Re: [stoics] The cognitive impression and 'true knowledge' [was: Why are "preferred" things called in accordance with nature?
- At 08:58 AM 4/1/2008, gich2 wrote:
Of course, there may be several wise responses. The idea of a single correct response makes no sense since a different phronemos with different funds of experiences
This is not relevant to what I thought we were discussing. The
fact that person P in situation S with experience-base E sees
action A as best while person P2 with experience-base E2 sees
action A2 as best has nothing to do with whether A is or isn't the
only correct response for P in S.
My claim is that _given what P knows at the time of making the
decision_ there is one and only one correct choice for P to make.
If some other person were in that situation with different information
then then one and only one correct choice for them might be different
from the one and only one correct choice for P. If P were given access
to information she doesn't currently possess, then the next time she's in
S the one and only one correct action for her to perform might be different.
But for any single set of person, evidence, and situation one and only
one choice will be correct.
[If you prefer, you can build the agent's abilities and knowledge
into the description of the situation, and then you will get the result
that there is one and only one correct action in S, period.]
The claim of the ancient Stoics is that there is one and only
one correct action in S, and it is the one that the Sage will choose.
How they reach that conclusion and whether it is plausible given
their constraints is unclear, but I think it is overwhelmingly
clear that the ancient Stoics did not think that the Sage routinely
was offered multiple equally virtuous options, since if that were true then
there would be lots of Sages running around.
would see the matter differently. The phronemos does what is retroactively recognized by others as appropriate. Since the situation is specific and the phronemos� past
Good heavens. I am absolutely sure that this isn't what
Stoicism teaches, in Epictetus or anyone else. Whether
other people retroactively regard my actions as appropriate
or not is utterly irrelevant to whether my actions were appropriate,
virtuous, right, correct, etc.
experience unique, what he does cannot be the appropriate thing; it can only be an appropriate thing.
But are there multiple appropriate things for _this_ person
to do in this specific situation with this specific set of background
The Stoic should focus on developing phronesis, practical wisdom. He must remember to determine his appropriate stoic role in all situations and continually work at perfecting his understanding of the �art of living�. He should ask the question: in this particular role, what would the wise man do in this particular situation? Sometimes,
Again, I am puzzled. I thought your view was that I will
routinely have multiple appropriate roles, and that I am free to choose
among them. In that case I have no need to 'determine my appropriate
stoic role' since I'll have lots of them to choose from, and it will
be easy to perfect my understanding of the art of living since
there's no one right answer to aim at finding. I cannot ask what the
wise man would do in this particular situation, since if I ask
5 wise men they will give me five different answers, and all of
them are as good as any of the others. Perfect virtue is a cinch--
I just have to avoid those actions which are not compatible with
_any_ of my role duties. If I'm a judge and I'm offered a big bribe
to set a murderer free, I can take the bribe [since my role as a father
endorses bringing home more money to support my family], or
refuse the bribe [since my role as a judge requires me to render
a just verdict]. I don't need to ask what the Sage would do, since
some Sages would take the bribe and some would reject it, and
both actions are appropriate. I can cheat on my income tax, or
not cheat. Etc.
(possibly often), �nothing� will be the answer.
More likely, 'nothing' will be one of the many answers.