26 Apr 2017

Luhtala (CBS) On the Origin of Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic, collected brief summaries


by Corry Shores


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Collected brief summaries of


Anneli Luhtala


On the Origin of Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic


Ch.5 The Stoics


5.0 [introductory material]


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.



5.1 The Unity of Stoic Philosophy


Stoic philosophy is composed of a unified system where its three main branches – ethics, logic, and physics – are of equal priority in the system itself. They are all concerned with logos or reason, and more specifically with consequence, understood physically, logically, or ethically. Nonetheless, the Stoics thought that logic should be learned first.



5.2 Chrysippus, the Founder of Stoic Logic


Chrysippus’ great contribution to Stoic logic is of notable historical importance. He thought logic was the means by which all other studies can be conducted.



5.3 Sources


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



5.4 Evaluation


Stoic logic did not catch on, partly due to its focus on linguistics. It was overshadowed by Peripatetic logic until the 20th century. Only recently has it gained the respect and attention it deserves.



5.5 Stoic Logic



5.5.0 [introductory material on Stoic logic]


The Stoics regarded logic as being comprised of rhetoric and dialectic. Rhetoric deals with continuous speech, while dialectic deals with argument by means of question and answer. Logic and all its many subtopics are matters of logos / λόγος (reason, speech), which is the rational principle of causality in the cosmos and of right human action. Logos is also speech, and since humans have “internal speech”, they can think rationally about the logical sequence of things. Truth is a matter of correspondence between a statement, made on the basis of our “rational impressions,” and some specific event happening in the world. The Stoics in fact did not consider universals to be real things, and thus their logic was concerned primarily with particulars and almost never with universals, as in Aristotle’s logic.



5.5.1 Rational Impressions


We obtain rational impressions (λογικὴ φαντασία) from real situations in the world [which operates according to reason (λόγος)] leaving impressions (φαντασίαι) on the leading part of our soul (ἡγεμονικόν). The situation in the world has some rational sense to it, which is its “sayable” (λεκτόν). The same sayable corresponds to our rational impression, and that sayable can be rendered into a linguistic utterance, taking the form of a proposition, whose syntactical structure is isomorphic to the conceptual structure of the sayable.



5.5.2 The Components of Expression (Σημαίνοντα) and Meaning (Σημαινόμενα)


Stoic dialectic has two parts. Generally speaking, there is a part that lies on the level of language itself and a part that deals more with the conceptual meanings the language expresses. Specifically, the two parts are: {1} “expression,” equivalent to σημαίνοντα (that which signifies), to φωναι (vocal sounds), and to λέξις (word), and {2} “meaning” or “sayables,” equivalent to σημαινόμενα (that which is signified, meaning), and to λεκτά (sayables). The study of expression examines a heterogeneous set of related issues, including written utterances, parts of speech, poetry, definitions, and other various topics. The study of meaning, however, examines a more homogeneous set of logical sorts of issues, like propositions, sense (sayables), predicates, genera and species, arguments, and states of affairs. With regard to expression, ὄνομα means ‘noun’ and ῥῆμα means ‘verb’. With regard to meaning, these terms correspond with πτῶσις (case) and κατηγόρημα (predicate), respectively. Simple parts of speech, like nouns or verbs alone, are not able to take on truth values. This is only possible for sayables, which can be articulated in a propositional formulation, and thus truth and falsity are also matters of syntax, which is the meaningful combination of parts of speech. So “Dion” does not express a sayable, and it cannot be either true or false; however, “Dion walks” does and can, because its syntax allows it to represent a state of affairs in the world. Regarding the articulation of meaning, we arrange the relevant concepts in an order going from the most to the least conforming to the rational organization of the world. The world itself operates rationally, on account of its rational principle, λόγος. States of affairs (πράγματα) in the world thus have a rational sense to them, which is their sayable (λεκτόν). The verbal articulation that can adequately express the λόγος of the λεκτόν and thus of the πράγματα is also called a λόγος, but this time meaning an intelligible, articulate sentence. A step down from that is a λέξις, which is an articulate sound that might not even be intelligible, as with the famous example of “blituri”. Next down is  a φωνή, which is a sound that may not even be articulate (that is, might not even resemble a word with composite letters or phonetics).  There are two related sorts of speech acts: προφέρεσθαι (uttering), which is associated with the linguistic item φωναί (vocal sounds), and {2} λέγειν (speaking), which is assocated with πράγματα (states of affairs) and thus also with λεκτά (sayables). As we noted, while λέξις can represent a word for a real thing, it lacks the syntactical powers to represent a state of affairs. This is because real situations in the world have certain ontological properties that require more sophisticated syntactical mechanisms to be expressed. For example, the relation between a thing and its properties cannot be represented simply in a word but rather requires a syntax with a subject-predicate structure. Now, the sense of a state of affairs as the sayable (λεκτόν) is something incorporeal. However, as soon as it is vocally articulated into a propositional sentence, it has thereby taken on a corporeal form, because speech is corporeal, as it produces effects in the world. There is still another terminological distinction that divides meaning and expression into three units: {1} a corporeal sound (φωνήν), which is a signifier (σημαῖνον) {2} the corporeal sound’s ‘signification’ (σημαινόμενον), which lies in the intellect and is a matter of the sayable (λεκτόν) and is thus incorporeal, and {3} the referent (τυγχάνον), which is the physical object in the world corresponding to the signification and is thus corporeal.



5.5.3 Parts of Speech 


The Stoic’s identified five parts of speech: {1} ὄνομα (proper noun), {2} προσηγορία (common noun), {3} ῥῆμα (verb), {4} σύνδεσμος (conjunction), and {5} ἄρθρον (pronoun). By distinguishing proper noun, common noun, and pronoun, the Stoics were able to analyze propositions in terms of degrees of definiteness of the reference to the subject. A name or proper noun (ὄνομα) signifies an individual quality, for example, “Diogenes,” “Socrates.” A common noun (προσηγορία) signifies a common quality, for example “man” and “horse.”  A verb (ῥῆμα) signifies a simple predicate attaching to a subject, for example, “I write” and “I speak”. And a pronoun points out a mere substance. The definition of the verb is special among the parts of speech, because it refers to the syntactical role the part plays. [The nominal parts make no reference to how that part relates to the other parts so to form a larger sentential unit with complex meaning, while the verb does do that, because it is said to attach to a subject.] For the subject to play a syntactical role and not just a grammatical one, that is, for it to designate a part of the proposition rather than simply a part of speech, it needs to be inflected, and thus its syntactical role is a matter of case (πτῶσις). Since the nominal parts refer to physical things in the world, they have a corporeal reference, but since verbs do not refer to physical things, they have an incorporeal reference. Substances and qualities belong to the four Stoic categories or genera: {1} ὑποχείμενον (substance / substrate), {2} ποιόν (quality / qualified), {3} πως ἔχον (disposition / disposed), and {4} πρός τί πως ἔχον (relative disposition / relatively disposed). For something to belong to the first Stoic category, ὑποχείμενον (substance / substrate) simply means for it to have the attribute of existing as a material object, without mention of its own qualities. Substance mixes with qualities, which are air currents and which, as corporeal, affect the substance. There are two stages to a substance being qualified: commonly and peculiarly.  Commonly qualified substance corresponds to the common noun, peculiarly qualified substance corresponds to the proper noun, and mere (unqualified) substance, although an impossibility in actuality, corresponds to the pronoun. Some confusions can result from the Stoic’s notion of the corporeality of verbal expressions. Since as expression as  physical event is corporeal, and since what it stands for is corporeal, we might regard the two corporeal bodies as the same thing, as with Chrysippus’s claim that when we say “wagon,” an actual wagon passes through our lips. Parts of speech serve their representational function either by pointing out or showing their reference (δηλοῦν) or by signifying it (σημαίνειν). Verbs signify either their predicate or something about the subject. Proper nouns and pronouns point out an individual quality. However, common nouns signify common qualities. They do not point out their reference, like proper nouns and pronouns do, because common nouns are not specific like these others are. Nouns and verbs, in their raw form [undeclined and infinitive] are mere parts of speech, and they do not refer to components of meaning in a proposition. However, when they are combined and modified such that the nouns have case and the verbs have finite conjugation, then they have syntactical relations and thus can refer to parts of a proposition’s meaning. Nouns, when declined, refer both to a corporeal reality, namely, the substance or quality, and to an incorporeal reality, namely, the specific subject of a proposition. Verbs, however, do not refer to any corporeal reality but only to the incorporeal meaning or sayable of the proposition’s predicate.

00002 The Component of Meaning (Σημαινόμενα)


For the Stoics, meaning (σημαινόμενα) is a matter of the sayable (λεκτόν). The sayable is the incorporeal, rational component of some situation in the world, that is to say, it is a state of affairs. Also, it is the propositional sense of a statement expressing that state of affairs, taking the form of either a full proposition with both a subject and a predicate or a bare predicate without a subject. There are two important definitions the Stoics give for the predicate: {1} it is a state of affairs construed around one or more subjects, or {2} it is a defective sayable which has to be joined to a nominative case in order to yield a judgement. The Notion of Self-Sufficiency (Αὐτοτέλεια)


[Recall from section that the sayable (λεκτόν) is the incorporeal, rational component of some situation in the world, that is to say, it is a state of affairs. Also, it is the propositional sense of a statement expressing that state of affairs, taking the form of either a full proposition with both a subject and a predicate or a bare predicate without a subject.] When a sayable has a propositional sense of simply a predicate (and thus it represents an incomplete thought), it is an incomplete sayable, and when the sayable has a propositional sense of both a subject and its predicate (and thus represents a complete thought), it is a complete sayable. Incomplete sayables leave a question in the hearer’s mind, while complete ones do not. For example, “Socrates writes” leaves no question, but “writes” leaves the question “who writes?”. An expression has self-sufficiency (αὐτοτέλεια) when it expresses either a complete sayable in its full subject-predicate form or when it simply refers somehow to the predicate part of a complete sayable. One way to determine if an expression is a sayable is if is sufficient (or maybe if it is simply complete). Another ways is if it truly corresponds to an actual state of affairs. Thus there is no consistent criterion for what constitutes a sayable. [Please read the quotations (at the link above), as I am quite possibly misunderstanding these distinctions.] Compound Predicates and the Notion of Action


The Stoics noted compound predicates, which are ones whose syntactical structures (namely, oblique cases) allow for the designation of a patient to the action. It is thus something like a transitive formation. But verbs by themselves are not thought of as signifying actions. Rather, actions are corporeal and pertain just to bodies and thus to nouns. Hence the actions are somehow a part of the agents and patients and are thus built into the nouns signifying these bodies (on the basis of the oblique cases of the nouns, which indicate the agent/patient relations). Verbs (and their predicates) designate the relations holding between these bodies and not the actions involving them.  Many nouns signify actions, as for example the noun “action” itself. So while normally we might find it odd that for the Stoics verbs do not represent actions, in fact this distinction allows nouns and verbs to maintain distinct sorts of senses. Stoic Predicate Types


The Stoics recognized a variety of predicate types, including {1} congruities and {2} direct, {3} reversed, {3} neuter, and {3} reflexive clauses. The Stoics may not have had a fully unified way to categorize predicates, as they took various overlapping views: {a} on congruity and incongruity, {b} on activity and passivity, and {c} on completeness and incompleteness. Of the commentators on the Stoic theory of predicates, Apollonius Dyscolus gives the most authentic account, while Porphyry, Priscian, and other commentators on Aristotle’s Peri hermeneias commit errors in their interpretations. Πτῶσις (‘Case’)


While the Stoic notion of case is not clear from our sources, we can see that it has something to do with the notion of subject, understood both linguistically and physically. As we can infer from Diogenes Laertius’ account of the Stoic predicate, we see that the subject is understood both linguistically as case πτῶσις [a noun that is joined to the predicate] and as the individual, physical subject in the world involved in the action [as either agent or patient] and in the state of affairs that we conceive it to be bound up with. This unity of the conception of subject indicates a unity in Stoic philosophy between their linguistic theory and their ontology. Stoic versus Peripatetic Notion of Subject


The Stoics and Peripatetics held different notions of the grammatical subject and of case. Specifically, the Peripatetics saw the nominative as a primitive or neutral sort of form of the substantive, with all other syntactically meaningful formations of that noun being case inflections of it. Grammarians used the metaphor of the other forms “falling from” the nominative form. The Stoics, however, saw all formations of the substantive as cases, including the nominative, with the metaphor now being that all these cases fall from a neutral form of the noun as it manifests abstractly in the mind (that is to say, in the mind we can conceive of the noun by itself, but as soon as we conceive its meaningful relations to other things, properties, actions, etc., it enters into syntactical relations and thereby takes on a case formation that indicates its syntactical role.) The causative case could be understood as indicating a body being acted upon by the state of affairs. The Status of Case (Πτῶσις) as Sayable (Λεκτόν)


For the Stoics, case (πτῶσις) is an item of meaning (σημαινόμενα). That is to say, it is a matter of incorporeal meaning rather than of corporeal expression. Thus case constitutes either a complete or deficient sayable. We do not have enough textual evidence to be certain how to classify it. It seems that most likely it is a deficient sayable, with one possible exception being the vocative case. The Proposition


For the Stoics, propositions belong to meaning (σημαινόμενα) rather than expression (σημαίνοντα). A proposition is a complete sayable because it asserts a complete state of affairs, and states of affairs are sayables. The Stoics’ concern with propositions was largely limited to propositional analysis, and so they were interested in how propositions are either true or false. This is determined by whether or not the state of affairs that they assert happens to hold for the indicated time and place [which was possibly limited to the present moment of utterance.] Simple Propositions


The Stoics discussed simple propositions using intransitive sentence forms with neuter predicates. In other words, instead of using transitive forms that indicate how one subject acts upon another, they instead used intransitive forms that state the properties or accidents of some subject. (Some example predicates are “sitting” and “walking”.) What is crucial and interesting in this discussion is the way this analysis of syntax relates to their metaphysics and correspondence theory of truth. They use the same term ὑπάρχειν to mean that something exists (or that something is the case) and also to mean that a proposition is true. Situations in the world (that are relevant to these intransitive constructions) are the case (exist) when to some subject properly belongs certain attributes. And, a proposition is true when the predicate holds for the subject. This is determined when in reality the stated thing indeed does bear the attributes indicated in the proposition’s predicate. The Pronoun


When the verb or predicate is first and second person, it can be omitted, because the subject is already clearly indicated in that verb or predicate formation. This does not work for the third person formation, because it is ambiguous as to its reference [it could be he, she, it, or one, and the referent of these pronouns may be not be specified.] This issue interested the Stoics because they had central metaphysical and logical concerns regarding degrees of referentiality and the predicate.



5.6 Stoic Physics


5.6.0 [introductory material on Stoic Physics]


In Stoic ontology, the broadest category is ‘something’ (τί, quiddam), and it is composed of two subcategories, corporeal bodies (σώματα) and incorporeals (ἀσώματα). A corporeal body is defined as what can act and undergo action. And causality between bodies involves their physical contact. The soul, sensations, virtues and qualities, and activities like walking and dancing are all corporeal bodies, because they interact causally with other corporeal bodies. In fact, even the divine, rational mover and source of all activity is corporeal. Only corporeals are said to properly exist, while incorporeals are said to subsist (ὑπάρχειν). Sextus Empiricus gives four types of incorporeals, and it is taken to be the standard list: void (κενὸν), place (τόπον), time (χρόνον) and sayable (λεκτόν). It is notable that this and other, non-canonical lists include linguistic items. [Cleomedes: time (Χρόνος), surface (Ἐπιφάνεια), sayable (Λεκτέον) and void (κενὸν). Plutarch: time (χρόνον), predicate (κατηγόρημα), proposition (ἀξίωμα), connection (συνημμένον), and combination (συμπεπλεγμένον).]



5.6.1 Corporeals in Stoic Physics


For the Stoics, a corporeal body is understood as the capacity to act and undergo action and thus is conceived in terms of causality. The Stoics were against the idea in Plato and Aristotle that incorporeals had causal efficacy. As we see from the sources, the Stoics understood incorporeals both linguistically and physically/metaphysically. And they understood statements as being incorporeals that express how some corporeal body has certain corporeal features, mentioned in the predicate. Statements do not refer to abstract generalities but rather only to concrete circumstances happening in the world. Thus when giving examples of statements, the Stoics used proper nouns instead of common ones. Also, for the Stoics, parts of speech are corporeal even though statements are incorporeal.



5.6.2 Action and Undergoing Action in Stoic Physics


For the Stoics, there is a twofold principle underlying all material events, namely: the active (τό ποιοῦν) and the passive (τό πάσχον). The notions of acting and being acted upon take on both a physical and a linguistic sense for the Stoics. This can be seen in the role of transitive forms in propositions describing causal situations. The transitive form requires both an agent and patient of the action, and this parallels the metaphysical requirement that every acting body have another body that it acts upon, when the first body is committing a causal action. We see this linguistic way of understanding causal situations in the Stoic textual sources. {1} Stobaeus, attributing to Zeno: Cause is a body, while what it causes is an attribute (συμβεβηκόσ) and a predicate (κατηγόρημα). {2} Stobaeus, attributing to Chrysippus: the cause is an existent (ὄν) and a body (σῶμα), while that of which it is the cause is neither an existent nor a body. The cause is understood as having the linguistic sense of ‘because’, while that of which it is a cause is understood as having the linguistic sense of ‘why?’. {3} Sextus Empiricus: a cause is a body, and it causes to another body something incorporeal. For example, the fire, a body, causes to the wood, a body, the incorporeal predicate ‘being burnt’. Here we see that the causal interaction of bodies involves the linguistic sense of a predicate. Sextus Empiricus also says that causes are expressible as nouns. {4} Clement: a cause is corporeal, and it causes an incorporeal predicate or sayable. In Clement we also see causes as being understood linguistically as nouns. Rare cases of other scholars associating Stoic causation with linguistic concepts can be seen for example in Mignucci and Frede, but Luhtala goes much further to show the relations between causes and nouns and between effects and predicates, and as well between the physically active and passive sides of causation and the grammatically active and passive parts in a transitive sentence formation.





[The older entry directory for this book is here, but it links to previous versions of the summaries.]




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




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