31 Jan 2018

Goldschmidt (2.1.4.1.34) Le système stoïcien et l'idée de temps, “Divination et connaissance dans le présent, 1”, 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

 

Deuxième partie:

Aspects temporels de la morale stoïcienne

 

A

La Connaissance

 

Chapitre IV

L’interprétation des événements

 

I

L’interprétation a l’échelle cosmique

 

2.1.4.1.34

Divination et connaissance dans le présent, 1

 

 

 

 

Brief summary:

(2.1.4.1.34.1) The events of the world happen by causal necessity and are guided by God’s wisdom. This means that to interpret an event is to understand its place in a series of rationally ordered events that unravel in this ordered way. The practice of divination may not involve actually knowing the causes, but it can still operate by recognizing the signs of causes. (2.1.4.1.34.2) The image of the uncoiling of a rope that Cicero gives when describing an ordered time that can be divined is not about the (metrical or qualitative) homogeneity of time (like the geometrical “time-line”) but is rather about the idea that all events are from the beginning found together and that the temporal succession only deploys an initially given set.

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

2.1.4.1.34.1

[The Unraveling of Providential Destiny’s Coil and the Interpretation of Its Events through Divination]

 

2.1.4.1.34.2

[The Togetherness of Moments in the Coil of Time]

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

 

2.1.4.1.34.1

[The Unraveling of Providential Destiny’s Coil and the Interpretation of Its Events through Divination]

 

(p.79-80, “On sait que le stoïcisme identifie Destin et Providence...”)

 

[In sum: The events of the world happen by causal necessity and are guided by God’s wisdom. To interpret an event means to understand its place in a series of rationally ordered events that unravel in this ordered way. The practice of divination may not involve actually knowing the causes, but it can still operate by recognizing the signs of causes.]

 

The Stoics identified Destiny with Providence. This means that when we interpret an event, we are both assessing a causal explanation and finding a justification for it in terms of ends. This involves understanding its connectedness within the series of events that unfold as providential Destiny. Goldschmidt quotes Cicero’s On Divination Book 1, LVI, 127:

he who knows the causes of future events necessarily knows what every future event will be. But since such knowledge is possible only to a god, it is left to man to presage the future by means of certain [p. 363] signs which indicate what will follow them. Things which are to be do not suddenly spring into existence, but the evolution of time is like the unwinding of a cable: it creates nothing new and only unfolds each event in its order. This connexion between cause and effect is obvious to two classes of diviners: those who are endowed with natural divination and those who know the course of events by the observation of signs. They may not discern the causes themselves, yet they do discern the signs and tokens of those causes.

(Cicero 1923, copied from Perseus, boldface mine)

Here is the Goldschmidt text:

34. On sait que le stoïcisme identifie Destin et Providence5. En ce sens, interpréter un événement signifie indiffé- | remment l’expliquer (cause) ou le justifier (fin), en le rattachant ou, plutôt, en comprenant son rattachement à la série des événements que déroule le Destin providentiel « Qui tiendrait, en effet, les causes des événements futurs saur a nécessairement tout l’avenir. Cela, nul n’en est capable, excepté Dieu ; mais il reste à l’homme, d’après certains signes qui impliquent des conséquences, à prévoir l’avenir. L’événement futur, en effet, ne surgit pas brusquement, l’écoulement du temps d’un moment à l’autre ressemble au déroulement d’un câble qui ne produit rien de nouveau, mais qui déploie, à chaque fois, ce qui était auparavant. C’est là ce que voient aussi bien ceux qui ont reçu le don de la divination naturelle que ceux qui connaissent le cours des choses par l’observation ; s’ils n’aperçoivent pas les causes elles-mêmes, ils en aperçoivent au moins les signes et les indices »1.

5. Chalcidius, in Plat. Tim., 142 (Chrysippe). S.V.F., II, 933.

(79-80)

1. Cic., de diu, LVI, 127.

(80)

 

 

 

2.1.4.1.34.2

[The Togetherness of Moments in the Coil of Time]

 

(p.80, “La pleine connaissance des événements...”)

 

[In sum: The uncoiling of the rope is an image that is not about the (metrical or qualitative) homogeneity of time (like the geometrical “time-line”) but is rather about the idea that all events are from the beginning found together and that the temporal succession only deploys an initially given set.]

 

Only God has full knowledge of all events and their causes. We have already seen that God sees all things in the cosmic period in the mode of the present. The image of the uncoiling of a rope does not necessarily signify that all things are “perfectly uniform”; rather, it simply conveys the idea that all things are present together: the temporal succession only deploys an initially given set. [I am not entirely sure I understand the implications of that claim. Is the emphasis on ‘initially’ there to suggest that the series can change?] Bergson uses a similar image of an unfolding fan to portray the atemporalism that he was arguing very firmly against. It is primarily in divination that humans imitate, to the extent that they are able, this vision of the whole of time, by beginning with a singular event.

La pleine connaissance des événements et de leurs causes n’appartient qu’à Dieu. Nous avons déjà vu qu’elle saisit toutes choses dans le mode du présent, l’ensemble d’une période cosmique étant présent au regard de Dieu2. L’image du déroulement d’un câble ne signifie pas nécessairement que le cours des choses soit « parfaitement uniforme »3 ; elle exprime simplement l’idée que les choses sont présentes ensemble : la succession temporelle ne fait que déployer un ensemble initialement donné (« traductio temporis... primum quidque replicantis ») ; c’est par une image tout à fait comparable, que Bergson figurera l’intemporalisme qu’il combat4. – C’est principalement dans la divination, que l’homme, autant qu’il en est capable, imite cette vision d’ensemble, à partir d’un événement singulier.

(80)

2. Cf. §§ 17-18.

3. Ch. Appuhn, éd. Garnier, n. 178. – Il est vrai que, en dernier ressort, il y a équivalence entre l’homogénéité de la substance, le présent cosmique des périodes et l’identité des événements à travers les périodes (§§ 25, 2; 101; cf. p. 39, n. 6).

4. « L’éventail qu’on déploie pourrait s’ouvrir de plus en plus vite, et même instantanément ; il étalerait toujours la même broderie, préfigurée sur la soie » (La Pensée et le Mouvant, p. 11).

(80)

 

 

 

From:

 

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

 

 

Otherwise:

Cicero. 1923. De Senectute De Amicitia De Divinatione. With An English Translation. William Armistead Falconer. Cambridge. Harvard University Press; Cambridge, Mass., London, England. 

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=urn:cts:latinLit:phi0474.phi053.perseus-eng1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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