Article/Publication Details

The Principles of Stoic Physics I. Cosmos as Dynamic Continuum

(Original title: Princípy stoickej fyziky I. Kozmos ako dynamické kontinuum)
Organon F, 1997, vol. 4, No 3, pp. 215-245.
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Abstract

The author offers in the article a reconstruction of the Stoic physics, more precisely of Chrysippean physics, as an alternative conception to the Epicurean atomism, different from Aristotle´s physics as well as from the point of view of the Peripatetics and Academics. He argue that Stoic physics, considered as philosophy of nature, is best characterised as anti-atomistic, continuous and dynamic doctrine of physical bodies. The Stoics show unwillingness to accept any kind of atoms: neither atoms of bodies, nor atoms of place and time do exist - all of them (bodies, place, time) are divisible without end. The author shows that Stoics ultimate principles, or elements, of things (stoicheiá) are, according to Stoic tenets, syncretic constructs: they have physical property (are causal agents) as well as abstract conceptual trits (they play the role of principles). The tension of the pneuma is, on the authority of the Stoics, the measure of the degree of organisation of the bodies. However, the pneuma is not only sum of active elements (fire and air), or the "fifth" element as the reductionistic principles of totality, but host of all the mode of composition different cohesive forces into a totality with new cohesive quality. Further the author scrutinises the Cone problem and its different solutions and explain Stoic doctrine of the space. He doubts that concept of small but not precisely bounded place was fundamental for Stoic conception of the infinitesimal magnitudes. The author has in that the Stoics understood »now« as extended divisible interval with internal structure of earlier and later, and yet below the level discriminability. However, this tenet has an ontological, not an epistemological foundation. Past and future outside of microscopic interval »now« do not exist, they merely subsist. The author strives to demonstrate that explaining movement the Stoics also had two doctrines: the teaching of movement "all at once" (athroós) they use for microscopic changes (changes upon small but not precisely bounded place) and in order to resolve the paradoxes of Zeno, the complementary teaching of movement "the former before the later" (kata to proteron proteron) they used for finite and unlimited distances. The indiscernibility of a series of microscopic changes was, according to the author, justified by the continuous ontology of the Stoa.

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