4 Jan 2018

Goldschmidt ( Le système stoïcien et l'idée de temps, “Les divisions du temps sont déterminées par l’agent”, summary


by Corry Shores


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[The following is summary. Bracketed commentary is my own, as is any boldface. Proofreading is incomplete, which means typos are present, especially in the quotations. So consult the original text. Also, I welcome corrections to my interpretations, because I am not good enough with French or Greek to make accurate translations of the texts.]




Summary of


Victor Goldschmidt


Le système stoïcien et l'idée de temps


Première partie:

La théorie du temps et sa portée


A. La théorie du temps


III. La théorie du temps

Les divisions du temps sont déterminées par l’agent




Brief summary:

We sense that the present is durationally extending by sensing a currently ongoing activity whose duration determines the extent of its particular extended present. But strictly speaking, the present cannot extend, because then it would contain a little of the past and a little of the future. To understand the Stoic theory of time, we need to see that they understood time under two senses. There is real time as the extending corporeal present we sense, and there is the irreal time of the past and future extending infinitely in both directions. This infinite past and future, called the aiôn-time, is not real, because for the Stoics, only the present is real, as it is corporeal, and the aiôn-time is incorporeal. [So already we see that the extending real present borrows some of its composition from that of the irreal aîon-time, because otherwise it would have no durational thickness. Likewise] the aîon-time, by accompanying real corporeal actions, adds to its irreality a real counterpart, namely, the real present that expresses it through the activities happening at that time. [For example, Dion is walking presently. But walking cannot happen in an instant. So while presently walking, some part of the action is happening at the past-most part of the present, and another part of the action is happening in the future-most part. By combining these temporally distributed moments, the action expresses these irreal past and future parts of aîon-time, thereby giving the incorporeal aîon-time a corporeal embodiment and thus a component of reality that affixes to or “accompanies” its fundamental irreality.] The Stoics in fact considered periods of time, which we normally understand primarily in terms of an abstract interval that would seem to be incorporeal, as in fact being corporeal bodies. For example, a month is not simply the temporal interval of 27 or so days. Just as much as that,  a month is the corporeal reality of the moon, which is a body, moving once around the earth, in a corporeal activity of physical motion.





[The Divisions of Time Are Determined by the Agent]

[Sensing the Event That Fills the Extended Present]

[The Corporeal Contamination of Incorporeal Acts That Are Presently Enacted]

[Corporeal Time Periods: A Month as Moon Movement]

[The Coporealization and Realization of Time Periods]

[The Accompaniment and Contamination between Aiôn Time Intervals and Extending Active Presents]




Les divisions du temps sont déterminées par l’agent

[Sensing the Event That Fills the Extended Present]


(p.40: “« Selon les Stoïciens, on appelle sensation …”)


[In sum: We sense the specious present, but not directly. Rather, we directly sense some activity which has a present temporal duration, whose extent determines the length of the sensed present. (This activity is an incorporeal part of the incorporeal aiôn-time, but by means of it being presently sensed in its corporeal expression, it gives delimitation to the unlimited aiôn-time.)]


[Let us first note a quoted part of Diogenes Laertius’ Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, 7.52 (SVF 2.71):

Αἴσθησις δὲ λέγεται κατὰ τοὺς Στωικοὺς τό τ᾽ ἀφ᾽ ἡγεμονικοῦ πνεῦμα ἐπὶ τὰς αἰσθήσεις διῆκον καὶ ἡ δι᾽ αὐτῶν κατάληψις καὶ ἡ περὶ τὰ αἰσθητήρια κατασκευή, καθ᾽ ἥν τινες πηροὶ γίνονται. καὶ ἡ ἐνέργεια δὲ αἴσθησις καλεῖται.

(Copied from Perseus)


Aisthēsis (Αἴσθησις / [ἡ αἴσθησῐς]) is the Stoics’ name for the breath (πνεῦμα / [τὸ πνεῦμᾰ]) which extends from the commanding-faculty (ἡγεμονικοῦ / [τὸ ἡγεμονικόν]) to the senses (αἰσθήσεις / [ἡ αἴσθησῐς]), and for the cognition of which they are the instruments, and for their surrounding structure in respect of which some people get injured. The activity [of sensing] is also called aisthēsis.

(Long and Sedley 1987, I: 248, insertions between parentheses are mine.)


According to the Stoics, ‘sense-perception’ refers to [a] the pneuma that extends from the leading part to the senses and [b] the ‘grasp’ that comes through the senses and [c] the equipment of the sense organs (which some people may be impaired in), and [d] their activation is also called ‘sense-perception’.

(Inwood and Gerson 2008: 13)


Selon les Stoïciens, on appelle sensation(αἰσθήσεις / [ἡ αἴσθησῐς]), le souffle (πνεῦμα / [τὸ πνεῦμᾰ]) venant de la partie hégémonique (ἡγεμονικοῦ / [τὸ ἡγεμονικόν]).

(Goldschmidt 40, insertions between parentheses are mine)


] The Stoics call “sensation” the breath [or pneuma] coming from the leading part of the soul. But in this perceptual activity, the soul is not creative; for, it only assents to a representation/impression that is formed by corporeal reality impressing itself upon the soul. [The next ideas I will probably missummarize. I will guess at their meaning first, and then I will try to interpret them: (So the sensation does not directly limit the extent of the present; rather, it is limited by a real act that is grasped – or is graspable – by the sensation. The temporal extent of these acts, which are in the infinite aiôn, determine the extent of the real presents, just as bodies in the void occupy and delimit places.) I will guess this is saying the following, but I am probably wrong. We said that the extending present is something that is “grasped by sensation” (“saisi par la sensation”: see section and section The idea in these current passages might be that it is not the temporal extent of the sensation that limits the present; rather, it is the temporal extent of the act being sensed that limits the present. Perhaps that act is something happening outside us, like when we are watching Dion walking, and the extent of that act taken as a present act is the extent of the extending present that we sense. Or perhaps the act is something we perform. I am not sure what, but perhaps it is something like the act of taking in all the moments together under one present act of awareness. This might be something like the act of forming a rational impression (see for example Bréhier’s La théorie des incorporels dans l'ancien stoïcisme section 2.1.5 and section 2.1.6), and thus the duration of the act forming a singular rational impression corresponding to the activities in the corporeal world would be the extent of the sensed specious present. I am guessing. The next idea relates this structure to place and void. We discussed that partly in section, but our analysis was limited by the fact that we did not cover the appropriate previous sections yet. The idea in these passages might be the following, to take another guess. Void has no place or limitation unless something corporeal comes to fill it, thereby establishing place to the corporeal and limitation to its spatial extent. In the same way, the aiôn-time has no place or limitation, unless we sense an act that occupies a certain extent, with that extent being locatable within the aiôn-time, thereby adding to it limitations and temporal locations.]

« Selon les Stoïciens, on appelle sensation le souffle venant de la partie hégémonique »2 ; mais dans cette activité perceptive, l’âme n’est pas créatrice ; elle ne fait que consentir à une représentation qu’imprime en elle le réel3. Aussi n’est-ce pas directement la sensation, qui limite l’étendue du présent, mais bien une acte réel, saisi (ou saisissable) par la sensation. Cet acte, dans l’aiôn infini, détermine par son étendue, des présents ; comme le corps, dans le vide, occupe et découpe des lieux.


2. Diog. Laërt., VII, 52.

3. P. 23, n. 6.


[The Corporeal Contamination of Incorporeal Acts That Are Presently Enacted]


(p.40: “Par rapport à l’agent, toujours corporel …”)


[In sum: The incorporeal acts are not in themselves corporeal, but they become joined to and contaminated with the corporeality of the acting agents involved in the performance of those acts.]


[This again is difficult to grasp, so in the following I will be guessing still: The person who is partaking of these actions is always corporeal. (However, the acts, we said, were incorporeal.) The acts, by relating to the corporeal agent, (do not thus take a corporeal form, but rather) are simply manners of being. They are the comportment or behavior of the agent. And thus they do not affect the corporeal agent’s inner (corporeal) being. However, the corporeal agent of the actions manifests them through her behaviors. In fact, a body is defined by its capacity to act upon and to be acted upon (see Luhtala’s On the Origin of Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic section 5.6.1 and section 5.6.2; and see Bréhier La théorie des incorporels section 1.2. Goldschmidt cites Plutarch, Common Notions, 30, 1073 e: “they say that the universe is neither a body nor bodiless. It follows then from this that the universe has no being, since with them body only has a being. Since therefore it is the part of that which has a being both to do and suffer, and the universe has no being, it follows that the universe will neither do nor suffer”). Now, since this incorporeal act is understood as the comportment of a corporeal being, that incorporeal act comes to be taken almost as identical to the corporeal situation, or at least it can be said to be immanently expressed in that action. Now recall Chrysippus’ example of the walk that he uses to illustrate the existing and extending present (see section

Stobaeus, Eclogae I, 1.106, 5-23, part:

… no time is present exactly, but it is broadly said to be so. He also says that only the present belongs; the past and the future subsist, but belong in no way, just as only predicates {κατηγορήματα} which are [actual] attributes {συμβεβηκότα} are said to belong, for instance, walking around belongs to me when I am walking around, but it does not belong when I am lying down or sitting.

(Long and Sedley 1987: I, 304; II, 301-302. Curly bracketed insertions mine.)


… no time is present in the strictest sense but only in a broad sense. He says that only the present exists, whereas the past and future subsist but do not at all exist— unless it is in the way that predicates are said to exist, though only those that actually apply; for example, walking ‘exists for me’ when I am walking, but when I am reclining or sitting it does not ‘exist for me’.

(Inwood and Gerson 2008: 88.)


In these passages we see that the present which does exist is presumably the present in the extended or “broad” sense (see section But this is a bit ambiguous still, because the present in the broad sense includes a little of the past and the future, which do not exist, at least when the present is understood in the strict sense. So we get the sense from these passages that the incorporeal past and future do not exist unless it is by means of predicates, which are actions or events (see Bréhier’s La théorie des incorporels section 1.2) and which are expressed in corporeal beings. The temporal interval was said earlier in these passages to accompany motion and thus presumably also corporeal situations involved in actions: “time is the interval which accompanies the motion of the cosmos” (Inwood and Gerson 2008: 88). So the temporal interval that accompanies the acts cannot be simply and purely incorporeal, even though it in part is so. (We might say that the irreal incorporeal aiôn-time of events becomes contaminated with the real corporeal bodies involved in acting upon and being acted upon by other bodies.) There is another point, which is less clear to me. Goldschmidt notes that the activity is joined to and even identified with the leading part or principle of the soul, citing Seneca, Letter 113, 23: “Cleanthes and his pupil Chrysippus did not agree on what walking is. Cleanthes said it was breath extending from the commanding-faculty to the feet, Chrysippus that it was the commanding-faculty itself” (Long and Sedley 1987, I: 316); “… Cleanthen et discipulum eius Chrysippum non convenit quid sit ambulatio. Cleanthes ait spiritum esse a principali usque in pedes permissum, Chrysippus ipsum principale” (copied from wikisource). I am not entirely sure how the activity would be identical to the commanding faculty of the soul that is somehow involved in that activity. But we can at least see that this would imply a contamination of the incorporeal act with the corporeal soul.]

Par rapport à l’agent, toujours corporel, ses actes sont des manières d’être, son « comportement » qui n’en affecte pas l’être intime. Mais il le manifeste en tant qu’agent, et cela essentiellement ; l’être corporel étant défini par son pouvoir d’action et de passion4. Si bien que l’acte, envisagé, non comme simple comportement, mais comme le comportement d’un être, tend à s’identifier avec lui et à prendre corps. La promenade, que Chrysippe cite comme exemple d’un présent étendu et existant, est rattachée et identifiée au « principe hégémonique même »5. L’étendue temporelle qui « accompagne »6 cet acte ne saurait être un incorporel pur.


4. Plut., de comm. not., 30, 1073 e (S.V.F., II, 525) : ἐπειδὴ ὄντος τὸ ποιεῖν τι καὶ πάσχειν.

5. P. 23, n. 2. Aristote ayait allégué le même exemple pour illustrer l’ἐνέργεια (Phys., V. 4, 228 a 16-17).

6. Παρακολουθοῦν διάστημα (Arius Did., loc. cit.).


[Corporeal Time Periods: A Month as Moon Movement]


(p.41: “De fait, nous savons que Chrysippe a donné …”)


[In sum: For Chrysippus, units of time are understood corporeally. A month for example is corporeal, because it is the present corporeal motion of the moon around the earth.]


[We are considering how the time involved in an event, which would normally span outside the most immediate present and thereby be incorporeal, is conjoined to and contaminated with real corporeal present temporality. We find also that Chrysippus considers divisions of time to be corporeals in a certain sense.] According to Plutarch, for Chrysippus units of time like nights, days, months, seasons, and years are corporeals:

Plutarch, On common conceptions 1084C-D (SVF 2.665):

… remember Chrysippus’ similar approach in his Questions on physics book I: It is not the case that the night is a body and the evening and the dawn and midnight are not bodies; and it is not the case that the day is a body and the first day of the month is not also a body and the tenth and the fifteenth and the thirtieth and the month and the summer and the autumn and the year.

(Long and Sedley 1987, I: 306)


Χρυσίππου μνημονεύοντες ἐν τῷ πρώτῳ τῶν Φυσικῶν Ζητημάτων οὕτω προσάγοντος ‘οὐχ ἡ μὲν νὺξ σῶμ᾽ ἐστίν, ἡ δ᾽ ἑσπέρα καὶ [p. 357] ὁ ὄρθρος καὶ τὸ μέσον τῆς νυκτὸς σώματ᾽ οὔκ ἐστιν: οὐδ᾽ ἡ μὲν ἡμέρα σῶμ᾽ ἐστὶν οὐχὶ δὲ καὶ ἡ νουμηνία σῶμα καὶ ἡ δεκάτη καὶ πεντεκαιδεκάτη καὶ ἡ τριακὰς καὶ ὁ μὴν σῶμ᾽ ἐστὶ καὶ τὸ θέρος καὶ τὸ φθινόπωρον καὶ ὁ ἐνιαυτός’

(Copied from Perseus)


Il n’est pas vrai, si la nuit est un corps ; que le soir, l’aurore, le minuit ne soient pas des corps ; pas plus (qu’il n’est vrai de dire) que le jour est un corps, mais non pas la nouvelle lune, le dixième, le quinzième et le trentième jours du mois, de même que l’été, la fin de l’automne et l’année.

(Goldschmidt 41)


We should take these terms for temporal units in their literal sense; for, we see for example that the Stoics elsewhere are said to have defined winter in corporeal terms:

Diogenes Laertius, Lives, Book VII, Ch.1, 151:

“they describe winter as the cooling of the air above the earth due to the sun’s departure to a distance from the earth”

(Copied from Perseus)


Τῶν δ᾽ ἐν ἀέρι γινομένων χειμῶνα μὲν εἶναί φασι τὸν ὑπὲρ γῆς ἀέρα κατεψυγμένον διὰ τὴν τοῦ ἡλίου πρόσω ἄφοδον

(Copied from Perseus)


les Stoïciens définissaient l’hiver comme « l’air au-dessus de la terre, qui se refroidit par suite de l’éloignement du soleil »

(Goldschmidt 41)


According to Cleomedes, a “month” can be understood either in a corporeal or incorporeal sense:

Mèn is applied in four significations.15 (a) The [lunar] goddess is called Mèn when she is crescent-shaped,16 as is (b) the actual condition of the air between conjunctions (as we regularly say: “the month (mèn) has been humid or temperate”). Also called mèn are (c) the interval of time between conjunctions, and, finally, (d) the interval of 30 days (as in our saying that we have been out of town, or in town, “for a month,” without meaning in any way “from conjunction to conjunction,” but just the sum total of 30 days). The first two [entities]17 (the crescent-shaped goddess, and the condition of the air) are bodies, whereas the next two are incorporeal, since time itself is also incorporeal.18


15. For (a) and (c) see SVF 2.677, p. 199.30–34. For (c), the only astronom­ically significant sense (as lines 102–141 here show) see Gem. Isag. 8.1. For sup­plementary semantics see lines 148–149 below.

16. Mèn was originally a male Anatolian deity (Mannes), represented with a crescent Moon behind his shoulders. Similarity to -μην, the root of the word for “month” (μείς) seems to have led to the form mēn being applied to a temporal period.

17. In Stoic metaphysics they are termed “somethings” (tina); see, for exam­ple, SVF 2.331.

18. A “signification” (sèmainomenon) for the Stoics is by definition the incor­poreal meaning (the lekton; cf. I.1 n. 48), in contrast with a corporeal speech-act or the object spoken about; see SVF 2.166. It is being used in an extended fash­ion here to identify the reference of the word mēn in (a) and (b), as well as the | meanings in (c) and (d). Although the time intervals identified in (c) and (d) are called bodies in one Chrysippean quotation (SVF 2.665), the incorporeality of time can transfer to the time intervals as intervals, without reference to the bod­ies that determine their character; see Brunschwig (1988) 106. The point made in this text also applies to the instances of time intervals at II.1.150–151 and 182–183, and II.2.17–18. It shows the extent to which astronomy is being ap­proached from the perspective of Stoic philosophy.

(Cleomedes 2004: 149-150, bracketed insertions in the original, which here cites:

Geminus. Eisagōgè eis ta phainomena (Isagoga astronomiae) ed. G. Aujac (1975).

Brunschwig, J. (1988). “La Théorie Stoïcienne du genre suprême et l’ontologie Platonicienne.” In Barnes et al. (1988): 19 –127.

Barnes, J., et al. (1988). Eds. Matter and Metaphysics. (4th Symposium Hellenisticum). Naples.



Cleomedes. Month. Ziegler ed.p202

Cleomedes. Month. Ziegler ed.p203

(Cleomedes 1891: 202-203)


A month, then, can be still understood as a corporeal. According to Stobaeus, for Chrysippus, the period of a month should be understood as the moon turning its shining side toward us (“la lune tournant vers nous sa partie brillante”). [There is no English translation that I know of for this Stobaeus passage. I am not certain, but I assume it is the following:

Stobaeus. Eclogae I, 219-220:

Μεὶς δ᾽ ἐστί, φησί τὸ φαινόμενον τῆς σελήνης πρὸς ἡμᾶς, ἤ σελήνη μέρος ἔχουσα φαινόμενον πρὸς ἡμᾶς

(Stobaeus 1884a: 219-220. See S.V.F., II, 677 and Dox. gr., 467, 20)


Here is more context:

Χρύσιππος τὸ ἀθροισθὲν ἕξαμμα μετὰ τὸν ἤλιον νοερὸν ἐκ τοῖ ἀπὸ τῶν ποτίμων ὑδάτων ἀναθυμιάματος · διὸ καὶ τούτοις τρέφεσθαι. Σφαιροειδῆ δὲ ἕναι. Μῆνα δὲ καλεῖσθαι τὴν τοῦ δρόμον αὐτῆς περίοδον. Μεὶς δ᾽ ἐστί, φησί τὸ φαινόμενον τῆς σελήνης πρὸς ἡμᾶς, ἤ σελήνη μέρος ἔχουσα φαινόμενον πρὸς ἡμᾶς.

Chrysippus ignem de aquarum dulcium exhalatione post Solem collectum, ideoque iisdem ali, sphaericam autem habere figuram. Mensem quoque dici curriculi ipsius amitum, itaque vocari Lunae partem eam, quae nobis est conspicua; aut luna, quatenus nobis apparet.


Stobaeus. Eclogae. Anthology 1.GrkLtn.554.S

Stobaeus. Eclogae. Anthology 1.GrkLtn.556.S


Stobaeus. Eclogae. Anthology 1.GrkLtn.555.S

Stobaeus. Eclogae. Anthology 1.GrkLtn.557.S

(Stobaeus 1792a: 554-557)


This is another edition:

Stobaeus. Eclogae. Anthology 1.p.219.S

Stobaeus. Eclogae. Anthology 1.p.220.S

(Stobaeus 1884a: 219-220)


Using just Goldschmidt’s translation (“la lune tournant vers nous sa partie brillante”), I originally thought that the idea expressed here was that the moon was once understood to have one hemisphere that always stayed illuminated while the other remains dark, and the month-long moon cycle would then be the moon’s shining side turning away from us, until the new moon phase, and then turning back toward us until reaching the full moon phase. I do no know ancient Greek or Latin, so I cannot judge the texts. But I came to doubt that interpretation. Given how advanced knowledge was of the moon at that time, it could not possibly be how the moon phases were understood. In “Ancient Moons”, Oddone Longo writes, “... the light coming from the Moon is a reflected light, the light of the Sun, as Greek scientists guessed since the beginning: It was probably Thales, a Milesian philosopher of the 6th century B.c., who first maintained that ‘the Moon has no light of its own, but receives it from the Sun’; after Thales, the same opinion was shared by Anaxagoras, Empedocles and many others, down to Plutarch” (Oddone 2001: 238). And again, I cannot comment on the Greek or Latin. But I had the sense from the definition for δρόμον and curriculi that we are speaking of the moon’s circular motion around the earth rather than its rotation on its axis.  As I gather, the revolution around the earth takes a month. So if we look at this diagram from an Arizona State University page for one of their Astronomy classes ...


Moon phases sun .. 6268_fig03_02.source

(Source: http://www.public.asu.edu/~atpcs/atpcs/Univ10e/chapter03-01.html)


... we see that as the moon moves around the earth, when it is in the position at midnight where it is most “in front” of (or above) the viewer, it is full, and as it moves away from that position “behind” the viewer (at midnight), it wanes. And it waxes as it returns to that position directly “in front” of the viewer at midnight. (I still think I misunderstand it. This would seem to imply that crescent moons are not visible at midnight, or maybe that at midnight they can only be seen near the horizon, or maybe otherwise they can only be seen around dawn or dusk. So given my overall ignorance of astronomy and classical languages, my interpretations should not be trusted.) So perhaps the idea in the text is that a month is understood as the movement of the moon around the earth, which involves its disappearing and then reappearing into our night sky, and this appearing is a matter of it presenting its shining reflection to us. Regardless, the important philosophical notion here seems to be that a month can be understood either incorporeally as an abstract measure of time (around 27 or so days) or corporeally as an actual presently happening movement of a corporeal body. The abstract measure gets its real durational quality from the corporeal movement, but the corporeal movement borrows from the incorporeal aiôn-time the past and future which get contaminated in the real present.]

De fait, nous savons que Chrysippe a donné une interprétation matérialiste des divisions du temps : « Il n’est pas vrai, si la nuit est un corps ; que le soir, l’aurore, le minuit ne soient pas des corps ; pas plus (qu’il n’est vrai de dire) que le jour est un corps, mais non pas la nouvelle lune, le dixième, le quinzième et le trentième jours du mois, de même que l’été, la fin de l’automne et l’année1. » Ces termes doivent être pris dans leur acception littérale ; nous savons, par exemple, que les Stoïciens définissaient l’hiver comme « l’air au-dessus de la terre, qui se refroidit par suite de l’éloignement du soleil »2 ; de même le mois, pris, non comme détermination temporelle pure (et, en tant que telle, incorporelle)3, mais comme corps, c’est « la lune tournant vers nous sa partie brillante »4.


1. Plut., de comm. not., 45, 1084 d (S.V.F., II, 665).

2. Diog. Laërt., VII, 151 (S.V.F., II, 693).

3. Cléomède, de motu circ. corp. cael., II, 5, 112 (éd. H. Ziegler, p. 202, 11-23)

4. Chrysippe ap. Ar. Did., 34 (Dox. gr., 467, 20 = S.V.F., II, 677).


[The Coporealization and Realization of Time Periods]


(p.41: “On sait que Platon, à la suite des Pythagoriciens …”)


[In sum: While the Stoics do not necessarily divinize time periods like Plato does, they do still confer upon them the highest possible degree of reality by considering them to be bodies.]


Plato divinized such divisions of time as the seasons and the year. While the Stoics do not accept the mathematical inspiration of Pythagorean Platonism, they do confer to the divisions of time the most reality they can be given in their system, namely, the divisions of time are considered to themselves be bodies.

On sait que Platon, à la suite des Pythagoriciens, avait divinisé les divisions du temps, telles que les saisons ou l’année5. Les Stoïciens n’acceptent pas l’inspiration mathématique du platonisme pythagorisant, mais eux aussi confèrent aux divisions du temps le plus de réalité qu’elles puissent recevoir dans leur système ; ils les considèrent comme des corps


5. Voir notre Essai sur le Cratyle, pp. 129 sqq, et P. Boyancé, La « doctrine d’Euthyphron » dans le Cratyle, Rev. Et. Gr., 1941, t. LIV, pp. 147 (« cette divinisation des parties du Temps se retrouvera chez les Stoïciens ») sqq. ; La religion de Platon, Rev. Et. Anc., 1947, pp. 182 sqq.



[The Accompaniment and Contamination between Aiôn Time Intervals and Extending Active Presents]


(p.41: “ Par là, l’étendue temporelle qui « accompagne  »…”)


[In sum: the incorporeal temporal extent that accompanies the act is conferred a status of corporeal reality by means of that expression in corporeality. But since it “accompanies” the act, it still retains its incorporeal nature too.]


In this way the temporal extent that “accompanies” the act is given all the reality that that can possibly be conferred to it while never losing its incorporeal being. So incorporeal irreal temporal intervals derive their reality from their corporeal expressions. Plutarch notes this when he criticizes the Stoics for failing to recognize the essence of time and for defining it only as an accident, that is to say, as simply an accompaniment. [Plutarch writes: “an interval of motion and nothing more, as some of the Stoics define it, by an accident, not comprehending its essence and power” (Plutarch, Platonicae quaestiones, 8, 4, copied from Perseus).]

Par là, l’étendue temporelle qui « accompagne » l’acte, prend toute la réalité dont elle est capable, sans cependant cesser d’être un incorporel. Ce caractère dérivé de la réalité du temps est parfaitement souligné par Plutarque, quand il reproche aux Stoïciens de méconnaître (disons : de ne pas reconnaître) l’essence du temps, et de n’en définir qu’un accident (autrement dit, de n’y voir qu’un accompagnement)6.


6. Plut. quaest. Plat., 8. 4, 1107 a (S.V.F., II, 515) : (Le temps) “ διάστημα τῆς κινήσεως ” ἄλλο δ᾽οὐδέν ὡς ἔνιοι τῶν Στωικῶν ἀπὸ συμβεβηκότος ὁριζόμενοι, τὴν δ᾽οὐσίαν αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν δύναμιν οὐ συνορῶντες.



[Note: I will paste the Goldschmidt text below along with other sources, as there is a slight discrepancy; and note that in the other sources it is 1007 a]

Plutarch SVF 2.515 part from Goldschmidt.S



‘διάστημα κινήσεως’ ἄλλο δ᾽ οὐδὲν ὡς ἔνιοι τῶν Στωικῶν ἀπὸ συμβεβηκότος ὁριζόμενοι τὴν δ᾽ οὐσίαν αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν δύναμιν οὐ συνορῶντες.

(Plutarch 1895: 140, copied from Perseus)


Plutarch Moralia v6 p.140.S

(Plutarch 1895: 140)


Plutarch SVF 2.515.S

(SVF 1964b: 515)







Goldschmidt, Victor. 1953. Le système stoïcien et l'idée de temps. Paris: Vrin.



Also cited:


Cleomedes. 1891. Κλεομηδους Κυκλική θεωρία μετεώρων, βιβλία δυο. Cleomedis. Kyklikí theoría meteóron, libri duo. Edited by Hermannus Zeigler. Latin Translation by Hermannus Zeigler. Leipzig: Teubner.

PDF available at:



Cleomedes. 2004. Cleomedes’ Lectures on Astronomy: A Translation of The Heavens. English translation by Alan Bowen and Robert Todd. Berkeley: University of California.


Diogenes Laertius: Lives of eminent philosophers. Translated by Robert D. Hicks. 2 vols. London: William Heinemann / Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press 1950.

The Perseus Greek page for the Diogenes’ passages:





The Perseus English page for the Diogenes’ passages:






Inwood, Brad, and Gerson, Loyd P. 2008. The Stoics Reader. Selected Writings and Testimonia, edited and translated by Brad Inwood and Loyd P. Gerson. Indianapolis and Cambridge: Hackett.


Long, Anthony A. and David N. Sedley. 1987. The Hellenistic Philosophers, vol.1: Translations of the Principle Sources, with Philosophical Commentary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Long, Anthony A. and David N. Sedley. 1987. The Hellenistic Philosophers, vol.2: Greek and Latin Texts with Notes and Bibliography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Longo, Oddone. 2001. “Ancient Moons.” In Earth-Moon Relationships. Proceedings of the Conference held in Padova, Italy at the Accademia Galileiana di Scienze Lettere ed Arti, November 8-10, 2000, pp. 237-243. Edited by Cesare Barbieri and Francesca Rampazzi. New York: Springer.


Plutarch. 1895. Plutarchi Moralia, vol.6. Ed. by Gregory N Bernardakis. Leipzig: Teubner.

PDF at:


Online Greek text for De communibus notitiis contra Stoicos at:


Online English translation at:


Cited as:

Plutarch. Plutarch’s Morals. Translated from the Greek by several hands. Corrected and revised by. William W. Goodwin, PH. D. Boston. Little, Brown, and Company. Cambridge. Press Of John Wilson and son. 1874. 4

English PDF version available at archive.org:



Online Greek text for Platonicae quaestiones


Online English translation at:


Cited as:

Plutarch. Plutarch’s Morals. Translated from the Greek by several hands. Corrected and revised by. William W. Goodwin, PH. D. Boston. Little, Brown, and Company. Cambridge. Press Of John Wilson and son. 1874. 5.


Seneca. Epistulae morales ad Lucilium.

Available at:



Stobaeus. 1792a. Ioannis Stobaei Eclogarum physicarum et ethicarum libri duo. ad codd. mss. fidem suppleti et castigati annotatione et versione Latina. Pars prima. Physica continens. Edited by Arnold Hermann Ludwig Heeren.

Available through Google Play Books:



Stobaeus. 1884a. Ioannis Stobaei: Anthologium, vol.1. [Ioannis Stobaei, Anthologium Volumen Primum, Anthologii Librum Primum Volumen I: Libri duo Priores qui inscribi solent Eclogae Physicae et Ethicae] Edited by Kurt Wachsmuth. Berlin: Weidmann.

PDF at:



SVF. 1964b. Stoicorum veterum fragmenta, vol.2: Chrysippi Fragmenta Logica et Physica. Ed.  Hans von Arnim. Stuttgart: Teubner.

PDF available at:





Moon image source:












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