Prolepsis and Ennoia in the Early Stoa

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Walter de Gruyter, 2009 - Philosophy - 265 pages
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This book reconstructs the Stoic doctrine of prolepsis. Prolepses are conceptions that develop naturally from ordinary experience. They are often identified with preconceptions (i.e. the first conceptions one unconsciously forms of something). However, this is inconsistent with the Stoics’ claim that prolepseis are criteria of truth. Rather, prolepseis are analytically true claims embedded within one’s ordinary conceptual scheme (e.g. the good is beneficial). When they have been articulated and systematized, prolepseis can be used to judge conceptual claims that go beyond the scope of sense-perceptual knowledge (e.g. pleasure is the good). The Stoics often refer to prolepseis as “common conceptions” to emphasize that they are shared by everyone, although in most people they remain unarticulated. This reconstruction suggests that Chrysippus was influenced by Platonic recollection to a greater extent than previously recognized. It supports the orthodoxy of Epictetus’ statements about prolepsis and suggests that later authors who assimilate the Epicurean and Stoic doctrines were misled by the polemical attacks of Carneades. The argument of the book is supported by a comprehensive collection of fragments relating to prolepsis in Epicurus, the early Stoa, Cicero, Epictetus, Plutarch, Sextus Empiricus, and Alexander of Aphrodisias.

 

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Contents

Are Porlepses and Common Conceptions Identical?
1
Prolepsis and Common Conceptions as Criteria of Truth
23
Stages in the Development of Reason
48
Menos Paradox and the Early Stoa
72
The Formation of Prolepses
80
Prolepsis in Ordinary and Philosophical Cognition
110
Are the Stoics Empiricists or Rationalists?
145
The Usage of Πρόληψις Εννοια and Related Terms
152
The Early Stoa
172
Cicero and Seneca
181
Epictetus
193
Plutarch
208
Sextus Empiricus
227
Alexander of Aphrodisias
244
Alcinous
250
Backmatter
253

Epicurus and Later Epicureans
163

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About the author (2009)

Henry Dyson, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.

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