3 Feb 2017

Luhtala (5.0) On the Origin of Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic, “[introductory material]”, summary


by Corry Shores


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[The following is summary. All boldface and bracketed commentary are my own. Paragraph enumerations are also my own, but they follow the paragraph breaks in the text. Please forgive my distracting typos, as proofreading is incomplete.]




Summary of


Anneli Luhtala


On the Origin of Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic


Ch.5 The Stoics


5.0 [introductory material]




Brief summary:

There are three major Stoic philosophers: Zeno of Citium, Cleanthes, and Chrysippus. Zeno was influenced by the Cynics, Crates, Xenocrates, and the Megarian dialecticians. Cleanthes had some interest in logic. But Chrysippus made an enormous contribution to Stoic logic. Yet, some other Stoics stood against the study of logic.







[The founder of Stoicism is Zeno of Citium, who was influenced by the Cynics, Crates, Xenocrates, and the Megarian dialecticians.]


The founder of Stoicism is Zeno of Citium (333/332-262/261 B.C.). He began his teaching around 300 B.C. at the Porticoes [or the “stoa”], and he “was familiar with the teaching of several philosophical schools active in Athens at the time” (55). Among his influences are the Cynics, Crates, and Xenocrates. He also probably studied logic under the Megarian dialecticians (55).




[Zeno and other early Stoics were probably interested in parts of speech and syntax, but we do not have the details.]


It was not logic but ethics that Zeno was most interested in. However, a number of his lost works have titles that are related to linguistics (56). There are more clues that Zeno and other early Stoics were interested in syntax.

A passage attributed to Zeno by Epictetus suggests that a fundamental importance was assigned to linguistic aspects in all philosophical inquiry by the Stoics even at this early stage. According to this fragment, the philosopher's activity consists in “knowing the elements of speech (στοιχεῑα λόγου),75 what each of them is like, how they fit together and what follows from them” (IV,8,12 = SVF 1.51).76  Something like the doctrine of the parts of speech and their ‘syntax’ seems to have played a part in early Stoic philosophy but we are here in the realm of speculation.

75. Στοιχεῑα λόγου is an equivalent for the more standard μέρη του λόγου, ‘parts of speech’.

76. θεωρήματα τοῡ φιλοσόφου ... ἃ Ζήνων λέγει, γνῶναι τὰ τοῡ λόγου στοιχεῑα, nοῑόντι ἕκαστον αὐτῶν ἐστι χαὶ πῶς ἁρμόττεται nρὸς ἄλληλα χαὶ ὅσα τούτοις ἀκόλουθά ἐστι (tr. Long 1974: 111).

(56. From the bibliography, page 204:

Long, Anthony A. 1974. Hellenistic Philosophy. London, New York: Charles Scribner’s sons.





[The second leader of the Stoic school is Cleanthes, who was interested in logic.]


The second main leader of the Stoic school is Cleanthes. From the titles of his lost works, we see that along with his interests in natural philosophy and theology, he was also concerned with logic, including the notion of  λεκτόν (‘sayable’), which he used “in its typically Stoic technical sense as referring to the predicate” (56, citing Clem. Strom. VIII, 9,26,4. From the Bibliography page 197: Clemens Alexandrinus: Stromata. Ed. by Otto Stählin. Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte II-III. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag 1960-70.).




[Chrysippus is the third leader of the Stoic school, and he made an enormous contribution to Stoic logic.]


The third leader of the Stoic school is Chrysippus. What is notable about him is that logic took on a real importance in his thinking (57). Diogenes Laertius attributes to Chrysippus over three hundred works dealing with language. Many involve topics on the theory of meaning, including the issues of propositions, predicates, cases, and the elements of speech. And, “They also reveal the existence of a theory of meaning as set out in terms of the components of σημαίνοντα (‘that which signifies’) and σημαινόμενα (‘that which is signified’), which is standardly understood as Stoic logic” (57). Chrysippus’ contribution to Stoic logic was so great that Stoic logic for the most part has come to be understood as Chrysippean logic (57). He seems also to have broken from Aristotelian logic (57).




[Some Stoics were against the study of logic.]


But not all Stoics thought highly of logic. For example, Aristo of Chion thought that studying logic was futile and even harmful (57).





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




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