23 May 2009

Stoic Logic and Semantics. "Simple Propositions," Ch5.5.4.8 of Luhtala, On the Origin of Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic Simple Propositions

Selected Citation

In his work Sextus Empiricus uses the term (συμβεβηκότα, symbebekota) ('accidents'/'attribute') which permits us to speculate on the survival of Peripatetic terminology in Stoic usage. According to Sextus,
the definite proposition such as 'this one is sitting' or 'this one is walking' is said by them (the dialecticians) to be true (υπάρχειν, uparchein) whenever the predicate, such as 'sitting' or 'walking', belongs (συμβεβήκε, symbebeke) to the thing which falls under the demonstrative reference (δειξιν, deixin).
(Adv. math. VIII,100 = SVF 2.205, tr. Long/Sedley 1987:204)
This doctrine is attributed by Sextus to the dialecticians but there is evidence of genuinely Stioc usage of this terminology. Stobaeus attributes to Chrysippus the following interpretation of κατηγόρημα (kategorema) ('predicate') and συμβεβηκός (symbebekos) ('attribute'):
Only the present exists (υπάρχειν, uparchein); the past and the future subsist (υφεσάναι, uphesanai); in the same way, as attributes (συμβεβηκότα, symbebekota), only the accidents are said to be the case (υπάρχειν, uparchein); for example walking (το περιπατειν, to peripatein) is true of me (υπάρχειν, uparchein), when I walk; but when I sit or when I lie down, it is not true.
(SVF: Stoicorum veterum fragmenta I-III. Ed. Iohannes von Arnim. Leibzig: Teubner 1905-24, 2.509)
Seneca associates the notion of accident with the feature of the predicate of being incorporeal and being an attribute of something else, 'accidens alteri'.

There would thus seem to be no reason to doubt the persistence of the Peripatetic notions of υπάρχειν (uparchein) ('subsist') and συμβεβηκότα (symbebekota) ('accidents') in Stoicism. They are associated with the ability of the proposition to assert truth or falsity in terms of some state of affairs being the case, and the predicate belonging to the subject at the time the statement is made. The examples of the use of these terms are 'intransitive' sentences, in which the two constituents pertain to the same referent and which show grammatical concord.

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

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