From Ancient and Medieval Philosophy: Essential Selections, by James Fieser
Copyright 2016, updated 12/1/2016
Lives of Stoics
Reconciling Free Will with Fate and Necessity
Epictetus: Resigning Oneself to Fate
Seneca: Controlling Anger
LIVES OF STOICS (Diogenes Laertius, Lives, 7)
Zeno of Citium (335–263 BCE)
Zeno was the son of Innaseas, or Demeas, and a native of Citium, in Cyprus, which is a Grecian city, partly occupied by a Phoenician colony. He had his head naturally bent on one side. . . . He was thin, very tall, of a dark complexion, because of which someone once called him an Egyptian Clematis [i.e., a woody vine] . . . . He had fat, flabby, weak legs, on which account Perseus, in his Convivial Reminiscences, says that he would refuse many invitations to supper. It is said that he was very fond of figs both fresh and dried in the sun.
He was a pupil, as has been already stated, of Crates [the Cynic]. After that, they say that he became a pupil of Stilpo and of Xenocrates [in Plato’s Academy], for ten years. . . . He associated himself to Crates in the following manner. Having purchased a quantity of purple from Phoenicia, he was shipwrecked close to the Piraeus [i.e., the port near Athens]. When he had made his way from the coast as far as Athens, he sat down by a bookseller's stall, being now about thirty years of age. When he picked up the second book of Xenophon's Memorabilia and began to read it, he was enchanted by it, and asked where such men as were described in that book lived. As Crates happened very coincidentally to pass at the moment, the bookseller pointed him out, and said, "Follow that man." From that time forth Zeno became a pupil of Crates. Though Zeno was in other respects very energetic in his application to philosophy, still he was too modest for the brazenness of the Cynics. Because of this, Crates, wishing to cure him of this false modesty, gave him a jar of lentil porridge to carry through the Ceramicus [i.e., a district in Athens]. When Crates saw that Zeno was ashamed and that he tried to hide it, Crates struck the jar with his staff, and broke it. As Zeno fled away, and the lentil porridge ran down his legs, Crates shouted to him, "Why do you run away, my little Phoenician, you have done no harm." For some time after he continued as a pupil of Crates, and when he wrote his treatise entitled the Republic, some said, jokingly, that he had written it upon the tail of the dog. . . . Eventually he left Crates, and became the pupil of the philosophers whom I have mentioned before, and continued with them for twenty years. It is related that he said, "I now find that I made a prosperous voyage when I was wrecked."
He would walk up and down in the beautiful colonnade [in Athens] which is called the Priscanactium, and which is also called poikile [i.e., stoa poikile, or painted porch], from the paintings of Polygnotus, and there he delivered his discourses, wishing to make that spot tranquil. For in the time of the thirty tyrants, nearly fourteen hundred of the citizens had been murdered there by them. Accordingly, from then on men came there to hear him, and from this his pupils were called Stoics. So also were his successors, who had been at first called Zenonians, as Epicurus tells us in his Epistles. Before this time, the poets who regularly visited this colonnade (stoa) had been called Stoics, as we are informed by Eratosthenes, in the eighth book of his treatise on the Old Comedy; but now Zeno's pupils made the name more notorious. The Athenians had a great respect for Zeno, and they accordingly gave him the keys of their walls, and honored him with a golden crown and a brass statue. This was also done by his own countrymen, who thought that the statue of such a man would be an honor to their city.
It is also said that he avoided a crowd with great care, so that he would sit at the end of a bench, so always to avoid being restricted on one side. He never would walk with more than two or three companions. . . . They say that he was once whipping a slave whom he had detected stealing. When the slave said, " It was fated that I should steal; " Zeno rejoined, "Yes, and that you should also be beaten." . . . The comic poets, without intending it, praise him in their very attempts to turn him into ridicule. Philemon speaks thus of him in his play entitled the Philosophers: “This man adopts a new philosophy. He teaches to be hungry, nevertheless he gets disciples. Bread is his only food, his best desert is dried figs, and water is his drink.” He died in the following manner. When he was going out of his school, he tripped, and broke one of his toes. Striking the ground with his hand, he repeated the line out of the Niobe [by Aeschylus]: “I am coming: why do you call me in this way!” Immediately he strangled himself, and so he died. The Athenians buried him in the Ceramicus [district of Athens], and honored him with the decrees which I have mentioned before, bearing witness to his virtue.
Cleanthes of Assos (331–232 BCE)
Cleanthes was a native of Assos, and the son of Phanias. He was originally a boxer (as we learn from Antisthenes, in his Successions). He came to Athens, having only four drachmas [i.e., one half of a week’s labor], as some people say. Attaching himself to Zeno, he devoted himself to philosophy in the fullest way and adhered to the doctrines as his master. . . . Cleanthes was especially renowned for his industriousness, so that as he was a very poor man, he was forced to work as a laborer. He would carry water in the gardens at night, and at day he would engage in philosophical discussions. Because of this he was called "well-drawer". . . . While he was very industrious, he was not gifted by nature, and was intellectually slow. When he was ridiculed by his fellow pupils, he would patiently endure it. . . . . Cleanthes did not even object when he was nicknamed “donkey” but only said that he was the only animal able to carry the burdens that Zeno put upon him. . . . He once said to a man who was conversing with him by himself, "You are not talking to a bad man." When someone criticized him because of his old age, he replied, "I too wish to leave, but when I see that I am in good health in every way, and am able to recite and read, I am content to remain." They say too, that he would write down all that he heard from Zeno on oyster shells, and on the shoulder-blades of oxen, because of his lack of money with which to buy parchment. . . . Although he was of this character and in such circumstances, he became so distinguished, that, even though Zeno had many other disciples of high reputation, Cleanthes succeeded him as head of his School. . . . He died in the following manner. His gums greatly swelled and, at the command of his physicians, he abstained from food for two days. He recovered to the point that his physicians allowed him to return to all his former habits. But he refused, and, saying that he had now already gone part of the way, he continued abstaining from food for the future and thus died. Some report that he was eighty years old, and having been a pupil of Zeno nineteen years.
Chrysippus of Soli (279–206 BCE)
Chrysippus was the son of Apollonius, and a native of either Soli or Tarsus (as Alexander tells us in his Successions), and he was a pupil of Cleanthes. Previously he practiced running as a public runner, after which he became a pupil of Zeno or of Cleanthes (as Diocles and the generality of authors say). While he was still living Chrysippus left him, and became a very prominent philosopher. He was a man of great natural ability and acuteness in every way. In many points he dissented from both Zeno and Cleanthes, about whom he often would say that he only wanted to be instructed in the dogmas of the school, and that he would discover the demonstrations for himself. But whenever Chrysippus opposed him with any vehemence, he always apologized. . . . He was industrious beyond all other men as is plain from his writings, for he wrote more than seven hundred and five books. He often wrote several books on the same subject, wishing to put down everything that occurred to him. He continually corrected his previous assertions, and used a great number of quotations from others. . . . Apollodorus of Athens (in his Collection of Dogmas), stated that what Epicurus had written out of his own head, and without any quotations to support his arguments, was a great deal more than all the books of Chrysippus. He writes, and I give his exact words, "For if anyone were to take away from the books of Chrysippus all the passages which he quotes from other authors, his paper would be left empty.” . . . One day, when Chrysippus was teaching in the Odeum [i.e., a lecture hall in Athens], he was invited to a sacrifice by his pupils. After drinking some sweet unmixed wine, he was overtaken with giddiness, and departed this life five days afterwards, having lived seventy-three years. . . . But some people say that he died from a fit of extreme laughter when, after seeing his donkey eating figs, he told the old woman [tending to it] to give the donkey some pure wine [unmixed with water] to drink afterwards. He then laughed so violently that he died.
Disagreement within the Stoic School (Numenius, History, 1)
In the School of the Stoics beginning from their very leaders, there has always been discord, which, indeed, has not yet ceased. It is with preference that they hold disputations, and [exercise] themselves over any argument that is difficult to refute. Some have held to their original teachings, others have already introduced changes. Even the first, who were similar to oligarchs, and were nevertheless disagreed with. It was really their fault that the later Stoics criticized the earlier ones so much, even to the extent that some claimed to be more stoical than others. This is especially so with those who disputed about externalities, and were petty. For it was the latter who especially exceeded the others, and faulted the others for being busybodies and quibblers.
Main Features (Diogenes Laertius, Lives, 7)
The Stoics themselves promoted growth in philosophy, particularly regarding the greater development of the art of syllogism, and included almost everything under definitions. Both Chrysippus and Zeno agreed on this point. They likewise supposed God to be the one originating principle of all things, and a being of the highest perfection whose providential care pervaded everything. These speculators were convinced about the existence of fate everywhere, using examples as the following. Suppose that a dog was attached to a wagon. If he is inclined to follow the wagon, he is both drawn by it and follows it voluntarily. He thus makes an exercise of free will in combination with necessity or fate. But if the dog is not inclined to follow the wagon, he will be completely coerced to do so. The same, of course, holds true in the case of people. For if they are not willing to follow, they will be completely compelled to do what has been decreed for them. The Stoics held that the soul lives after death, but that it is nevertheless a physical body, and one that is formed from the refrigeration of the surrounding atmosphere. For this reason, also, it was called psyche. They acknowledge likewise, that there is a transmigration of souls from one body to another, that is, for those souls for whom this migration has been destined. They accept the doctrine that there will be a conflagration, a purification of this world, some say the entirety of it, but others only a portion, and that the world itself is undergoing partial destruction. This corruption, and the generation from it of another world, they term purgation. They assume the existence of all bodies, and that body does not pass through body, but that a refraction takes place. They hold that all things involve plenitude, and that there is no vacuum. The foregoing are the opinions of the Stoics also. [Hippolitus, Refutation of All Heresies, 1]
Three Parts of Philosophy: Logic, Physics, Ethics (Diogenes Laertius, Lives, 7)
The Stoics divide philosophical knowledge into three parts: one part relates to physics, one to ethics, and one to logic. Zeno of Citium was the first who made this division (in his treatise On Reason). Chrysippus followed him (in the first book of his treatise On Reason, and in the first book of his treatise On Nature). . . . They compare philosophy to an animal, where logic is like the bones and sinews, physics like the fleshy parts, and ethical philosophy like the soul. They also compare it to an egg, calling logic the shell, and ethics the white, and physics the yolk. Similarly, they compare it to a garden in which logic is the fence which goes around it, physics are the soil or the fruit-trees, and ethics is the fruit. Again, they compare it to a city fortified by walls, and regulated by reason. However, some of them say that no one part is preferred to another, but they are all combined and united inseparably, and so they treat them all in combination. Others, though, class logic first, physics second, and ethics third, as Zeno does. . . . But Cleanthes says that there are six divisions of reason according to philosophy: dialectics, rhetoric, ethics, politics, physics, and theology; but others assert that these are not divisions of reason, but of philosophy itself. [Diogenes Laertius, Lives, 7.33]
[Chrysippus stated] "First, then, it seems to me, according as it has been correctly said by the ancients, that there are three kinds of philosophical speculations, logical, ethical, and physical, and that of these, the logical should to be placed first, the ethical second, and the physical third; within the physical, the discourse concerning the gods should to be the last. For this reason, the traditions concerning this have been named the ‘endings’.” [Plutarch, Contradictions]
The Stoics affirm that wisdom is the knowledge of things human and divine; that philosophy is the pursuit of that art which is convenient to this knowledge; that virtue is the sole and sovereign art which is thus convenient; and this distributes itself into three general parts—natural, moral, and logical. By which just reason (they say) philosophy is tripartite; of which one natural, the other moral, the third logical. The natural when our inquiries are concerning the world and all things contained in it; the ethical is the employment of our minds in those things which concern the manners of man's life; the logical (which they also call dialectical) regulates our conversation with others in speaking. [Pseudo-Plutarch, Placita]
As there are three kinds of lives, namely, the the theoretical, the practical, and the logical, they say that the last is the one which ought to be chosen. For, a logical animal, (that is, a rational one) was made by nature for the purpose of speculation and action. [Diogenes Laertius, Lives, 7.66]
Divisions and Value of Logic [Diogenes Laertius, Lives, 7]
34. Some say that the logical division is properly subdivided into two sciences, namely, rhetoric and dialectics. . . . Rhetoric itself they divide into three kinds: deliberative, forensic, and panegyric. Rhetoric is also divided into several parts, one relating to the discovery of arguments, one to style, one to the arrangement of arguments, and the other to the delivery of the speech. A rhetorical oration they divide into the introduction, the narration, the reply to the statements of the adverse party, and the peroration. . . .
35. They say that the most useful of these parts is the consideration of syllogisms. For, they show us what are the things which are capable of demonstration, and that contributes much to the formation of our judgment, and their arrangement and memory give a scientific character to our knowledge. They define reasoning to be a system composed of assumptions and conclusions; and syllogism is a syllogistic argument proceeding on them. Demonstration they define to be a method by which one proceeds from that which is more known to that which is less. A perceptual presentation (phantasia) is an impression produced on the mind, its name being appropriately borrowed from impressions on wax made by a seal. Perceptual presentations are comprehensible and incomprehensible. Comprehensible, which they call the criterion of facts, is produced by a real object, and is, therefore, at the same time conformable to that object. The incomprehensible has no relation to any real object, or else, if it has any such relation, does not correspond to it, being but a vague and indistinct representation.
Dialectics itself they pronounce to be a necessary science, and a virtue which includes several other virtues under its species. The disposition not to take up one side of an argument hastily, they consider to be a knowledge by which we are taught when we ought to agree to a statement, and when we ought to withhold our agreement. Discretion they consider to be a powerful reason, having reference to what is becoming, so as to prevent our yielding to an irrelevant argument. Irrefutability they define to be a power in an argument, which prevents one from being drawn from it to its opposite. Freedom from vanity, according to them, is a habit which refers the perceptions back to right reason.
Again, they define knowledge itself as an assertion or safe comprehension, or habit, which, in the perception of what is seen, never deviates from the truth. They say further, that without dialectic speculation, the wise man cannot be free from all error in his reasoning. For that is what distinguishes what is true from what is false, and which easily detects those arguments which are only plausible, and those which depend upon an ambiguity of language. Without dialectics they say it is not possible to ask or answer questions correctly. They add that precipitation in denials extends to those things which are done, so that those who have not properly exercised their perceptions fall into irregularity and thoughtlessness. Again, without dialectics, the wise man cannot be acute, and ingenious, and wary, and completely dangerous as an arguer. For it belongs to the same man to speak correctly and to reason correctly, and to discuss properly those subjects which are proposed to him, and to answer readily whatever questions are put to him. All of these qualities belong to a man who is skillful in dialectics. This then is a brief summary of their opinions on logic.
Knowledge and Zeno’s Fist Metaphor [Cicero, Academics, 2.4]
[Stoics] declare that no one but the wise man has knowledge of anything. Zeno illustrated this by the action of his hand. For showing his hand open to view with the fingers stretched out, perception, he said, is like this. Then, closing his fingers slightly, assent is like this. Next, entirely closed together his fingers and doubling his fist, he declared this position to resemble the mental act of comprehension; from that simile he also gave a new name to that mental act, calling it “grasping”. Again when he had brought up his left hand and had tightly and powerfully closed it over the other fist, he said that knowledge was like that, and that no one was able to attain to knowledge but the wise person.
36. The Stoics have chosen, first of all, to give an account of perception and sensation. For, the criterion by which the truth of facts is ascertained is a kind of perception, and because the judgment which expresses the belief, and the comprehension, and the understanding of a thing, a judgment which precedes all others, cannot exist without perception. For perception leads the way; and then thought, finding vent in expressions, explains in words the feelings which it derives from perception.
[Zeno defined perceptual presentation (phantasia) as an impression (tuposis) on the soul; Cleanthes compared it to the impression made by a seal on wax with literal depressions and elevations; Chrysippus opposed this literal understanding and defined it as an alteration in the soul.]
But there is a difference between perceptual presentation (phantasia) and illusory image (phantasma). For an illusory image is a conception of the intellect, such as takes place in sleep. Now, perceptual presentation is an impression (tuposis) produced on the mind, that is to say, an alteration (alloiosis), as Chrysippus states in the twelfth book of his treatise on the Soul. For we must not take this impression to resemble [an imprint in wax] that is made by a signet ring, since it is impossible to conceive that there would be many impressions made at the same time on the same thing. But perceptual presentation is understood to be that which is impressed, and formed, and imprinted by a real object, according to a real object, in such a way as it could not be by any other than a real object.
According to their view of the perceptual representations, some are sensible, and some are not. The sensible ones are derived by us from one or more senses. Those not sensible come directly from the intellect, as for instance, those that relate to incorporeal objects, or any others which are grasped by reason. Again, those which are sensible, are produced by a real object, which imposes itself on the intelligence, and compels its acquiescence; and there are also some others, which are simply apparent, mere shadows, which resemble those which are produced by real objects.
Assertable Propositions: Simple and Compound [Diogenes Laertius, Lives, 7]
48. An assertable (axioma), is that thing which is true, or false, or perfect in itself, being asserted, or denied positively, as far as depends upon itself (as Chrysippus explains it in his Dialectic Definitions). For instance, "It is day," "Dion is walking." It has received the name of assertable, because it is either maintained or denied. For the man who says, "It is day," appears to maintain the fact of its being day. If then it is day, the assertable put before one is true. But if it is not day, the assertable is false. An assertable, a question, and an interrogation, differ from each other, and so does an imperative proposition from one which is related to oaths, or imprecatory, or hypothetical, or appellative, or false. For that is an assertable which we utter, when we affirm anything positively, which is either true or false. A question is a thing complete in itself, as also is an assertable, but which requires an answer, as for instance, " Is it day?" Now this is neither true nor false; but, as "It is day" is an assertable; so is, "Is it day?" a question. . . .
Now of assertables, some are simple, and others are not simple. . . . Those are simple, which consist of an assertable or proposition, which is not ambiguous, (or of several assertables, or propositions of the same character,) as for instance the sentence, " It is day." Those are not simple, which consist of an assertable or proposition which is ambiguous, or of several assertables or propositions of that character. Of an assertable, or proposition, which is ambiguous, as " If it is day;" of several assertables, or propositions of that character, as, "If it is day, it is light."
Simple propositions are divided into the affirmative, the negative, the privative, the categorical, the definite, and the indefinite; those which are not simple, are divided into the combined, and the adjunctive, the connected and the disjunctive, and the causal and the augmentative, and the diminutive. That is an affirmative proposition, "It is not day." And the species of this is doubly affirmative. That again is doubly affirmative, which is affirmative of an affirmative, as for instance, "It is not not day; " for this amounts to, "It is day." That is a negative proposition, which consists of a negative particle and a categorem, as for instance, " No one is walking." That is a privative proposition which consists of a privative particle and an assertable according to power, as "This man is inhuman." That is a categorical proposition, which consists of a nominative case and a categorem, as for instance, "Dion is walking." That is a definite proposition, which consists of a demonstrative nominative case and a categorem, as for instance, " This man is walking." That is an indefinite one which consists of an indefinite particle, or of indefinite particles, as for instance, " Somebody is walking," " He is moving."
Of propositions which are not simple, the combined proposition is . . . that which is held together by the copulative conjunction “if.” This conjunction professes that the second member of the sentence follows the first, as for instance, “If it is day, it is light.” That which is adjunctive is . . . an assertable which is made to depend on the conjunction “since”, beginning with an assertable and ending in an assertable, as for instance, “Since it is day, it is light.” This conjunction professes both that the second portion of the proposition follows the first, and the first is true. A connected proposition is connected by some copulative conjunctions, as for instance, “It both is day, and it is light.” A disjunctive proposition is disconnected by the disjunctive conjunction “or” as for instance, “It is either day or night.” This proposition professes that one or other of these propositions is false. A causal proposition is connected by the word, “because;” as for instance, “Because it is day, it is light.” For the first is, so to speak, the cause of the second. An augmentative proposition, which explains the greater, is construed with an augmentative particle, and which is placed between the two members of the proposition, as for instance, “It is rather day than night.” The diminutive proposition is, in every respect, the exact contrary of the preceding one, as for instance, “It is less night than day.” Again, at times, assertables or propositions are opposed to each other in respect of their truth and falsehood, when one is an express denial of the other; as for instance, “It is day” and, “It is not day.”
Logical Arguments: Five Types [Diogenes Laertius, Lives, 7]
49. An argument, as Criuis says, is that which is composed of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion. For example, “If it is day, it is light;” “But it is day, therefore it is light.” For the major premise, is, “If it is day, it is light.” The minor premise is, “It is day.” The conclusion follows, “Therefore it is light.” The mode of a proposition is, so to speak, a figure of an argument, as for instance, such as this, “If it is the first, it is the second; but it is the first, therefore it is the second.”
A conditional syllogism is that which is composed of both the preceding arguments as for instance, “If Plato is alive, Plato breathes; but the first fact is so, therefore so is the second.” This conditional syllogism has been introduced for the sake, in long and complex sentences, of not being forced to repeat the assumption, as it was a long one, and also the conclusion; but of being able., instead, to content one’s self with summing it up briefly thus, “The first case put is true, therefore so is the second.” . . .
There are arguments which are not demonstrated from their not standing in need of demonstration, and these are laid down differently by different people. Chrysippus enumerates five kinds, which serve as the foundation for every kind of argument; and which are assumed in conclusive arguments properly so called, and in syllogisms, and in modes.
The first kind that is not demonstrated, is that in which the whole argument consists of a conjunctive and an antecedent; and in which the first term repeats itself so as to form a sort of conjunctive proposition, and to bring forward as the conclusion the last term. As, for instance, "If the first be true, so is the second; but the first is true, therefore, so is the second." The second kind that is not demonstrated, is that which, by means of the conjunctive and the opposite of the conclusion, has a conclusion opposite to the first premise. As, for instance, "If it is day, it is light; but it is night, therefore it is not day." For here the assumption arises from the opposite of the conclusion, and the conclusion from the opposite of the first term. The third kind that is not demonstrative, is that which, by a negative combination, and by one of the terms in the proposition, produces the contradictory of the remainder; as, for instance, "Plato is not dead and alive at the same time but Plato is dead; therefore, Plato is not alive." The fourth kind that is not demonstrative, is that which, by means of a disjunctive, and one of those terms which are in the disjunctive, has a conclusion opposite to what remains; as, for instance, "It is either the first, or the second: but it is the first; therefore, it is not the second." The fifth kind that is not demonstrative, is that in which the whole argument consists of a disjunctive proposition, and the opposite of one of the terms, and then one makes the conclusion identical with the remainder; as, for instance, " It is either day or night; but it is not night; therefore it is day." . . .
50. Such then are the doctrines which the Stoics maintain on the subject of logic, in order as far as possible to establish their point that the logician is the only wise man. For they assert that all affairs are looked at by means of that speculation which proceeds by argument, including under this assertion those that belong to both natural philosophy and moral philosophy. For, they say, how else could one determine the exact value of nouns, or how else could one explain which laws are imposed on which actions? Further, as there are two habits both incidental to virtue, the one considers what each existing thing is, and the other inquires what it is called. These then are the notions of the Stoics on the subject of logic.
Divisions of Natural Philosophy (Diogenes Laertius, Lives, 7)
67. They divide natural philosophy into the topics of (1) bodies, (2) principles, (3) elements, (4) gods, and (5) boundaries, space, and vacuum. They make these divisions according to species. But according to genera, they divide them into three topics: the world, the elements, and that which reasons on causes. The topic about the world, they say, is subdivided into two parts. For in one point of view, the mathematicians also have a share in it; and according to it, it is that they investigate into the nature of the fixed stars and the planets; as, for instance, whether the sun is of such a size as he appears to be, and similarly, whether the moon is. In the same way they investigate the question of spherical motion, and others of the same character. The other point of view is that which is reserved exclusively for natural philosophers, according to which it is that the existence and substance of things are examined (for instance, whether the sun and the stars consist of matter and form), and whether the sun is born or not born, whether it is living or lifeless, corruptible or incorruptible, whether it is regulated by Providence, and other questions of this kind.
The topic which examines into causes they say is also divisible into two parts. With reference to one of its considerations, the investigations of physicians study it. Accordingly, they investigate the dominant principle of the soul, the things which exist in the soul, seeds, and things of this kind. Its other division is claimed as belonging to both them and mathematicians, as, for instance, how we see, what is the cause of our appearance being reflected in a mirror, how clouds are collected, how thunder is produced, and so too the rainbow, the halo, comets, and things of that kind.
The World (Diogenes Laertius, Lives, 7)
68. They think that there are two general principles in the universe, the active and the passive, The passive is matter, an existence without any distinctive quality. The active is the reason which exists in the passive, that is to say, God. For that he, being eternal, and existing throughout all matter, makes everything. . . . But they say that principles and elements differ from each other. For that the one had no generation or beginning, and will have no end; but that the elements may be destroyed by the operation of fire. Also, that the elements are bodies, but principles have no bodies and no forms, and elements too have forms. . . .
They also teach that God is unity, and that he is called Mind, Fate, and Jupiter, and by many other names. That, as he was in the beginning by himself, he turned into water the whole substance which pervaded the air. As the seed is contained in the produce, so too, he being the seminal principle [logos spermatikos] of the world, remained behind in moisture, making matter suitable to be employed by himself in the production of those things which were to come after; and then, first of all, he made the four elements, fire, water, air, and earth. . . .
70. Again, the world is inhabited and regulated according to intellect and providence (as Chrysippus says, in his works on Providence, and Posidonius in the thirteenth book of his treatise on Gods). For, mind penetrates into every part of the world, just as the soul pervades us. But it is in a greater degree in some parts, and in a less degree in others. For instance, it penetrates as a habit, as, for instance, into the bones and sinews; and into some it penetrates as the mind does, for instance, into the dominant principle. Thus the whole world, being a living thing, endowed with a soul and with reason, has the aether (pneuma) as its dominant principle. . .
They say too, that the world is one and also finite, having a spherical form. For such a shape is the most convenient for motion. . . . On the outside there is diffused around it a boundless vacuum, which is incorporeal. It is incorporeal inasmuch, as it is capable of being contained by bodies, but is not so. They say that there is no such thing as a vacuum in the world, but that it is all closely united and compact. For, that this condition is necessarily brought about by the concord and harmony which exist between the heavenly bodies and those of the earth. . . . They say that these things are all incorporeal, and all alike. Moreover, that time is incorporeal, since it is an interval of the motion of the world. That of time, the past and the future are both illimitable, but the present is limited. They assert that the world is perishable, inasmuch as it was produced by reason, and is one of the things which are perceptible by the senses; and whatever has its parts perishable, must also be perishable in the whole. The parts of the world are perishable, for they change into each other. Therefore, the whole world is perishable. Again, if anything admits of a change for the worse it is perishable; therefore, the world is perishable, for it can be dried up, and it can be covered with water.
Now the world was created when its substance was changed from fire to moisture, by the action of the air. Then its denser parts coagulated, and so the earth was made, and the thinner portions were evaporated and became air. This being rarefied more and more, produced fire. Then, by the combination of all these elements, were produced plants and animals, and other kinds of things. . . .
Again, they say that the world is an animal, and that has reason, and life, and intellect. . . . It is an animal in this sense, as being an essence with life, and with sensation. For that which is an animal, is better than that which is not an animal. But nothing is better than the world. Therefore the world is an animal. It is possessed with life, as is plain from the fact of our own soul is, so to speak, a fragment broken off from it. . . .
More on The World (Pseudo-Plutarch, Placita)
The Stoics say that within the compass of the world there is no vacuum, but beyond it the vacuum is infinite.
The Stoics make a difference between that which is called the universe, and that which is called the whole world; the universe is the infinite space considered with the vacuum, the vacuity being removed gives the right conception of the world. Thus, the universe and the world are not the same thing.
The Stoics say that there is a vacuum into which infinite space by a conflagration will be dissolved.
It is often said by Chrysippus, that there is without the world an infinite vacuum, and that this infinity has neither beginning, middle, nor end. By this the Stoics chiefly refute that spontaneous motion of the atoms downward, which is taught by Epicurus. For, with infinity, there is no difference according to which one thing is thought to be above, another below.
The Stoics say that the world is one thing, and this they say is the universe and is corporeal.
The Stoics say that the figure of the world is spherical,
The Stoics say that the stars are of a circular form, like as the sun, the moon, and the world.
The Stoics say that the sun is an intelligent flame proceeding from the sea.
The Stoics say that the sun is spherical, and it is of the same figure with the world and the stars.
The Stoics say that the sun maintains its course only through that space in which its sustenance is seated, let it be the ocean or the earth; by the exhalations proceeding from these it is nourished.
The Stoics say that the moon is mixed of fire and air.
The Stoics declare, that in magnitude the moon exceeds the earth, just as the sun itself doth.
The Stoics believe that the moon is of the same figure with the sun, spherical.
The Stoics say that on account of the diversity of the moon’s substance the composition of its body is subject to corruption.
Socrates and Plato conjecture that these forms are beings separate from matter, subsisting in the understanding and imagination of the deity, that is, of mind. Aristotle accepted forms and ideas; but he does not believe them separated from matter, or patterns of the things God has made. Those Stoics, that are of the school of Zeno, profess that forms are nothing else but the conceptions of our own mind.
Pythagoras and Aristotle judge that the first causes are incorporeal beings, but those that are causes by accident or participation become corporeal substances; by this means the world is corporeal. The Stoics grant that all causes are corporeal, inasmuch as they are physical.
The Stoics think that of the four elements two are light, fire and air; two ponderous, earth and water; that which is naturally light by its own nature, not by any inclination, recedes from its own center; but that which is heavy by its own nature tends to its center; for the center is not a heavy thing in itself.
Most of the Stoics say that motion is time.
God Pervades and is the Substance of Everything (Diogenes Laertius, Lives, 7.72)
They say that God is a living being, immortal, rational, perfect, and intellectual in his happiness. He is unsusceptible of any kind of evil, having a foreknowledge of the world and of all that is in the world. However, he does not have the shape of a human. He is the creator of the universe, and, so to speak, the Father of all things, both general and particular. A portion of God pervades everything, which is called by different names, according to its powers. For they call him Dia as being the person everything is; Zeus because he is the cause of life, or because he pervades life; Athena, with reference to the extension of his dominant power over the aether; Hera, because of his extension through the air; Hephaestus, because of his pervading fire, which is the chief instrument of art; Poseidon, as pervading moisture; Demeter, as pervading the earth. In the same way, regarding some other of his unique attributes, they have given him other names.
Zeno asserted that the substance of God is the whole world and the heaven (as was also stated by Chrysippus in his first book Of the Gods, and by Posidonius in his first book with the same title). Antipater (in the seventh book of his treatise on the World) says that his substance is like air. Boethus (in his treatise on Nature), calls the substance of God the sphere of the fixed stars. Divine nature they define to be, that which keeps the world together, and sometimes that which produces the things upon the earth. Nature is a habit which derives its movements from itself, perfecting and holding together all that arises out of it. It does so according to the principles of production, in certain definite periods, and doing the same as the things from which it is separated. It has for its object, suitableness and pleasure, as is plain from its having created man. . . . [The say] that all things are produced by fate. Fate, is a connected cause of existing things, or the reason according to which the world is regulated.
Chrysippus’s Various Notions of God (Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods, 1.15)
We come next to Chrysippus, who is considered the most skillful exponent of the fantastic notions of the Stoics, and who gathers together a large group of deities so utterly removed from knowledge that, although our mind seems able to picture in imagination anything whatever, we cannot even form an idea of them by conjecture. For he tells us that divine power resides in reason and in the soul and mind of nature taken as a whole. He also declares that the world itself is God and the universal outpouring of its soul. Also, it is this same world’s guiding principle, operating in mind and reason, together with the common nature of things and the totality which embraces all existence. Further, divinity is the foreordained might and necessity of the future. Also he deifies fire and the principle of æther that we have mentioned before. So too with those elements whose natural state is one of flux and transition, such as water, earth, and air. He also deifies the sun, the moon, the stars, the universal existence in which all things are contained. It is also those human beings who have attained immortality.
Knowledge of God through Beauty (Plutarch, Placita)
The Stoics hold that God is a thing more common and obvious, and is a mechanical fire which every way spreads itself to produce the world. It contains in itself all seminal virtues, and by this means all things by a fatal necessity were produced. This spirit, passing through the whole world, received different names from the mutations in the matter through which it ran in its journey. God therefore is the world, the stars, the earth, and (highest of all) the mind in the heavens.
The Stoics define the essence of a god as follows. It is an intelligent and fiery spirit, which has no shape, but is continually changed into what it pleases, and assimilates itself into all things. The knowledge of this deity they first received from the beauty of those things which so visibly appeared to us. For they concluded that nothing beautiful could formed merely casually or by chance, but that such things were fashioned through the skill of a great understanding that produced the world.
That the world is beautiful is made clear from the figure, the color, the size of it, and likewise from the wonderful variety of those stars which adorn this world. The world is spherical; the orbicular has the preeminence above all other figures, for being round itself it has its parts like itself. (For this reason, according to Plato, the understanding, which is the most sacred part of a person, is in the head.) The color of the world is most beautiful since it is painted with blue. Although it is a little darker than purple, yet has such a shining quality, that by reason of the vehement efficacy of its color it cuts through such a space of air. From this it is that at so great a distance the heavens are to be contemplated. In this very greatness of the world the beauty of it appears. Examine all things: that which contains the rest carries a beauty with it, such as an animal or a tree. Also things which are visible to us accomplish the beauty of the world. The oblique circle called the Zodiac in heaven is with different images painted and distinguished: “There's Cancer, Leo, Virgo, and the Claws; Scorpio, Arcitenens, and Capricorn; Amphora, Pisces, then the Ram, and Bull; The lovely pair of Brothers next succeed.”
There are a thousand other examples that give us the suitable reflections of the beauty of the world. Thus Euripides says, “The starry splendor of the skies, the beautiful and varied work of that wise Creator, Time.” From this the knowledge of a god is conveyed to man; that the sun, the moon, and the rest of the stars, being carried under the earth, rise again in their proper color, magnitude, place, and times. Therefore, they who by tradition delivered to us the knowledge and veneration of the gods did it by these three manner of ways: first, from Nature; secondly, from fables; thirdly, from the testimony supplied by the laws of commonwealths. Philosophers taught the natural way; poets, the fabulous; and the political way is to be had from the constitutions of each commonwealth.
Chrysippus and Cleanthes, having filled (as one may say) heaven, earth, air, and sea with gods, have not yet made any one of all these gods immortal or eternal, except Jupiter alone, in whom they consume all the rest. So, it is no more suitable for him to consume others than to be consumed himself. For it is alike an infirmity to perish by being resolved into another, and to be saved by being nourished by the resolution of others into himself. Now these are not like other of their absurdities, gathered by argument from their suppositions or drawn by consequence from their doctrines. Rather, they themselves proclaim it aloud in their writings concerning the gods, (On Providence, On Fate, and On Nature), expressly saying that all the other gods were born, and will die by the fire, melting away, in their opinion, as if they were of wax or tin.
The Eternal Recurrence: Creation and Destruction though Fire (Philo, The Eternity of the World)
The Stoics hold [that the world] is a certain admirably-arranged essence, extending to the period of conflagration, either beautifully adorned or unadorned, the periods of the motion of which are called time. . . .
The Stoics speak of one world only, and hold that God is the cause of its creation, but that the cause of its destruction is no longer God, but the power of invincible, unwearied fire, which pervades all existing things, in the long periods of time dissolving everything into itself, while from it again a regeneration of the world takes place through the providence of the Creator. According to these men there may be one world spoken of as eternal and another as destructible, destructible in reference to its present arrangement, and eternal as to the conflagration which takes place, since it is made immortal by regenerations and periodical revolutions which never cease. . . .
The Stoic will say that time is admitted to be an interval of the motion of the world, but not of that world only which is arranged and adorned by itself, but also of that one which is conceived of in connection with the conflagration which has been spoken of. . . .
[The Stoics said that] fire is the cause of all motion, and motion is the beginning of generation (for it is impossible that anything whatever should be generated without motion). For this reason, they said that before the new world began to be formed, when it was beginning to be fashioned, the whole fire would not be extinguished in that conflagration. They affirmed that some would still remain, but yet only a small portion. They were very cautious about this since, if it would be entirely extinguished, the consequence would be that everything would remain motionless and devoid of ornament, inasmuch as the cause of motion would no longer be in any existence. . . .
[The Stoics] in their arguments, assumed that a vacuum of infinite extent will be left abandoned on the outside of the world. That so, since it is fated to be subjected to a certain diffusion of boundless extent, it may not be in want of a place which may be capable of receiving that diffusion. When therefore it has been extended and increased to such a degree, as to be very nearly equal to the infinite extent of the vacuum by the boundless and illimitable extension of its own diffusion, it then, according to them, is itself the seminal principle [logos spermatikos] to itself; but when, according to a perfect regeneration of the parts, its entire substance . . . [line lost] . . . being contracted in the extinction of the fire into dense air; but when the air again is contracted, and when it settles down into water, then again the water is still further condensed, so as to be changed into earth, which is the best of all the elements.
Each Recurrence the Same (Arius Didymus, Epitomae, in Eusebius, Preparation, 15)
But the oldest of this sect are of opinion that all things are changed into ether, when at certain very long periods all are resolved into an ethereal fire. . . . But from this it is clear that Chrysippus has not accepted this confusion in reference to substance (for that was impossible), but only that which was meant as equivalent to change. For the term destruction is not properly understood of the great destruction of the world which takes place in long periods by those who hold the doctrine of the dissolution of the universe into fire, which they call conflagration, but they use the term destruction as equivalent to change in the course of nature.
For is held by the Stoic philosophers that the universal substance changes into fire, as into a seed, and coming back again, from this completes its organization, such as it was before. This is the doctrine which was accepted by the first and oldest leaders of the sect, Zeno [of Citium], Cleanthes, and Chrysippus. For Zeno [of Tarsus] (who was the disciple and successor of Chrysippus in the School) is said to have doubted about the conflagration of the universe.
The common reason having advanced so far, and a common nature having become greater and fuller, and having at last dried up all things and absorbed them into itself, finds itself in the universal substance, having gone back to the condition first mentioned, and to that resurrection which makes the Great Year, in which takes place the restitution from itself alone to itself again.
When it has returned, because of an arrangement such as that from which it began to make a similar organization, it according to reason follows the same course again, so that such periods go on from eternity and never cease. For it is not possible for all things to have a cause of their beginning, nor of that which administers them. For under things created there must lie a substance of a nature to receive all the changes, and the power that out of it created them. For as there is in our case a certain kind of creative nature, there must of necessity be something of the same kind in the world also, something uncreated, for there cannot be a beginning of creation in the case of this nature: and in the same way as it is uncreated, it is also impossible for it to be destroyed, either by itself, or by anything external that would destroy it.
Necessity and Fate
The Stoics, in this agreeing with Plato, say that necessity is a cause invincible and violent; that fate is the ordered complication of causes, in which there is a blending of those things which proceed from our own determination, so that certain things are to be attributed to fate, others not. [Plutarch, Placita]
Chrysippus said that fate is a spiritual force, which in due order manages and rules the universe. Again, in his book "Definitions," he says that fate is the reason of the world, or that it is that law whereby Providence rules and administers everything that is in the world. It is that reason by which all things have been, all things are, and all things will be produced. The Stoics say that it is a chain of causes, that is, it is an order and connection of causes which cannot be resisted. [Plutarch, Placita]
Anaxagoras and the Stoics say that fortune is that cause which human reason cannot comprehend. For there are some things which proceed from necessity, some things from Fate, some from choice and free-will, some from Fortune, some from chance. [Plutarch, Placita]
Others [like the Stoic Chrysippus] define Fate differently: it is "the interconnection of causes" in "their connection towards the infinite," by which every posterior fact is the consequence of an anterior one. Thus the things that follow relate to the things that precede, and, as their effects, necessarily depend thereupon. Among these [Stoic] philosophers there are two conceptions of Fate: some consider that everything depends from a single principle, while others do not. [Plotinus, Enneads]
Fate is, as the Stoics define it, a certain interconnection of causes which may not be avoided. It is a fast knitting together of causes which may not be altered. It brings to everything, and conveys back and forth, such effects only, as are according to the motions, and necessity of destiny itself, but not such effects rather as are most expedient. [Nemesius, The Nature of Man]
There are some [i.e., Chrysippus, Philopater and other Stoics] who affirm that things may be in our power, and that there may be fate also. For, some features, they say, are given by destiny to everything that is made, as to the water to cool; to every plant to bear such fruit as is according to its kind; to a stone to sink downward; to fire to mount upwards; and to living-creatures to accept or to be desirous of things agreeable to them. If nothing [outside of us, or belonging to destiny] conflicts with what we attempt to do, then it becomes perfectly in our power to proceed. Indeed, then, they say, we will certainly effect it. [Nemesius, The Nature of Man]
Reason compels us to admit that by Fate all things take place. By Fate I mean that which the Greeks call heimarmene, that is, a certain order and series of causes, for cause linked to cause produces all things. In this connection of cause consists the constant truth which flows through all eternity. From this it follows that nothing happens which is not predestined to happen. In the same way nothing is predestined to happen, the nature of which does not contain the efficient causes of its happening. [Cicero, On Divination, 1.55]
Chrysippus, the leader of the Stoics, defines fate (which the Greeks call heimarmene) in this manner: “fate,” he says, “is a certain unchallengeable and eternal series and chain of things, moving and interweaving itself in a fixed and established order of events, with which it is fitted and connected.” To the best of my memory, I have included the exact words of Chrysippus so that if anyone thinks that my interpretation of this is obscure, he may refer to the words themselves. In his fourth book On Providence he says, that fate is “a natural harmony of all things from eternity, each following the other with unalterable interdependence.” [Gellius, Attic Nights, 7.2]
RECONCILING FREE WILL WITH FATE AND NECESSITY (Cicero, On Fate)
Necessity and the Principle of Bivalence that Every Proposition is either True of False
9. There are no natural causes flowing from the necessity of things which determine the truth of the proposition that “Carneades came down into the Academy”. This fact had its causes, but we must distinguish between those prior causes that depend on chance, and those efficient causes that contain a physical energy and influence. Thus this proposition was always true and certain, that "Epicurus will die at the age of seventy-two, in the Archonship of Pitharatus." Yet there were no fatal causes that determined this event. But since it took place we may be sure that it necessarily happened in the way it did. Those who affirm that future things are unchangeable, and that things true and certain cannot become false and uncertain, ought not to be regarded as the partisans of strict fatalism, since they are only explaining the meaning of words. However, those philosophers who introduce a chain of eternal causes of absolute necessity, rob the human soul of its free-will, and bind it hand and foot in the necessity of fate. . . .
10. Here let me take the liberty for a moment to agree with Epicurus, and deny that every proposition is either true or false [i.e., bivalence]. I would rather expose myself to criticism for this, than grant that fate governs all things. For while this latter opinion [regarding fate] is entirely indefensible, the former [regarding bivalence] is merely doubtful. Therefore, Chrysippus strives to prove that every proposition must be true or false. Epicurus, though, fears that by conceding this point [of bivalence], he may be obliged to admit that everything happens through fate. For, the [bivalent] truth or falsehood of any given proposition existing from all eternity, must be certain in one sense or other. If certain, then it is necessary according to the necessity of fate, and thus Epicurus thinks that necessity and fate are established. But Chrysippus, on the other hand, fears that, if he cannot establish his [bivalence] principle that every proposition is either true or false, then it will be impossible to prove that everything is done in consequence of fate, and of the eternal causes of all future events.
Lazy Man Argument against Fate: If Everything is Fated, then we Do Not have to do Anything
12. Nor need we be deterred from this line of reasoning [concerning bivalence and necessity] by the argument called the lazy man (or, by some philosophers the “master argument”), which, if we follow it, it would induce us to remain inactive all our lives. This argument may be thus stated. "If it be the will of fate that you should free yourself from this disease, then whether you take medicine or not, you will free yourself equally." Again, " If it is the will of fate that you should not escape from your malady, whether you take medicine or not, you will not escape." Fate, therefore, is the regulator of both alternatives, and any application to a physician will be useless.
This argument is very appropriately called lazy, for if we adopt it, we must remain in absolute idleness, and abstain from all action whatever. We may change the statement of this argument and omit the word fate, but still it has the same effect. "If from all eternity this proposition is true, you will escape from this malady; then whether you consult a physician or not, you will escape from it." Again; "If from all eternity this proposition is false, you will not recover from this disease; then you will not escape from it whether you consult a physician or not."
Chrysippus’ Response: Lazy Man Argument Fallaciously relies on a Compound Proposition
12. Chrysippus rejects this [lazy Man] argument. For, he says, we must distinguish between two kinds of propositions, the simple and the compound. For instance, this is a simple proposition: "Socrates will die this day." Here, whether he does anything, or does not do so, the day of his death is definitively fixed. But if the fate spoken of is of this sort, "Laius will beget Oedipus," then it cannot be added, “whether Laius sleeps with a woman or not” for it is a compound fact, and “co-fated”, to use Chrysippus's expression. For, it is fated both that Laius will sleep with his wife, and that he will beget Oedipus. In the same way, if it is asserted, “Milo will compete in the Olympic games”, it would be absurd to reply that he must compete whether he meets any opponent or not. For the assertion “he will compete”, is a compound one, because there is no competition without an opponent. All sophisms of this nature are demolished in the same way. "Whether you consult a physician, or whether you do not, you will recover,” is fallacious. For it is just as much fated that you will consult a physician as that you will recover.
Carneades’ Response: Not Everything is Fated since Some things are Within our Power
14. Carneades also fully rejects this [lazy man] method of arguing, and thinks that these conclusions are adopted too hastily. He therefore pushed his argument in a plainer manner, and avoided deception. His conclusions were formed in this way: "If everything happens by prior causes, all these causes must be closely and compactly bound to each other by a natural interconnection. Now if this is the case, then necessity governs all things; and if this too is the case, then nothing is in our own power. But some things are in our own power. Yet, if all things happen by fate, then then all things happen by prior causes. Therefore, all that happens does not happen by fate." This argument cannot be made more firm.
Divine Foreknowledge not Based on Bivalence, but only on Knowledge of Causes
14. Suppose someone were to try to reply to Carneades, and to argue as follows. "If all that happens is true from all eternity, so that it must happen in a specific manner [i.e., bivalence], then it follows necessarily that all things are closely and compactly bound together by a natural interconnection" [i.e., causal necessity]. He would be in effect saying nothing. For there is an essential difference between (1) whether a natural cause from eternity makes future things true [i.e., bivalence], or (2) whether even without a natural eternity those future things can be recognized as true [from their necessary causes]. Therefore, Carneades says that Apollo himself cannot predict with certainty what things will take place, except for those things whose causes are so contained in nature that they must eventually take place.
For what can the deity himself have seen to make him say that “Marcellus (who was consul three times) would perish in the sea?” This event was indeed true from all eternity [i.e., bivalence], but it had no efficient cause. In Carneades opinion, Apollo himself could not know those past events which leave no signs or remnants. How then can he know events which are future? For it is only by an acquaintance with efficient causes that we can foreknow the particular events which result from them. Therefore, he says, Apollo could not predict in the case of Oedipus that he would certainly kill his father, because there existed no prior cause for such an event in nature.
15. Thus, the Stoics, who hold that everything [causally] happens by fate, can consistently accept the truth of oracles of this kind, and of other things that are types of divination. However, those who only assert that all things which must happen are certain from all eternity [i.e., bivalence], may, if they please, reject such consequences [about oracles and divination]. Their position is more restricted than the Stoics.
18. But Chrysippus, rejecting necessity, yet believing that nothing can happen without prior causes, distinguishes causes into two kinds, in order to preserve the doctrine of fate, and yet avoid that of [causal] necessity. There are, he says, certain [internal] absolute principal causes, and certain [external] auxiliary proximate causes. When, therefore, we assert that all things happen by prior causes, we do not so much refer to these [internal] absolute or principal causes, but rather the [external] auxiliary and proximate ones. He therefore opposes the argument that I have just mentioned in this manner. Chrysippus says, if everything happens by fate, I grant that everything happens by prior causes; but these prior causes are not [internal] principal ones, but instead are [external] auxiliary ones. If these latter [external] causes are not in our power, it does not follow that that [internal] desire itself is outside of our power. However, if we [incorrectly] say that everything happens from [internal] principal causes, then, since these [prior necessitating] causes are beyond our control, desire is likewise beyond our control [since it would then be like an external cause].
Those, therefore, who thus introduce fate, and join necessity with it, rush wildly into this absurd consequence, namely, the destruction of free-will. But those who admit prior causes without supposing them to be [internal] principal causes, have no such error to fear. In fact, nothing is more natural, according to these philosophers, than the manner in which assent is produced from prior causes. They grant that assent cannot arise without some corresponding action upon the senses, yet they say that this action upon the senses, being only an [external] proximate cause, not an [external] principal one, takes place as Chrysippus describes.
Rolling Cylinder Analogy: External Cause gives it a Push, Internal Cause makes it Roll
18. It is not that this assent can arise without some external cause, (for sense must be acted upon by seeing an object). Rather, it is like a rolling cylinder or spinning top, which cannot begin to move until it is pushed or impacted. But after they have received the impact, they continue their rolling or spinning motions according to their own natures or forms.
19. For, Chrysippus states, “a man who pushes a cylinder gives it an [external] principle of motion, but not [internally and] immediately that of rolling. So when an object [externally] strikes our senses and conveys its image to our soul [like an imprint on wax], it nevertheless leaves us [internally] free to form our specific assent concerning it. Again, it is like the cylinder which was externally pushed, but then continues to move according to its own [internal] force and nature. In short, if some effect were produced without a prior cause, it would then be false that all things happen by fate. If, however, it is probable that everything which happens indeed has a prior cause, then why should we not admit that all things happen by fate, unless we understand this distinction between the two different causes [i.e., external and internal]?”
This is Chrysippus’s view of the situation. But it is a different view if someone denied that our assent is the effects of fate, yet also held that our assent must be produced without a prior impression made on our senses. But both parties will be in agreement if they grant that a prior impression is made on the senses, and yet that the assent is not the effect of fate, since the [external] proximate cause does not specifically trigger assent. For although Chrysippus grants that the [external] proximate cause of assent is in the impression of the object made on the senses, this does not imply that it was the [internal] necessary cause of assenting to it.
THE SOUL (MIND)
Features of the Soul (Plutarch, Placita)
The Stoics say that the soul is a hot exhalation (pneuma).
The Stoics say the soul is constituted of eight parts. Five of these are the senses, hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, smelling, the sixth is the faculty of speaking, the seventh of generating, the eighth of commanding; this is the principal of all, by which all the other are guided and ordered in their proper organs, as we see the eight arms of a polypus aptly disposed.
The Stoics are generally of this opinion, that the seat of the soul is throughout the heart, or in the spirit about it.
The Stoics say, when the souls leave the bodies, they are carried to different places. The souls of the unlearned and ignorant descend to the conglomerate of earthly things, but the learned and vigorous last till the general fire.
The Stoics give this definition of sense: Sense is the apprehension or comprehension of an object by means of an organ of sensation. There are several ways of expressing what sense is. It is either a habit, a faculty, an operation, or an imagination which apprehends by means of an organ of sense—and also the eighth principal thing, from whence the senses originate. The instruments of sense are intelligent exhalations (pneuma), which from the said commanding part extend unto all the organs of the body.
The Stoics say that what the senses represent is true; what the imagination represents, is partly false, partly true.
The Stoics say that there are five senses properly so called, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching.
The Stoics affirm that every man, as soon as he is born, has a principal and commanding part of his soul, which is in him like a sheet of writing-paper, to which he commits all his notions. The first manner of his inscribing is by denoting those notions which flow from the senses. Suppose it is of a thing that is white. When the present sense of it is vanished, there is yet retained the remembrance. When many memorative notions of the same resemblance concur, then he is said to have an experience. For experience is nothing more than the abundance of notions that are of the same form that meet together. Some of these notions are naturally produced according to the aforesaid manner, without the assistance of special skill. The others are produced by discipline, learning, and industry, and only these only are properly called “notions”, whereas the others are called “preconceptions”. But “reason”, which gives us the designation of rational, is completed by preconceptions in the first seven years. The conception of the mind is the vision that the intelligence of a rational animal has received. When that vision falls upon the rational soul, then it is called the “conception of the mind”, for it has derived its name from the mind [i.e., ennoema from nous]. Therefore, these visions are not to be found in any other animals, and they only are appropriated to gods and to us men. If we consider these generally, they are “phantasms”, but if we consider them specifically, they are “notions”. [By analogy,] with coins, if you consider them according to their own value, they are simply coins; but if you consider them as a price for a naval voyage, they are called not merely coins, but your transportation.
The Stoics say that the highest part of the soul is the commanding part of it. This is the cause of sense, imagination, consents, and desires. We call this the rational part. From this principal and commander there are produced seven parts of the soul, which are spread through the body, as the seven arms in a polypus. Of these seven parts, five are assigned to the senses, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching. Sight is a spirit which is extended from the commanding part of the eyes; hearing is that spirit which from the principle reaches to the ears; smelling a spirit drawn from the principal to the nostrils; tasting is a spirit extended from the principle to the tongue; touching is a spirit which from the principal is drawn to the extremity of those bodies which are obnoxious to a sensible touch. Of the rest, the one called the generative is a spirit which reaches from the principal to the generating vessels; the other, which is the vocal and termed the voice, is a spirit extended from the principal to the throat, tongue, and other proper organs of speaking. This principal part itself has that place in our spherical head which God has in the world.
The Stoics say that all the passions are seated in those parts of the body which are affected, the senses have their residence in the commanding part of the soul. Epicurus, though, says that all the passions and all the senses are in those parts which are affected, but the commanding part is subject to no passion.
Plato and the Stoics hold that sleep arises from the relaxation of the sensitive spirit. It does not obtain complete relaxation such as if it fell to the earth, but only so that the spirit is carried through the intestine and parts of the eyebrows, in which the principal part has its residence. But when there is a total relaxing of the sensitive spirit, death occurs.
Human Fetus and the Human Soul
The Stoics say that an embryo is not an animal, but is to be considered part of the mother's abdomen. It is just as we believe that the fruit of trees is considered part of the trees, until it is full ripe, then it falls and ceases to belong to the tree. So it is with the embryo. [Plutarch, Placita]
They say that the human seed having been duly deposited during intercourse in the womb, and having been by natural impulse quickened, it becomes condensed into the mere substance of the flesh, which is in due time born, warm from the furnace of the womb, and then released from its heat. (This flesh) resembles the case of hot iron, which is in that state plunged into cold water. For, being smitten by the cold air (into which it is born), it at once receives the power of animation, and utters vocal sound. [Tertullian, Treatise on the Soul]
Arguments for the Corporeal Nature of the Soul (Nemesius, The Nature of Man)
The arguments of Cleanthes the Stoic affirming the soul to be corporeal are here confuted logically and by demonstration. Chrysippus intending to maintained the same view is here likewise answered, and his Fallacies discovered. . . .
Cleanthes composes a syllogism [for the corporeal nature of the soul] in this manner. There is (he says) a likeness between us and our parents, not in respect to the body only, but in regard also of the soul, as in passions, manners, and affections. Now it pertains to a body to have in it likeness and unlikeness. Likeness and unlikeness cannot belong to things void of Body; Therefore the soul is a bodily thing. . . .
Cleanthes, thus frames another argument. No incorporeal thing (he says) can suffer together with a thing corporeal; neither can a bodily-thing, suffer with such a thing as has no body; but, things corporeal, only, may suffer one with another. Now it is evident, that if the body be diseased, and wounded, the soul suffers grief with it; The body suffers also with the soul. For, when the mind is afflicted by shame, the body blushes, and when the mind fears, the body looks pale. Therefore the soul is a corporeal thing. . . .
Chrysippus argues as follows. Death is a separation of the soul from the body. Now, nothing void of body is separated from a body, because, an incorporeal thing cannot be touched (or laid even along) by a corporeal thing: But the soul touches, and is equally touched by the body, and is also separated from the same. Therefore, the soul is a corporeal-essence.
Bodies and Souls both Dissolve upon Death (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 4)
If souls continue to exist, how does the air contain them from eternity? But we may similarly ask how does the earth contain the bodies of those who have been buried from time so remote? For as here the mutation of these bodies after a certain time span, whatever it may be, and their dissolution makes room for other dead bodies. So too the souls that travel into the air after existing for some time are transmuted and diffused, and assume a fiery nature by being received into the seminal intelligence of the universe. In this way make room for the fresh souls that come to dwell there. This is the answer that a man might give on the hypothesis of souls continuing to exist. But we must not only think of the number of bodies which are thus buried, but also of the number of animals which are daily eaten by us and the other animals. For what a number is consumed, and thus in a manner buried in the bodies of those who feed on them! Nevertheless this earth receives them by reason of the changes of these bodies into blood, and the transformations into the aerial or the fiery element.
ETHICS (Diogenes Laertius, Lives, 7.51-65)
Divisions of Ethics
51.The ethical part of philosophy they divide into (1) the topic of inclination, (2) the topic of good and bad, (3) the topic of the passions, (4) the topic of virtue, (5) the topic of the chief good, (6) the topic of the primary value of actions, (7) the topic of duties or what is appropriate, and (8) the topic of encouragements to and discouragements from acting. . . .
Natural Inclinations in Plants, Animals and Rational Animals
52. They say that the first inclination which an animal has is to protect itself, as nature brings herself to take an interest in it from the beginning, as Chrysippus affirms in the first book of his treatise on Ends. Accordinly, he says that the first and dearest object to every animal is its own existence, and its consciousness of that existence. For, it is not natural for any animal to be alienated from itself, or even to be brought into such a state as to be indifferent to itself, being neither alienated from nor interested in itself. It remains. therefore, that we must assert that nature has bound the animal to itself by the greatest unanimity and affection; for by that means it repels all that is injurious, and attracts all that is akin to it and desirable. But as for what some people say, that the first inclination of animals is to pleasure, they say what is false. For they say that pleasure, if there be any such thing at all, is an accessory only, which, nature, having sought it out by itself, as well as those things which are adapted to its constitution, receives incidentally in the same manner as animals are pleased, and plants made to flourish.
Moreover, they say, nature makes no difference between animals and plants, when it regulates them so as to leave them without voluntary motion or sense. Some things also take place in humans in the same manner as in plants. But, as inclination in animals tends chiefly to the point of making them pursue what is appropriate to them, we may say that their inclinations are regulated by nature. As reason is given to rational animals according to a more perfect principle, it follows, that to live correctly according to reason, is properly predicated of those who live according to nature. For nature is, so to speak, the artist who produces the inclination.
53. For this reason Zeno was the first writer who said (in his treatise on the Nature of Man) that the chief good was admittedly to live according to nature. This means living according to virtue, for nature leads us to this point. (Cleanthes speaks similarly in his treatise on Pleasure, and so do Posidonius and Hecaton in their essays on Ends as the Chief Good). Again, to live according to virtue is the same thing as living according to one's experience of those things which happen by nature (as Chrysippus explains it in the first book of his treatise on the Chief Good). For our individual natures are all parts of universal nature. For this reason, the chief good is to live in a manner corresponding to nature, and that means corresponding to one's own nature and to universal nature. It also means doing none of those things that the common law of mankind is in the habit of forbidding. This “common law” is identical with that right reason which pervades everything, being the same with Jupiter, who is the regulator and chief manager of all existing things.
Again, this very thing is the virtue of the happy man and the perfect happiness of life when everything is done according to a harmony with the genius of each individual with reference to the will of the universal governor and manager of all things. . . .
Virtues: Intellectual and Nonintellectual, Primary and Secondary
54. Generally speaking, virtue is a perfection in everything, such as with a statue. Virtue may be non-intellectual, like good health, or intellectual, like good judgment. For Hecaton says (in the first book of his treatise on Virtues), that the scientific and speculative virtues are those that have a constitution theoretical principles, as, for instance, good judgment and justice. Those which are not non-intellectual are those which are generally viewed as parallel to and the practical result or effect of the former; such as health and strength. Accordingly, temperance is one of the intellectual virtues, and it happens that good health usually follows it, and is aligned, so to speak, beside it. This is just as strength follows the proper structure of an arch. The non-intellectual virtues derive their name from the fact that they do not proceed assent from intelligence. Rather, they are derived from others, are only accessories, and are found even in worthless people, as in the case of good health courage. Posidonius (in the first book of his treaties on Ethics) says that the great proof of the reality of virtue is that Socrates, Diogenes, and Antisthenes made great improvement; and the great proof of the reality of vice may be found in the fact of its being opposed to virtue. . . .
Among the virtues some are primitive and some are derived. The primitive [primary] ones are good judgment, courage, justice, and temperance. Subordinate [secondary] to these, as a kind of species contained in them, are magnanimity, continence, endurance, presence of mind, wisdom in council. The Stoics define good judgment as a knowledge of what is good, and bad, and indifferent. Justice is a knowledge of what ought to be chosen, what ought to be avoided, and what is indifferent. Magnanimity is a knowledge of engendering a lofty habit, superior to all such accidents as happen to all men indifferently, whether they be good or bad. Continence they consider to be a disposition which never abandons right reason, or a habit which never submits to pleasure. Endurance they call a knowledge or habit by which we understand what we ought to endure, what we ought not, and what is indifferent. Presence of mind they define as a habit which is prompt at finding out what is suitable on a sudden emergency. Wisdom in counsel they think a knowledge which leads us to judge what we are to do, and how we are to do it, in order to act becomingly. Analogously, among the vices there are also some which are primary, and some which are subordinate. For instance, folly, and cowardice, and injustice, and intemperance, are among the primary vices. Incontinence, slowness, and folly in counsel among the subordinate ones. The vices are ignorance of those things of which the virtues are the knowledge.
Mental and Non-Mental Goods, Honor as the Highest Good
55. Most generally, Good is some advantage. More specifically, it is either what is beneficial or not distinct from what is beneficial. For this reason, virtue itself, and the good which partakes of virtue, are spoken of in a threefold view of the subject. The first is good as a source of benefits, secondly, as goods that follow from benefits, such as virtuous actions, and thirdly, the agent himself who benefits, such as the good person who partakes of virtue.
In another way, they define the good in a unique manner, as being what is perfect according to the nature of a rational being as rational being. Accordingly, they say that such a nature is conformity to virtue insofar as virtuous actions and virtuous people partake of virtue. So too with the accompaniments of virtue, such as joy, gladness, and things of that kind.
In the same manner they speak of vices, which they divide into folly, cowardice, injustice, and things of that kind. They consider that those things which partake of vices, and actions done according to vice, and bad men themselves, are in some sense the evil. Its accompaniments are hopelessness, sadness, and other things of that kind.
56. Again, some are mental, others are external to the mind, and some are neither mental nor are external to it. The mental goods are virtues and virtuous actions. The goods external to the mind involve a virtuous country, a virtuous friend, and the happiness of one's country and friend. Those which are neither mental nor external to it are, for example, a man himself being good or happy. Similarly, with evils, some are mental, such as the vices and vicious actions. Some are external to the mind, such as having a foolish country, a foolish friend, or one's country or one's friend being unhappy. Those evils are neither mental nor external to it are, for example, a man himself being worthless and unhappy. . . .
59. They call the honorable the perfect good, because it has naturally all the items that are required by nature and because it is perfectly harmonious. Now, there are four species of this perfect good: justice, courage, temperance, and knowledge. For, in these goods all honorable actions are accomplished. Analogously, there are also four species of the disgraceful: injustice, and cowardice, and intemperance, and folly. The honorable is predicated in one sense, as making those who are possessed of it worthy of all praise. In a second sense, it refers to what is well adapted by nature for its proper work. In yet another sense, it expresses that which adorns a man, such as when we say that the wise man alone is good and honorable.
The Stoics also say, that the honorable is the only good (as Hecaton says, in the third book of his treatise on Goods, and Chrysippus asserts the same principle in his essays on the Honorable). They say that honor is virtue, and honor is also that which partakes of virtue. This assertion is the same as the other, namely, that everything good is honorable, and that the good is equivalent to the honorable, insofar as the one thing is exactly equal to the other. For since it is good, it is honorable; and it is honorable, therefore, it is good.
60. They hold that all goods are equal, and that every good is to be desired in the highest degree, and that it admits of no relaxation or heightening of intensity.
Indifferent things as Neither Good nor Bad: Health, Wealth, Strength, Nobility
They also divide all existing things into good, bad, and indifferent. The good are the virtues, good judgment, justice, courage, temperance, and the rest of similar qualities. The bad are the contraries, folly, injustice, and the like. Those are indifferent which are neither beneficial nor injurious, such as life, health, pleasure, beauty, strength, riches, a good reputation, nobility of birth; and their contraries, death, disease, labor, disgrace, weakness, poverty, a bad reputation, baseness of birth, and the like (as Hecaton lays it down in the seventh book of his treatise on the Chief Good, and he is followed by Apollodorus, in his Ethics, and by Chrysippus). For they affirm that those things are not good but indifferent, though perhaps a little more near to one species than to the other.
For, just as it is the property of the hot to warm and not to chill one, so it is the property of the good to benefit and not to injure one. Now, wealth and good health cannot be said to benefit any more than to injure anyone, and so wealth and health are not goods. Again, they say that something is not good which it is possible to use both well and badly. But it is possible to make either a good or a bad use of wealth or of health; therefore, wealth and good health are not goods. Posidonius, however, affirms that these things do come under the head of goods. But Hecaton, in the nineteenth book of his treatise on Goods, and Chrysippus, in his treatises on Pleasure, both deny that pleasure is a good. For they say that there are disgraceful pleasures, and that nothing disgraceful is good. That to benefit a person is to move him or to keep him according to virtue, but to injure him is to move him or to keep him according to vice.
They also assert, that indifferent things are so spoken of in two ways. Firstly, those things are called indifferent which have no influence in producing either happiness or unhappiness, such as riches, glory, health, strength, and the like. For it is possible for a man to be happy without any of these things. Also, it is from the character of the use that is made of them that happiness or uuhappiness depends. In a second sense, those things are called indifferent that do not excite any inclination or aversion, as for instance, the fact of a man's having an odd or an even number of hairs on his head, or his putting out or drawing back his finger. For, it is not in this sense that the things previously mentioned are called indifferent, for they do excite inclination or aversion. For this reason, some of them are chosen, though there is equal reason for preferring or shunning all the others.
Some Indifferent things are Preferred for Assisting in Natural Life
61. Again, among indifferent things, they call some preferred, and others rejected. Those are preferred that have some proper value, and those are rejected, which have no value at all. By the term proper value, they mean that quality of things that causes them to concur in producing a well-regulated life. In this sense, every good has a proper value. Again, they say that a thing has value, when in some point of view, it has a sort of intermediate power of aiding us to live conformably to nature. Under this class, we may include riches or good health, if they give any assistance to natural life. Again, value is predicated of the price which one gives for the attainment of an object, which someone who has experience of the object sought, fixes as its fair price; as if we were to say, for instance, that as some wheat was to be exchanged for barley, with a mule thrown in to make up the difference.
Those goods then are preferred, which have a value. With the mental goods they are ability, skill, improvement, and the like. With corporeal goods, they are life, health, strength, a good constitution, soundness, beauty. With the external goods, they are riches, glory, noblity of birth, and the like. Rejected things are, in the case of qualities of the mind, stupidity, unskilfulness, and the 1ike. Circumstances affecting the body include death, disease, weakness, a bad constitution, mutilation, disgrace, and the like. External circumstances include poverty, lack of reputation, ignoble birth, and the like. But there are qualities and circumstances that are neither preferred nor rejected, and thus belong to neither class
Again, with preferred things, some are preferred for their own sakes, some for the sake of other things, and some partly for their own sakes and partly for that of other things. Those which are preferred for their own sakes are ability, improvement, and the like. Those which are preferred for the sake of other things, are wealth, nobility of birth, and the like. Those which are preferred partly for their own sake, and partly for that of something else, are strength, vigor of the senses, universal soundness, and the like. Or, they are preferred for their own sakes, inasmuch as they are in accordance with nature, and preferred for the sake of something else, inasmuch as they are productive of no small number of advantages. The same is the case in the inverse ratio, with those things which are rejected.
Moral Duties as Actions in Agreement with Nature
62. They say that duty is that which is preferred and contains in itself reasonable arguments why we should prefer it, such as that it corresponds to the nature of life itself. This argument applies to plants and animals, since even their nature is subject to the obligation of certain duties. Duty (to kathekon) had this name given to it by Zeno, in the first place, because its name is derived from its extending to, or incumbent upon people. It is an action that is in agreement with nature. With actions that are done at the prompting of impulse, some are duties, and some are contrary to duty, and some are neither duties nor contrary to duty.
Those actions are duties which reason selects for us to, such as to honor one’s parents, one's brothers, one's country, to gratify one's friends. Those actions are contrary to duty which reason does not choose, as for instance, to neglect one's parents, to be indifferent to one's brothers, to avoid assisting one's friends, to be careless about the welfare of one's country, and so on. Those are neither duties, nor contrary to duty, which reason neither selects to do nor rejects, such as to pick up straw, to hold a pen or a comb, or acts of that sort.
Again, there are some duties that do not depend on circumstances, and some that do. Those that do not depend on circumstances include taking care of one's health and sense organs, and the like. Those which do depend on circumstances include the mutilation of one's body, the sacrificing of one's property, and so on. The case of those actions which are contrary to duty, is similar. Again, some duties are always such, and some are not always. It is always a duty to live in accordance with virtue. But it is not always a duty to ask questions, give answers, talk, and the like. This also applies to acts that are contrary to duty.
There is also a class of intermediate duties, such as the duty of boys to obey their masters.
Four Main Passions: Pain, Fear, Desire, Pleasure
63. The Stoics also say that the mind is divisible into eight parts. For, the five organs of sensation, and the vocal power, and the intellectual power (which is the mind itself), and the generative power, are all parts of the mind. But falsehood produces a corruption which operates on the intellect, from which many passions arise, and many causes of instability. All passion is itself, according to Zeno, an irrational and unnatural movement of the mind, or excessive inclination.
Of the general class of passions there are four kinds, namely pain, fear, desire, and pleasure (as Hecaton says in the second book of his treatise on the Passions, and as Zeno also says in his work on the Passions). They hold that these passions are judgments (as Chrysippus contends in his work on the Passions), for covetousness is an opinion that money is a beautiful object, and in a similar way drunkenness and intemperance are similar judgments.
Pain they define to be an irrational contraction of the mind, and it is divided into the following types: pity, envy, jealousy, resentment, heaviness, annoyance, sorrow, anguish, confusion. Pity is a grief over some one, on the ground of his being in undeserved distress. Envy is a grief, at the good fortune of another. Jealousy is a grief at that belonging to someone else, which one desires one's self. resentment is a grief at another also having what one has one's self. heaviness is a grief which weighs one down. Annoyance is grief which narrows one, and causes one to feel in a strait. Sorrow is a grief arising from deliberate thought, which endures for some time, and gradually increases. Anguish is a grief with acute pain. Confusion is an irrational grief, which frets one, and prevents one from clearly discerning present circumstances.
But fear is the expectation of evil; and the following feelings are all classed under the head of aversion: dread, hesitation, shame, dismay, panic, and anxiety. Dread is a fear which produces alarm. Shame is a fear of disgrace. Hesitation is a fear of coming activity. Dismay is a fear from the imagination of some unusual thing. Panic is a fear accompanied with a racing of the voice. Anxiety is a fear of some uncertain event. . . .
Five Ethical Paradoxes
64. They lay down the position that all offences are equal (as Chrysippus argues in the fourth book of his Ethical Questions, and so say Persaeus and Zeno). For if one thing that is true is not more true than another thing that is true, neither is one thing that is false more false than another thing that is false. So too, one deceit is not greater than another, nor one sin than another. For the man who is a hundred furlongs from Canopus, and the man who is only one, are both equally not in Canopus. So too, he who commits a greater sin, and he who commits a less, are both equally not in the right path. . . .
They say, that not only are the wise free, but that they are also kings, since kingly power is an irresponsible dominion, which can only exist in the case of the wise man (as Chrysippus says in his treatise on the Proper Application of his Terms made by Zeno). For he says that a ruler ought to give decisions on good and evil, and that none of the wicked understand these things. In the same way, they assert that they are the only people who are fit to be magistrates or judges, or orators, and that none of the bad are qualified for these tasks. Moreover, that they are free from all error, in consequence of their not being prone to any wrong actions. Also, that they are unconnected with injury, for that they never injure anyone else, nor themselves. Also, that they are not pitiful, and that they never make allowance for any one; for that they do not relax the punishments appointed by law, since yielding, and pity, and mercifulness itself, never exist in any of their souls, so as to induce an affectation of kindness in respect, of punishment; nor do they ever think any punishment too severe. . . .
Again, they say that all the foolish are mad; for that they are not prudent, and madness is equivalent to folly in every one of its actions. But the wise man does everything properly, just as we say that Ismenias can play every piece of flute-music well. Also, they say that everything belongs to the wise man, for that the law has given them perfect and universal power; but some things also are said to belong to the wicked, just in the same manner as some things are said to belong to the unjust, or as a house is said to belong to a city in a different sense from that in which a thing belongs to the person who uses it.
65. They say that virtues mutually follow each other, and he who has one has all. For the precepts of them all are common, as Chrysippus affirms in the first book of his treatise on Laws; and Apollodorus, in his Natural Philosophy, according to the ancient system; and Hecaton, in the third book of his treatise on Virtues. For they say that, the man who has virtue is able to consider and also to do what must be done. But what must be done must be chosen, and encountered, and distributed, and awaited; so that if the man does some things by deliberate choice, and some in a spirit of endurance, and some distributively, and some patiently; he is prudent, and courageous, and just, and temperate. Each of the virtues has a particular subject of its own, about which it is conversant; as, for instance, courage is conversant about the things which must be endured: good judgment is conversant about what must be done and what must not, and what is of a neutral or indifferent character. In a similar way, the other virtues are conversant about their own unique subjects; and wisdom in counsel and shrewdness follow good judgment; and good order and decorum follow temperance; and equality and goodness of judgment follow justice; and constancy and energy follow courage.
Another doctrine of the Stoics is, that there is nothing intermediate between virtue and vice. The Peripatetics assert that there is a stage between virtue and vice, being an improvement on vice which has not yet arrived at virtue. However, the Stoics say that, just as a stick must be either straight or crooked, so a man must be either just or unjust, and cannot be more just than just, or more unjust than unjust; and that the same rule applies to all cases.
EPICTETUS: RESIGNING ONESELF TO FATE (Epictetus, Manual)
Things Within and Outside of our Control
1. Some things are in our control and others are not. Things in our control are opinion, aim, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own doing. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, political position, and, in a word, whatever are not our own doing.
The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, and unhindered. But those not in our control are weak, dependent, restricted, and dependent on others. Remember then that if you imagine that what is naturally slavish is free, and what is naturally another's is your own, you will be hindered, you will grieve, you will be confused, you will find fault both with gods and humans. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one, and you will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you will not be harmed.
Aiming then at these high matters, you must remember that to attain them requires more than ordinary effort. You must entirely abandon some things and for the present postpone the rest. But if you also desire power and wealth, it may be that you will fail to get them, just because your desire is set on power, and you will certainly fail to attain those things which alone bring freedom and happiness.
Therefore, strive to be able to say to every harsh appearance, “You are only an appearance, and not absolutely the thing you appear to be.” Then examine it by those rules which you have, the first and main one being this: whether it concerns the things which are in our own control, or those which are not. If it concerns anything not in our control, be prepared to say that it is nothing to you.
2. Remember that desire contains the hope of gaining that which you desire, and aversion the hope of avoiding that which you wish to avoid. However, he who fails to obtain the object of his desire is disappointed, and he who obtains the object of his aversion is miserable.
If, then, you confine your aversion to only those objects that are contrary to the natural use of your faculties, which you have in your own control, you will never obtain anything to which you wish to avoid. But if you wish avoid to sickness, death, or poverty, you will be miserable. Remove aversion, then, from all things that are not in your control, and transfer it to things that are not within your ability to control. But, for the present, completely suppress desire: for, if you desire any of the things that are not within your control, you will certainly be disappointed. Of those which are desirable, and which it would be good to desire, none is yet in your possession. Your concern is with the impulse to act and not to act, even these you should exercise lightly, with gentleness and reservation.
Examples of Self-Restraint
3. With regard to whatever objects give you delight, are useful, or are deeply loved, remember to tell yourself of what general nature they are, beginning from the most insignificant things. If, for example, you are fond of a specific cup, remind yourself that it is only cups in general of which you are fond. Then, if it breaks, you will not be disturbed. If you kiss your child, or your wife, say that you only kiss things which are mortal, and thus you will not be disturbed if either of them dies.
4. When you are about to take something in hand, remind yourself of what type of thing it is. If you are going to a public bath, remind yourself the things which usually happen in the bath: some people splash the water, some push, some use abusive language, and others steal. Thus you will more securely go about this action if you say to yourself “I will now go bathe, and keep my own mind in a state conformable to nature.” Do the same with regard to every other action. For thus, if any interference arises in bathing, you will have it ready to say, “It was not only to bathe that I desired, but to keep my mind in a state of conformity with nature. if I am bothered at things that happen, then I will not have that conformity.
5. Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. Death, for instance, is not terrible, otherwise it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death that it is terrible. When therefore we are hindered, disturbed, or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to ourselves, that is, to our own principles. An educated person will lay the fault of his own bad condition upon others. Someone just starting education will lay the fault on himself. Some who is perfectly educated will place blame neither on others nor on himself.
6. Do not be prideful with any good quality that is not your own. If a horse would be prideful and say, “I am handsome,” it would be tolerable. But when you are prideful, and say, “I have a handsome horse,” know that you are proud of what is, in fact, only the good of the horse. What, then, is your own? Only your reaction to the appearances of things. Thus, when you behave conformably to nature in reaction to how things appear, you will truly be proud, since you will take pride in some good of your own.
7. Consider when, on a voyage, your ship is anchored. If you go on shore to get water you may along the way amuse yourself by picking up a shellfish, or an onion. However, your thoughts and continual attention ought to be directed towards the ship, waiting for the captain to call you on board. You must then immediately leave all these things, otherwise you will be thrown into the ship, with your legs tied like a sheep. So it is with life. If, instead of an onion or a shellfish, you are given a wife or child, that is fine. But if the captain calls, you must run to the ship, leaving them, and regarding none of them. But if you are old, never go far from the ship, otherwise, when you are called, you will be unable to come in time.
8. Do not demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do happen, and you will be at peace.
9. Sickness is a hindrance to the body, but not to your ability to choose, unless that is your choice. Lameness is a hindrance to the leg, but not to your ability to choose. Say this to yourself with everything that happens, then you will see such obstacles as hindrances to something else, but not to yourself.
10. When anything happens to you, always remember to turn to yourself and ask what ability you have to deal with it. If you see an attractive person, self-restraint is the ability you have to exercise against your desire. If you are in pain, you will find fortitude. If you hear unpleasant language, you will find patience. So, if you train yourself in these habits appearances will not carry you away.
11. Never say of anything, “I have lost it”; but say instead, “I have returned it.” Is your child dead? It is returned. Is your wife dead? She is returned. Is your estate taken away? Well, is not this likewise returned? But you say “he who took it away is an evil person.” What difference is it to you who the giver assigns to take it back? While he gives it to you to possess, take care of it. But do not view it as your own, just as travelers view an inn.
12. If you want to improve, reject the following type of reasoning. “If I neglect my affairs, I will have no income, and if I do not punish my son, he will be bad.” For, it is better to die with hunger, and be free from grief and fear, than to live in affluence with uneasiness. It is better that your son should be bad, than you unhappy.
So, start from small things. Did a little oil spill? Was a little wine stolen? Say to yourself, “This is the price paid for being without passion (apatheia), for tranquility (ataraxia), and nothing can be gained without a price.” When you call your servant, it is possible that he may not come, or, if he does, he may not do what you want. But he is in no way of such importance that it should be in his power to give you any disturbance.t
13. If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid with regard to external things. Do not wish to be thought to know anything; and even if you appear to be somebody important to others, distrust yourself. For, it is difficult to both keep your faculty of choice in a state conformable to nature, and at the same time acquire external things. But while you are careful about the one, you must of necessity neglect the other.
14. If you wish your children, your wife, or your friends to live forever, you are foolish. For, you wish to be in control of things which you cannot control, and you wish for things that belong to others to be your own. So likewise, if you wish your servant to make no mistakes, you are a fool, for you want vice not to be vice, but something else. But, if you wish to avoid disappointment with your desires, this is in your own control.
Exercise what is in your control. Your master is the person who is able to give or take away whatever that person wishes either to have or to avoid. Whoever wishes to be free should neither wish for or decline something that depends on others, otherwise he will certainly be a slave.
15. Remember that you must behave in life as at a dinner party. Is anything brought around to you? Put out your hand and take your portion with moderation. Does it pass by you? Do not stop it. Has it not yet arrived? Do not stretch your desire towards it, but wait until it reaches you. Do this with regard to children, to a wife, to vocations, to riches, and you will eventually be a worthy partner of the feasts of the gods. If you do not even take the things that are set before you, but are able even to reject them, then you will not only be a partner at the feasts of the gods, but also of their empire. For, by doing this, Diogenes, Heraclitus and others like them, deservedly became, and were called, divine.
16. When you see anyone crying in grief, either because his son has moved away or died, or the man has lost his property, be careful that you are not carried away by the impression that it is outward ills that make him miserable. But instead make a distinction in your mind and be ready to say, “What hurts this man is not this occurrence itself, since someone else might not be hurt by it, but the view he chooses to take of it.” As far as conversation goes, however, be willing to show him sympathy, and, if necessary, cry with him. However, be careful not to cry inwardly, too.
17. Remember that you are an actor in a drama that depends upon the judgment of the author. If he wants it short then it is short, if long then it is long. If he wants you to act the part of a poor man, a cripple, a governor, or a private person, see that you act it naturally. For it is your job to act well the role that is assigned to you, while it is another’s job to choose your role.
SENECA: CONTROLLING ANGER (Seneca, On Anger)
The Harm and Unnaturalness of Anger
1.1. You have asked me, Novatus, to write about how anger may be calmed, and it appears to me that you are right in feeling especial fear of this passion, which is more than all others hideous and wild. The others have some blend of peace and quiet, but this consists entirely in action and the impulse of grief, raging with an utterly inhuman lust for combat, blood and torture. It is reckless towards itself so long as it hurts another, rushing upon the very tip of the sword. It is greedy for revenge even when it drags the avenger to ruin with itself. Because of this, some of the wisest of men have called anger a brief madness. . . .
1.2. Next, if you choose to view its results and the mischief that it does, no plague has cost the human race more dear. You will see slaughterings and poisonings, accusations and counter-accusations, sacking of cities, ruin of whole peoples, the persons of princes sold into slavery by auction, torches applied to roofs, and fires not merely confined within city-walls but making whole tracts of country glow with hostile flame. The foundations of the greatest cities are now barely perceivable: they were ruined by anger. See deserts extending for many miles without an inhabitant: they have been desolated by anger. . .
1.5. Whether anger is natural will become evident if we consider human nature. What is more gentle than man while he is in the proper state of mind, yet what is more cruel than anger? What is more affectionate to others than man, yet what is more savage against them than anger? Mankind is born for mutual assistance, anger for mutual ruin. The former loves society, the latter alienation. The one loves to do good, the other to do harm. The one helps even strangers, the other attacks even its dearest friends. The one is even ready to sacrifice itself for the good of others, the other to plunge into peril provided it drags others with it. Who, then, can be more ignorant of nature than he who attributes this cruel and hurtful vice to nature’s best and most perfect work? Anger, as we have said, is eager to punish, yet it is far from man’s nature that it should desire should exist in man's peaceful breast. For human life is founded on benefits and harmony, and is bound together into an alliance for the common help of all. This is not through terror, but through love towards one another. . . .
Learning to Willfully Control Anger
2.2. What is the purpose of this inquiry, you may ask? It is that we may know what anger is. For if it rises up against our will, it never will submit to reason. All the motions which take place without our volition are beyond our control and unavoidable, such as shivering when cold when water is poured over us, or recoiling when we are touched in certain places. Men's hair rises up at bad news, their faces blush at indecent words, and they are seized with dizziness when looking down a cliff. Since it is not in our power to prevent any of these things, no reasoning can prevent them from taking place. But anger can be chased away though sensible advice. For, it is a voluntary defect of the mind, and not one of those things that are evolved by the conditions of human life, and which, therefore, may happen even to the wisest of us. . . .
2.10. What room is there for anger? Everything ought either to move us to tears or to laughter. The wise man will not be angry with the wicked. Why not? Because he knows that no one is born wise, but becomes so. He knows that very few wise men are produced in any age, because he thoroughly understands the circumstances of human life. Now, no sane man is angry with nature: for what should we say if a man chose to be surprised that fruit did not hang on the thickets of a forest, or to wonder at bushes and thorns not being covered with some useful berry? No one is angry when nature excuses a defect. The wise man, therefore, being tranquil, and dealing openly with mistakes, is not an enemy to the wicked but their improver, will go out every day in the following frame of mind. "Many men will meet me who are drunkards, lustful, ungrateful, greedy, and excited by the frenzy of ambition." He will view all these as nonthreateningly as a physician does his patients. When a captain’s ship leaks freely through its opened seams, does he become angry with the sailors or the ship itself? No. Rather, he tries to fix it. He shuts out some water, bales out some other, closes all the holes that he can see, and by ceaseless labor counteracts those which are out of sight and which let water into the hold. Nor does he relax his efforts because as much water as he pumps out runs in again. We need a sustained struggle against permanent and prolific evils, not, indeed, to defeat them, but merely to prevent their overpowering us. . . .
3.34. Come now, let us list the other causes of anger: they are food, drink, and the showy apparatus connected with them, words, insults, disrespectful movements of the body, suspicions, obstinate cattle, lazy slaves, and spiteful construction put upon other men's words. Thus, even the gift of language to mankind becomes counted among the wrongs of nature. Believe me, the things which cause us such great passion are trivial, the sort of things that children fight and squabble over. There is nothing serious, nothing important in all that we do with such gloomy faces. It is, I repeat, the setting a great value on trivialities that is the cause of your anger and madness. This man wanted to rob me of my inheritance, that one has accused me in front of persons whom I had long courted with great expectations, that one has desired my lover. A wish for the same things, which ought to have been a bond of friendship, becomes a source of arguments and hatred. A narrow path causes quarrels among those who pass up and down it. A wide and broadly spread road may be used by whole tribes without bumping. Those objects of desire of yours cause strife and disputes among those who want the same things, because they are petty, and cannot be given to one man without being taken away from another.
Questions for Review
1. In the section on stoic logic, what are some features of the stoic view of sense perception?
2. What is an assertable proposition, and what are some examples?
3. In the section on Stoic natural philosophy, what are some key features of the stoic view of the world?
4. What are some key features of the stoic view of God?
5. What are some key features of the stoic view of the eternal recurrence?
6. What are some key features of the stoic view of necessity and fate?
7. In the section on reconciling free will with fate and necessity, what is the principle of bivalence, and what potential implications does it have regarding fate and necessity?
8. What is the lazy man argument against fate?
9. Why does Carneades believe that divine foreknowledge is not based on bivalence?
10. What is Chrysippus’s rolling cylinder argument in defense of free will?
11. In the section on the stoic view of the soul, what are some key features of the soul?
12. Give one of the arguments for the corporeal nature of the soul.
13. In the section on stoic ethics, what are some features of the stoic view of natural inclinations?
14. What are some features of the stoic view of virtues?
15. What are some features of the stoic view of goods and the highest good?
16. What are some features of the stoic view of indifferent things?
17. What are some features of the stoic view of the passions?
18. What are the five ethical paradoxes?
19. What are some features of Epictetus’ view of resigning oneself to fate?
20. What are some features of Seneca’s view of controlling one’s anger?
Questions for Analysis
1. Stoics accepted that fate is a determining force in our lives, but at the same time attempted to reconcile that with free will. In their efforts to do so, they make at least some of these distinctions: (a) all future events are already either true or false (i.e., logical bivalence), (b) all future events are fated (i.e., part of a vast interconnection of causes), (c) all things happen by prior causes, (d) all future events are causally necessitated by physical forces. Chrysippus accepts (a), (b), and (c), and in his discussion of the rolling cylinder also makes the further distinction between external causes and internal causes. This, he believes, blocks (d) and allows for free will. Discuss Chrysippus’ position, particularly in his account of the rolling cylinder, and whether he succeeds (for help, do an internet search for “Chrysippus cylinder”).
2. In the section “Divine Foreknowledge not Based on Bivalence,” Carneades argues that the gods do not foreknow the truth everything (i.e. they do not have foreknowledge of all bivalent facts). Rather, the gods only have limited foreknowledge based on those events that result from physical necessity. Since free choices do not result from physical necessity, then there are many such events that the gods cannot know. Carneades thus preserves free will by rejecting total divine foreknowledge. In a previous section, he also preserves free will by rejecting fate. Is Carneades ’ argument and whether he succeeds.
3. Stoicism scholar Keith Seddon believes that Chrysippus’s critique of the lazy man argument fails: “Though seeing this doesn’t to any degree undermine the fatalist’s position, for just as your recovering was fated (if only you had known it), so was your calling the doctor! This might be how it happened, all right, but if the event of your calling the doctor was caused by prior circumstances (as all events are, according to the theory of causal determinism) then in what sense could you be considered to exercise your free will?” (“Do the Stoics Succeed” 2004). Discuss Seddon’s point and how Chrysippus might respond.
4. Adam Smith criticizes the Stoic view that since everything is divinely fated, then even human vice is a necessary part of the plan of the universe: “The ancient stoics were of opinion, that as the world was governed by the all-ruling providence of a wise, powerful, and good God, every single event ought to be regarded, as making a necessary part of the plan of the universe, and as tending to promote the general order and happiness of the whole: that the vices and follies of mankind, therefore, made as necessary a part of this plan as their wisdom or their virtue; and by that eternal art which educes good from ill, were made to tend equally to the prosperity and perfection of the great system of nature. No speculation of this kind, however, how deeply soever it might be rooted in the mind, could diminish our natural abhorrence for vice, whose immediate effects are so destructive, and whose remote ones are too distant to be traced by the imagination.” (Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759, 1.2.3.) Explain Smith’s point and how the stoics might respond.
5. Hume criticizes Epictetus on the grounds that self-restraint can be just another form of self-indulgence. “It is certain that, while we aspire to the magnanimous firmness of the philosophic sage, and endeavour to confine our pleasures altogether within our own minds, we may, at last, render our philosophy like that of Epictetus, and other Stoics, only a more refined system of selfishness, and reason ourselves out of all virtue as well as social enjoyment.” (Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1748, 5). Discuss Hume’s point and how Epictetus might respond.
6. Henry Sidgwick criticizes that the stoic view of “living according to nature” is circular: “The most characteristic formula of Stoicism seems to have been that declaring 'Life according to Nature' to be the ultimate end of action. The spring of the motion that sustained this life was in the vegetable creation a mere unfelt impulse: in animals it was impulse accompanied with sensation: in man it was the direction of Reason, which in him was naturally supreme over all merely blind irrational impulses. What then does Reason direct? ’To live according to Nature' is one answer: and thus we get the circular exposition of ethical doctrine in its simplest form.” (Methods of Ethics, 1874, 13). Discuss Sidgwick’s point and how the stoics might respond?
7. Augustine argues that some stoics condemn compassion towards others, while others hold that it is a virtue: “The Stoics, indeed, are accustomed to condemn compassion. . . . But the eminent Stoic, Epictetus, quoting the opinions of Zeno and Chrysippus, the founders of the school, has taught us, they admit that passions of this kind occupy the soul of the wise man, whom they would have to be free from all vice. It then follows that these very passions are not judged by them to be vices, since they assail the wise man without forcing him to act against reason and virtue” (City of God, 9.5). Drawing from the above sections on Stoic ethics and Epictetus, discuss whether the stoics are for or against compassion.
8. In the following, Arthur Schopenhauer comments on the Stoic ethical view the dispensibleness of everything: “The Stoics held that the actual dispensing with everything that can be done without is not demanded, but that it is sufficient that we should regard possessions and pleasures constantly as dispensable, and as held in the hand of chance; for then the actual deprivation of them, if it should chance to occur, would neither be unexpected nor fall heavily. One might always have and enjoy everything; only one must ever keep present the conviction of the worthless ness and dispensableness of these good things on the one hand, and of their uncertainty and perishableness on the other, and therefore prize them all very little, and be always ready to give them up. Even more, he who must actually dispense with these things in order not to be moved by them, thereby shows that in his heart he holds them to be truly good things, which one must put quite out of sight if one is not to long after them.” (The World as Will, 1859, 16). Explain Schopenhauer’s distinction between actually dispensing with something and being prepared to dispense with something, and discuss which of these two best represents Epictetus.
9. Karl Jaspers criticizes that Stoics like Epictetus do not adequately deal with existential crises: “The ultimate situations – death, chance, guilt, and the uncertainty of the world – confront me with the reality of failure. What do I do in the face of this absolute failure, which if I am honest I cannot fail to recognize? The advice of the Stoic, to withdraw to our own freedom in the independence of the mind, is not adequate. The Stoic's perception of man's weakness was not radical enough. He failed to see that the mind in itself is empty, dependent on what is put into it, and he failed to consider the possibility of madness. The Stoic leaves us without consolation; the independent mind is barren, lacking all content. He leaves us without hope, because his doctrine affords us no opportunity of inner transformation, no fulfilment through self-conquest in love, no hopeful expectation of the possible.” (1951, Way to Wisdom, 2.) Discuss Jasper’s point and how Epictetus or other stoics might respond.
10. Epicureans and Stoics both make several references to food. Compare and contrast the type of dietary advice that each of these schools might give to someone who is trying to lose weight, and discuss which might be the best.