Stoicism is the teaching of one of the most influential philosophical schools of antiquity, founded around ca. 300 BC Zenon from Kitia; the name “Stoya” comes from the “Painted Portico” (Στοὰ Ποικίλη) in Athens, where he taught Zeno. The history of Stoicism is traditionally divided into three periods: Early (Zeno, Cleanthes, Chrysippus and their disciples, 3-2 centuries BC). The middle one (Panetius, Posidonius, Hecaton, etc., 2-1 centuries BC) and Late Standing (or Roman Stoicism): (Seneca, Mouzonius Rufus, Hierocles, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, 1st and 2nd centuries AD . e.). Whole compositions remained only from the last period. This makes the reconstruction of stoicism inevitable, which is now regarded as a rigorous system (finalized by Chrysippus). Stoicism (like cynicism, epicureanism and skepticism) is a practically oriented philosophy whose goal is to justify “wisdom” as an ethical ideal, but the unorthodox logic-ontological problem plays a fundamentally important role in it. In the field of logic and physics, the greatest influence on Stoicism was provided by Aristotle and the Megara School; ethics was formed under a cynical influence, which in Chrysigsha and in the Middle Stoi was accompanied by platonic and peripatetic.

The teaching of Stoicism is divided into logic, physics and ethics. The structural interrelationship of the three parts serves as an expression of the universal “logic” of being, or the unity of the laws of the world mind-logos (first of all, the law of cause and effect) in the spheres of cognition, world order and moral goal-setting.

The universal means of analyzing any objectivity are four interrelated classes of predicates, or categories: “substrate” (ὑποκείμενον), “quality” (ποιόν), “state” (πὼς ἔχον), “state in relation” (προς τί πώς έχον), meaningfully equivalent 10 Aristotelian categories.

LOGIC – the fundamental part of Stoicism; its task is to substantiate the necessary and universal laws of reason as the laws of cognition, being and ethical obligation, and philosophizing as a strict “scientific” procedure. The logical part is divided into rhetoric and dialectics; the latter includes the doctrine of the criterion (epistemology) and the doctrine of the signifier and the signified (grammar, semantics, and formal logic created by Chrysippus). The epistemology of Stoicism – the programmatic antithesis of the Platonic – proceeds from the premise that cognition begins with sensory perception. The cognitive act is constructed according to the scheme “impression” – “consent” – “comprehension”: the content of “impression” (“imprint in the soul”) is verified in the intellectual act of “consent” (συγκατάθεσις), leading to “comprehension” (συγκατάληψις). The criterion of its inexplicability is the “comprehending representation” (φαντασία καταληπτική), which arises only from a truly available objectness and reveals its content with unconditional adequacy and clarity. In “representations” and “comprehensions” only the primary synthesis of the sensory data occurs-a statement of the perception of some objectivity; but they do not give knowledge about it and, unlike the logical statements correlated to them (ἀξιώματα), can not have a predicate “true” or “false”. From the homogeneous “comprehensions” in memory, preliminary general concepts (προλήψεις, ἔννοιαι) form the sphere of the primary experience. To enter the system of knowledge, experience must acquire a clear analytical and synthetic structure: it is the task of dialectics, which studies the relations of disembodied meanings primarily. Its basis is semantics (finding a response in the logical semantic concepts of the 20th century), which analyzes the relation of the word-sign (“pronounced word”, λόγος προφορικός), denoted meaning (“inner word” = “lecton”, λόγος ἐνδιάθετος, λεκτόν) and a real denoter. The ratio of sign and meaning at the level of “lecton” is the primary model of cause-effect relationships. The relation of the corporeal and the incorporeal within the framework of the corporeal universe is a global (and unresolved) meta-problem of stoicism: there are only bodies; incorporeal (emptiness, place, time and “senses”) in a different way.

Formal logic (see Chrysippus) establishes a logical relationship between meanings, isomorphic to causal dependence in the physical world and ethical obligation; therefore, its basis is an implication (as a rigorous analytical procedure). The use of detailed statements (describing the real structure of “facts”) as terms allows us to regard the formal logic of Stoicism as the first “logic of propositions” in the history of European logic.

Physics, the last original physical doctrine of the pre-Neoplatonic period, has a total somaticism that does not have analogs in antiquity and is the basis of the successive-continual picture of the world. The two main sections of physics are ontology and anthropology. The pantheistic identification of God with corporeal beings leads to a fundamental shift in emphasis: the ontological model is the antithesis of not the idea and matter, but the two eternal “beginnings”: the active (god-Zeus = Logos) and the passive (the unqualified substratum, the substance), which should not be understood as primary substances, but as principles for the organization of a single entity. In the first stage of cosmogony, two pairs of elements, active (fire and air) and passive (earth and water), by condensation and rarefaction, actualize the opposite of “beginnings”. From elements all things arise according to individual “spermatic logos”, in which the Logos acts as the law of the organization and development of each individual “nature.” An infinite emptiness sphere surrounds the cosmos with a fixed earth in the center and a fiery ether on the periphery. Time is understood as a measure of motion (space, time and body are infinitely divisible). The cosmos is as transitory as the order: at the end of the cycle, the fire absorbs other elements (“ignition”), but in each subsequent cycle, the world is reborn from the fiery protosubstratum in its previous form.

The ultimate manifestation of the God-Logos on the physical level is the creative fire (πῦρ τεχνικόν), it is also nature (φύσις, that which in itself bears the beginning of generation and development). The creative fire is identified with the pneumatic, consisting of fire and air with all-pervading warm breath, the “soul” of the cosmic organism. The main characteristic of pneuma is the “fire pressure” (πληγὴ πυρός) or “tension” (τόνος), and bi-directional movement: the centripetal ensures the stability of any thing and the cosmos as a whole, and the centrifugal one provides a variety of physical qualities. This makes cosmic sympathy possible, the correlate of which is “universal and complete confusion” (κρᾶσις δι ‘ὅλων) as a consequence of the infinite divisibility and complete interpenetrability of bodily structures and their qualities. A separate thing (a physical “fact”) is defined as a “pneumatic state”: the ontology of stoicism registers not the substances but the actual states, or phenomena-facts.

The levels of organization of bodily structures are determined by the degree of purity and tension of pneumatic:

  1. the inorganic level, the “structure” (ἕξις);
  2. vegetative, “nature”;
  3. animal, “soul” (impressions and impulses);
  4. intelligent, “logos”.

A special branch of physics is devoted to the causal interaction of structures. The identification of logical necessity with physical causality leads to absolute determinism (the psychological basis of the ethical “therapeutics”): causality “out of nothing” is impossible, “possible” and “accidental” is postulated as unknown. A functional division accompanies the division of causes into known and unknowns into basic and auxiliary or (in moral projection) the decision of the subject (τὸ ἐφ’ἡμῖν, προαίρεσις) and external (independent of the subject) causality. All-cosmic “cohesion” of causes is understood as “fate” (εἱμαρμένη), and the need for such a “cohesion” – as “fate” (ἀνάγκη). In the providential-teleological hypostasis, “destiny” = “necessity” = the Logos acts as a “craft” (πρόνοια), expediently ordering the universe (the basis for the mantle). Theology, crowning cosmology, is built on the principle of allegory: in traditional gods, the various functions of the single Logos-Zeus are personified.

The subject of early anthropology, modeled in the paradigm of the macrocosm and microcosm, is an internally complete individual, wholly determined by its rational principle. The human soul is a “particle” of cosmic pneuma that permeates the entire body and separates from it after death – it consists of 8 parts: the five senses, the speech, the generative and the “leading”; in the latter (located in the heart) are concentrated “ability” of representation, consent, attraction and reasonableness. The sensation arises as a result of the circulation of the pneuma between the sense organ and the “leading” part, and the attraction is the result of “agreement” to the “impression” of the attractiveness of the object. Unlike Zeno, who considered impulses as epiphenomena of judgments, Chrysippus identified them with judgments, giving psychology a complete intellectualistic character. The Average Stoya conducted a platonic correction of the teaching, allowing the independent existence of the affective principle in the soul.

Ethics – the most important part of the teaching, which has had a universal impact on the entire development of ethics from Christianity to Kant, is based on the idea of ​​autarky of virtue when combining the concepts of virtue and happiness. The starting point of theoretical ethics can be considered the concept of “primary inclination”, or “disposition” (οἰκείωσις) established by Zeno, which establishes the “natural” scales of goal setting and obligation: the desire for self-preservation determines the actions of a living organism. In a rational being, this egoistic inclination, with age, needs to evolve through “disposition” to those close to respecting oneself and others as the bearers of the mind on a global scale. The ultimate moral goal is life according to a rational nature, identical with happiness and virtue (“virtues are enough for happiness”). Virtue (“intelligence”, φρόνησις, or knowledge of the good, evil and the indifferent, applied practically) is the only good, its opposite is the only evil; the other is indifferent (ἀδιάφορον), since it has no direct relation to virtue. Indifferent corresponds to the “proper” (καθήκον), τ. an action “naturally” justified and expedient for any living organism, but devoid of a truly moral character. The moral action, κατόρθωμα (the highest level of “proper”, in which nature fully realizes its reasonable potential) is determined not by intuitive common sense, but by a moral attitude to action. The embodiment of the ideal of virtue is the wise man. Being internally autonomous (virtue is the only thing that “depends on us”), he possesses an infallible intellectual and moral attitude corresponding to the ideal of apathy, and accepts his “destiny” as a manifestation of good fishing: the knowledge of moral necessity coincides with the understanding of cosmic causality. The sage’s goal is his perfection, as the perfection of the cosmos and expressed in action: the sage has friends, participates in the affairs of society, etc. Suicide was recommended in circumstances that render impossible the ideal-moral behavior. Specific moral prescriptions formed the main subject of practical ethics (moralistics).

The rigorous premise of ethics – everything that is not good is evil; Everyone who is not wise, vicious, has entered into an inevitable contradiction with the absolutization of the original “natural” basis of all action. After Chrysippus (especially in the Middle Stoic) attempts were made not to abandon the initial rigorism, to soften it somewhat by introducing the “preferred” in the sphere of moral goal-setting, as well as recognizing the moral dignity for “advancing” towards virtue. But despite all attempts to substantiate moral autonomy with the help of a peculiar “cosmodicy”, “the realm of freedom” was (due to the insufficient formalism of the ethical theory) sacrificed to nature, which is the common basis of ethics and law. Therefore, the theory of state and law, formally not part of ethics, is, in fact, its continuation, as it goes back to the theory of “primary propensity”. The doctrine of “Cosmopolis” as a world community of intelligent beings, based on the principle of justice as the norm of “natural law”, indicates the design of a new political antecedent for political and legal thinking that has had a universal impact on the development of European legal consciousness.

The evolution of Stoicism reflects the hidden tendencies of learning. In early stoicism, the logical and ontological problems are invariably present in the foreground. Average stoicism transforms anthropology and ethics, including platonic and peripatetic elements into it; the logical-ontological problematic gradually fades into the background. In late Stoicism, theorizing is finally limited to ethics, which is increasingly evolving towards moralism; in this form, he temporarily becomes the leading “philosophical ideology” of the Roman Empire. In parallel, there is a wide diffusion of stoic terminology and dogmatism, marking the end of Stoicism: as a practical philosophy, it could not stand the rivalry with Christianity, and as a theoretical one – with the revived Platonism.

Stoicism exerted a noticeable influence on Christian theo-cosmology, anthropology and ethics (apologists, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Nemesis of Emes, Augustine), on Arab-Muslim thought, and then on Renaissance “naturalism” and New European philosophy (Descartes, Spinoza, English empiricism, the Enlightenment, the theory of state and law of the 16th and 18th centuries); a special phenomenon is the program Neo-Stoicism of the 16th-17th centuries. (J. Lips, G. Dew Ver, P. Sharron), reanimated in the beginning 20 century (G.Loiselle). At present, stoicism again begins to be regarded as a source of productive philosophies (Deleuze).

If you have found any error in this study, please, notify a Simply Philosophy author by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Rate your experience with this philosophy study!

Discuss this Study

If you have found any error in this study, please, notify a Simply Philosophy author by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.