Academic criticism of the first stage has led to the 'empiricist' reading of Stoic epistemology. However, in response to this criticism Chrysippus develops the dispositional innatism that is preserved in the Roman Stoics' metaphor of seeds of virtue and wisdom. Plato's dialogues are influential throughout the formation of this theory. The Stoics regard their intellectualist psychology and science of dialectic as the true Socratic philosophy and offer prolepsis as an alternative to Platonic recollection. I conclude by suggesting that in the Roman period Stoic prolepsis is used to reformulate Platonic recollection as a theory of dispositional innatism. (shrink)
A number of late Stoic sources describe either ethical concepts or a supposed universal belief in gods as being innate in the human animal. Though Chrysippus himself is known to have spoken of "implanted preconceptions" (ἔμφυτοι προλήψεις) of good and bad, scholars have typically argued that the notion of innate concepts of any kind would have been entirely incompatible with his theory of knowledge. Both Epictetus' notion of innate concepts of good and bad and the references to an innate belief (...) in gods by other philosophers of the Roman era are thus generally held to be later developments, probably owing to a Platonist-Stoic syncretism. Review of the evidence, however, shows that Chrysippus, like Epictetus, held ethical concepts to represent a special category of conception in that their formation was guaranteed by oikeiôsis. Unlike other concepts, that is, these represent a formal conceptualization of an innate tendency to distinguish between things fitting for one's constitution and things not fitting that all animals, according to the Stoics, bring to their empirical experiences. While the notion that human belief in gods is similarly innate does seem to have been a later development, it too was explained with reference to oikeiôsis rather than resulting from a simple "syncretism.". (shrink)
The early Greek Stoics were the first philosophers to recognize the object of normal human perception as predicative or propositional in nature. Fundamentally we do not perceive qualities or things, but situations and things happening, facts. To mark their difference from Plato and Aristotle, the Stoics adopted phantasia as their word for perception.
The Stoic theory of knowledge was founded by Zeno on a perceptual and crudely materialistic base, but subsequently developed into an elaborate theory involving λεκτ which has proved difficult to reconstruct. The evolution of the school, influenced not only by internal differences but also by interaction with the Platonic Academy, certainly contributed to this development. Hence any adequate reconstruction of the Stoic theory of knowledge must take account of the differences among the positions of the different representatives of the school (...) with respect to the criticism put foward by the Academics. I propose here to clarify Zeno's position, showing how Arcesilaus' criticism helped to expose certain lacunae and thus to bring about changes in doctrine on the part both of Zeno himself and of his immediate successors. (shrink)
The understanding of perception advanced by Aristotle and Theophrastus is largely physiological in character, describing the mechanism of perception and its resulting epistemic value. Like Epicurean views, theirs is not a theory of sensory ideas. The Stoics develop a competing approach to perception that describes sensory phenomena in terms of conceptual, linguistic representations.