12 Apr 2009

Stoic Logic and Semantics. "The Components of Expression and Meaning," Ch 5.5.2 of Luhtala, On the Origin of Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic

Anneli Luhtala

On the Origin of Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic

Chapter 5: The Stoics

The Components of Expression (Σημαινοντα, Semainonta)
and Meaning (Σημαινόμενα, Semainomena)

Previously we noted that the Stoics divided dialectic into two parts:
a) 'that which signifies'(σημαινοντα, semainonta), or 'vocal sounds' (φωναι, phonai). and
b) 'that which is signified' (σημαινόμενα, semainomena), or 'meaning' (again, σημαινόμενα, semainomena), or 'sayable' (λεκτά, lekta).

[Note that Mates translates semainon (σημαινον) as the 'significans,' which is equivalent to the sign, signal, sound, or Zeichen. The sound "Di - on" is the significans for Dion. The semainomenon (σημαινομενον) he calls the 'significate,' and it is equivalent to the connotation, intension, sense, thought/concept, Sinn, or lekton (λεκτον). The significate is what the Barbarian does not understand when he hears the sound "Di - on." And it is incorporeal. Finally he calls tygchanon (τυγχάνον) 'that which exists.' It is the same as the denotation, extension, meaning, external object, or Bedeutung. In our example, Dion himself is 'that which exists.']

The 'word' (λέξις, lexis) is the articulate form of the 'vocal sound' (φωνή, phone). (70b)

Luhtala will call "expression" the component of
(that which signifies/vocal sounds/word).

And she will call "meaning" or "sayables" the component of
(that which is signified/sayable).

Aristotle merely distinguished two constituents of the proposition: ‘noun’/‘subject’ (ονομα, onoma) and ‘verb’/‘predicate’ (ρημα, rema). The Stoics however developed a much more detailed system. (71d)
True and false statements are made in the meaning component (σημαινόμενα, semainomena). (72c)
truth and falsehood do not pertain to individual words (φωναι, phonai) but to their combination. (72c)

Hence truth and falsity are part of incorporeal meaning. According to Diogenes Laertius,
Φωνή (Phone, 'voice') differs from λέξις (lexis, 'articulated sound'). Because, while the former may include mere noise, the latter is always articulate. Λέξις (Lexis, ‘articulate sound') again differs from λόγος (logos, ‘speech’ or ‘sentence’) because the latter always signifies something, whereas a λέξις (lexis, 'articulated sound'), as for example blituri, may be unintelligible, which a λόγος (logos, ‘speech’ or ‘sentence’) never is. And speaking/saying (λέγειν, legein) is different from uttering (προφέρεσθαι, propheresthai); for while vocal sounds (φωναι, phonai) are uttered, states of affairs (πράγματα, pragmata) are said, and sayables pertain to states of affairs. [Diog. Laert. VII, 56-57] (qt 72-73) [See another translation and discussion of Deleuze's distinction between the corporeal and incorporeal at this entry.]

Here we distinguish two types of speech acts associated with two kinds of linguistic items:
1) uttering (προφέρεσθαι, propheresthai) associated with vocal sounds (φωναι, phonai). These belong to the expression component; and
2) speaking (λέγειν, legein) associated with states of affairs (πράγματα, pragmata). As well, sayables (λεκτά, lekta) also pertain to states of affairs. These belong to the meaning component.
Diogenes of Babylon notes that both the articulate speech of discourse and raw vocal sounds come from the throat. He concludes that we do not construct meaning in our minds, but from deeper down in our bodies, in our hearts. (74a-c) Chrysippus makes the same argument. (74d)
Sayables could be uttered, but they need not be. Chrysippus says that they belong to the "preparation of utterance in the mind." (75bc)
But when sayables are actually spoken, they take the form of corporeal speech (λόγω, logo).
the rational impression (φαντασία, phantasia) comes first, then thought which is able to speak (διάνοια έκλαλητική, dianoia eklaletike) expresses its experience by means of speech (λόγω, logo). [Diog. Laert. VII, 49] (75c)
Stoics further made semantic distinctions in ontological terms. Phonetic vocal utterances belong to the corporeal sphere. Thinking and statement-making belong to the incorporeal sphere.
The voice (φωνή, phone) is corporeal, because it "has an effect." (75d) Diogenes Laertius writes:
For whatever produces an effect is body; and voice, as it proceeds from those who utter it to those who hear it, does produce an effect for whatever produces an effect is corporeal. Voice, as it proceeds form those who utter it to those who hear it, does produce an effect. [diog. Laert. VII, 55 = SVF, Stoicorum veterum fragmenta, 2.140 tr. R.H. Hicks; cf. Aet. Plac. IV 20, 2 = SVF 2.387 and Suda s.v. σωμα soma]. (qtd 75-76, emphasis mine)

For the Stoic's semantic ontology, there are three units:
a) the corporeal sound (for Mates: significans) ,
b) its 'signification' (significate), and
c) the referent (that which exists).
The corporeal sound and its signification belong to the domain of dialectic. The referent or "the object in the external world" is what activates our impressions. It belongs to the Stoic's physical theory. Sextus Empiricus describes these distinctions:
The Stoics defended the first opinion (according to which true and false is a question of the signification), saying that three things are linked together, 'the signification', 'the signifier', and 'the name-bearer'. The signifier is an utterance, for instance 'Dion'; the signified is the actual state of affairs revealed by an utterance, which we apprehend as it subsists in accordance with our thought whereas it is not understood by those whose language is different although they hear the utterance; the name-bearer is the external object, for instance, Dion himself. Of these, two are bodies the utterance and the name-bearer; but one is incorporeal the state of affairs signified and sayable, which is true or false. [Adv. math. VIII, 11-13, tr. Long/Sedley 1987: 195] (qt 76bc)

Luhtala explains that the authentic Stoic sources to not make such clear-cut distinctions. For example, the word "Dion" by itself cannot be true or false. Only a proposition like "Dion walks" can have that property. (77a-b)

Luhtala, Anneli. On the Origin of Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic. Münster: Nodus Publikationen, 2000.

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