3 Feb 2017

Luhtala (5.3) On the Origin of Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic, “Sources”, 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


5.3 Sources




Brief summary:

There are no original sources of Stoic logic, and the second-hand sources are often unreliable.







[There are no original sources for Stoic logic. Diogenes Laertius is the best second-hand source, followed by Sextus Empiricus, Galen, and sparse references in logical and grammatical texts.]


All our primary sources for Stoic logic have been lost. We instead have late and fragmentary sources. The most important of these comes from Diogenes Laertius, and his is the only source that provides a systematic overview of Stoic logic (62). The next best sources are from Sextus Empiricus and Galen, although this material is less substantial. And besides these sources, there are only sparse fragments “in various grammatical and logical manuals” (62). But for the purposes of this book, Luhtala will examine “the entire framework of Stoic philosophy” (62).




[Our earliest texts regarding Stoicism as a whole body of thought come later in the 1st century AD.]


“The evidence for Stoicism as a whole is late, the best documented authors being Seneca (1st cent. A.D.), Epictetus (1st/2nd cent. A.D .)and Marcus Aurelius (2nd cent. A.D.)” (62). [Perhaps Luhtala is saying that our earliest sources that speak of Stoicism as a whole system of thinking are those mentioned.] These authors however were not interested in Stoic logic or physics but more so in Stoic ethics. Our knowledge of early and middle period Stoicism comes mainly from Plutarch.




[We should not be too trusting of our sources, as many were hostile toward Stoicism.]


We cannot entirely trust these sources, as many, like Sextus Empiricus and Plutarch, were hostile toward Stoicism, and also, “many of those who report on logical doctrine are not genuinely interested in logic” (62). There are other problems, like the incorrect use of terminology attributed to Stoicism but instead meant with Peripatetic or Platonic meanings (63).




[Given this situation, common practice is to regard all Stoic logic as Chrysippean logic.]


Given the lack of sources for other Stoics’ logical thinking, “The generally accepted practice is to assume that all Stoic accounts reproduce essentially Chrysippean views or views which he would have approved (Long 1974: 114; Frede 1974b: 9-10)” (63).






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



Other texts, cited by Luhtala:


Frede, Michael. 1974b. Die stoische Logik. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. (Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschafen in Göttingen. Philologisch-historische Klasse, Dritte Folge, 88).


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


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