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Re: Stoic Logic [was: Re: [stoics] Convincing ourselves or apprehending the reality

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  • Nyk Cowham
    ... Certainly by the time Galen wrote his Introduction to Logic it was recognized that the categorical syllogisms of Aristotle and the hypothetical
    Message 1 of 20 , Mar 1, 2011
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      On 1 March 2011 09:02, Kevin <kevin11_c@...> wrote: 

      Propositional logic was the mainstay of stoics, Chrysippus was probably the main contributor. From the  megarans  through the stoics it was somewhat unique compared to the logic of Aristotle. Though by the Roman times I think there was a blending of the two; stoics would employ categorical techniques and academics would employ propositional ones.

      Certainly by the time Galen wrote his "Introduction to Logic" it was recognized that the categorical syllogisms of Aristotle and the hypothetical syllogisms of the Stoics were compatible. The modern equivalents of predicate and propositional logics are likewise compatible systems.

      It seems that the Megarans (i.e.Diodorus Cronus and Philo of Megara) developed their logic independently to Aristotle and not at all in opposition to it.
       
       From my own reading I don't think the stoics (Early Stoa) would have approved of symbolic logic, because they spent a lot of time  defining what an actual statement had to be like to be considered valid. Conditionals and disjunctive statements had to have a certain connection which made sense. This is why their logic is sometimes referred to as non-truth functional.

      Interesting. I have noticed that whereas Aristotle happily substituted variables for terms (e.g. All A are B) the Stoics tended to use the words first, second, third to represent propositions (axiomata) in an argument. E.g:

      If the first, the second
      The first
      Therefore the second.

      I had never considered this as representing any sort of stance towards symbolization.That gives me something to chew on. It is true that the Stoics seemed more concerned with natural language statements than Aristotle, leading to very rigorous analyzes of Greek grammar. In what way do you think that Stoic logic may relate to modern treatments of natural language within contemporary Analytical Philosophy?

      I think it is a mistake to say Stoic logic was non-truth functional since their negation and conjunction were truth-functional and we know that all propositional logic can be derived from and reduced to those two logical operations. However, their preference for the exclusive disjunction and their definition of the conditional did create some problems in terms of analysis of propositions.

      Trying to follow Stoic logic with symbolic logic though possible, does involve transforming all their disjunctions to (~P & Q)  v  (P & ~Q) or some other equivalent transformation. I tend to favor the exclusive disjunction simply from having a computer science and electrical engineering background.
       
      Personally I like symbolic logic mostly because I find the act of translating to be helpful, but it is for this same reason it can be problematic. There is in the end no substitute for good judgment.

      Oh ok I think I see the connection you are making here. Symbolizing an argument inevitably involves abstraction and often transposition into a normalized form, but in doing so there is a risk of missing the proper meaning in natural language; particularly where the disjunction and conditional are concerned. It is interesting that unlike modern logic, the Stoics developed logic for non declarative (assertable) lekta, such as imperative logic, interrogative logic, so their dialectic was much more concerned with the validity of natural language statements.
       
       Concerning Roman Stoics it seems that at least some of the stoics during this period followed the same three part training program which they did in the Early Stoa, logic being one part. Epictetus had it as part of his curriculum and he mentions his training by Rufus.

      Most of what we know of Stoic logic comes from the Roman authors, not themselves Stoics, primarily Diogenes Laertius and Sextus Empiricus. Sadly, barely two fragments of Chrysippus, so we do not have access to the direct testimony of the Stoics concerning their logic.

      Regards,

      Nyk

    • julia_stahl_hernandez
      snip ... ***************************************************************** This distinction, along with the one above about the magical emphasis on the
      Message 2 of 20 , Mar 1, 2011
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        snip
        >
        > Mantra comes from the Sanskrit root 'man' meaning 'thought' or 'mind' and
        > 'tra' meaning 'instrument' - As such it refers to an instrument of thought.
        > We might also compare it loosely to the Greek use of 'Logos', though having
        > more 'magical' connotations than are attributed to Logos. The use of
        > mantra-japa (repetition of a phrase) and mantra-yoga would be a practice
        > more suitable to the theurgic schools of Neoplatonism than to Stoics.
        >
        > Where the vedic, upanishadic and theurgic practitioner attributes vitalistic
        > importance to individual words and letters (i.e. as Forms), a Stoic would
        > rather attribute semantic importance to arguments and statements.
        *****************************************************************

        This distinction, along with the one above about the "magical" emphasis on the "instrument of thought", are very important. By pointing it out explicitly, you help people (like me) who have experientially had a lot more emphasis placed on the magical approach, to get more clear in how they assess their own thinking. Thank you.

        ******************************************************************

        snip

        > Rather than seeking to import concepts and practices from Yoga, Buddhism or
        > theurgic Platonism I think it would be far more profitable to revive the
        > role of logic/dialectic and to investigate in what ways they contribute to
        > the ethical praxis and psycho-therapeutics of Stoicism.

        ******************************************************************

        Very good point. I don't know if it is simply the environment I am in, and have been in, but I find a great deal of prejudice against logic. It's possible I get prejudice not against logic, but logic coming from a woman. My point is, I've spent a good portion of my life being told I think "too much", or that I make things "too complicated"--when I bring up points that are logically sound. This accusation is usually after I have made people uncomfortable by raising issues they would rather not think about.

        In addition, a certain amount of children's stories make the kid with questions and doubts out to be the bad guy, while the children who believe the magic are the one's who are rewarded. Only when the child gives up on their stick in the mud instistence on silly old facts and reason do they experience happiness and peace.

        I guess my point here is that, from my point on the globe, I think we have a lot of work to do toward this very worthy goal.

        ****************************************************************>
        >
        > > This is not Stoic practice our goal is to convince ourselves and perhaps
        > > each other that Stoic principles are correct. Meaning they are actually
        > > true. The Stoic tradition is to do this publicly by logical demonstration.
        > > Marcus A was doing this privately throughout his "meditations," though here
        > > we do not see a formal rigor to his personal exhortations. In Epictetus we
        > > see a style which at first seems informal, but if you really dig in to what
        > > he is saying it often has a definite logical structure. If I came across a
        > > good argument either privately or personally which demonstrated that Stoic
        > > Ethical positions were false I would say good bye to Stoicism just like
        > > that.
        > >
        >
        > I agree with this. The act of convincing oneself is that of training the
        > mind to distinguish valid (well-formed and consistent) from invalid
        > thoughts.
        *********************************************************************

        So, to the original question (whether or not I did a good job of getting across my main point) "yes, it is useful to 'convince' oneself, with the goal in mind of coming to actual realization of the truth of the matter.

        *********************************************************************

        This involves not only distinguishing the content of the
        > disputations of others, but more importantly to distinguish our own true
        > thought from those that should be aborted. The philosophical midwifery of
        > the soul that Plato attributes to Socrates is this very process.
        >
        > There is a very real and important difference between a debate and
        > philosophical discussion (dialectic). Unfortunately, this distinction is all
        > too easily blurred.
        >
        > "If I came across a good argument either privately or personally which
        > demonstrated that Stoic Ethical positions were false I would say good bye to
        > Stoicism just like that."
        >
        > This is an important point. It hits at the heart of what we might mean when
        > we say 'convince myself'. There are a couple of fundamental questions we
        > have to ask ourselves before we have any hope of living an 'examined life'.
        > These are:
        >
        > 1. "What is the proper aim of life?"
        > 2. "What can I trust as a guide to achieve the proper aim in life?"
        >
        > These are the foundation stones. The Stoic answer to the first question is
        > "to live well". The answer to the second I believe is twofold: in the
        > absence of a sure and certain knowledge, I must trust my faculty of reason
        > as applied to an understanding of the way the world works inasmuch as I am
        > capable of experiencing it. In other words, Stoic philosophy is founded upon
        > logic and physics (not to be confused with the modern scientific
        > discipline). It is a proper examination of these that convinces me that the
        > conclusions of the ethics are well-founded.
        >
        > In terms of the logic, I work to perfect my reason, to identify errors of
        > reasoning and to make valid deductions about truth and falsity of statement
        > (internal discourse as well as external dialog). In terms of physics I
        > endeavor to observe the general workings of nature: as being bound by the
        > principle of sufficient reason, ordered, and comprised of a whole composed
        > of various orders of organized interactions and compounds that are in
        > constant movement in space and time.
        >
        > I cannot claim that Stoicism is the absolute truth - I can say that it's
        > conclusions are consistently derived from the foundational assumptions of
        > human Reason, and a verifiable nature, inasmuch as I am capable of
        > experiencing it. I could make different assumptions and thereby reach
        > entirely different conclusions. However, I am sufficiently convinced that
        > they are the best and least assumptions I need to make.. The two assumptions
        > above can be summarized as 'live according to nature'.
        >
        > If instead I started from different answers to those two questions: e.g. 1)
        > The proper aim of life is to serve god and become an instrument of his/her
        > divine will. and 2) The only sure and certain guide is the received word of
        > god as revealed by the prophets. Then, my philosophy would be entirely
        > different, as would my conclusions, actions and end results.

        *********************************************************************

        And this philosophical difference, embodied in the religious thought of a large percentage of the global population, represents a large chasm that people of logic have to contend with.

        I can't even effectively get the difference across to my dad...how can I begin to communicate with my neighbors?

        Ah, Fortune throws this challenge at our feet. (figuratively speaking :D)

        **********************************************************************
        >
        > Whereas I see the Stoic answer as being self-evident and entirely
        > defensible, the other I see as being not at all self-evident and requiring
        > far too many unstated assumptions to support.

        **********************************************************************

        Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.--Carl Sagan (I can't vouch for his Stoicism--it's just a good quote.)

        Or maybe the Stoic would add--after "evidence"--"or really sound logic".

        ********************************************************************
        >
        >
        > > Here on this List it seems we are often in conflict and debating each
        > > other. I for one think that is a healthy thing and I think I am more
        > > convinced of Stoic ethical positions because of them than I would be
        > > otherwise. All one must do is be committed to accept what follows, if one
        > > doesn't then the debate becomes less worthwhile.
        > >
        >
        > One of the most remarkable things about Greek Philosophy in general is the
        > emphasis placed on collaborative mutual examination of our opinions,
        > theories and cherished beliefs.

        *****************************************************************

        I think people overvalue getting others' "opinions", and undervalue "collaborative mutual examination".

        *****************************************************************

        This is quite in contrast to 'mystical'
        > philosophies that tend towards some form of personal quietism. The problem
        > with the quietist approach is that the practices tend to encourage the
        > cultivation of 'peak experiences'. Stoics are in the practice of cultivating
        > virtue rather than achieving blissful states of consciousness, which are
        > nothing more than a more refined form of pleasure. Attainment of peak
        > experiences are not the defining nature of human beings - stimulate the
        > pleasure centers of a rat's brain and it will also have a peak experience,
        > without all the inconvenience of years of meditation.

        ******************************************************************

        There's an anesthetic quality to peak experiences that keep the masses content. From a political perspective, I think the Stoics--and other philosophers--were somewhat, shall we say, unmanageable? Better to encourage bliss and magic, than examination and critique, if you want to stay in power.

        *******************************************************************
        >
        > Bona Mens vobiscum,

        ***********************************************************

        Please forgive me-I don't know Latin, and the Google translation seemed somewhat clumsy. In English, please?

        *****************************************************************
        >
        > Nyk
        >
        *******************************************************
        thanks for collaboratively mutually examining with me.

        Julia
      • Kevin
        I don’t think grammar and logic were thought of as discreet subjects like we do today.  Also their theory of implication was different than what is used in
        Message 3 of 20 , Mar 1, 2011
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          I don’t think grammar and logic were thought of as discreet subjects like we do today.  Also their theory of implication was different than what is used in symbolic logic today. Even in a simple disjunctive statement such as, 1 or 2, there had to be a reason why it was either 1 or 2 but not both for it to be considered a valid statement. Another intriguing subject to study is the idea of a Sign.

           

          Regards

          Kevin




          From: Nyk Cowham <nyk@...>
          To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Tue, March 1, 2011 4:53:54 AM
          Subject: Re: Stoic Logic [was: Re: [stoics] Convincing ourselves or apprehending the reality

           

          On 1 March 2011 09:02, Kevin <kevin11_c@...> wrote: 

          Propositional logic was the mainstay of stoics, Chrysippus was probably the main contributor. From the  megarans  through the stoics it was somewhat unique compared to the logic of Aristotle. Though by the Roman times I think there was a blending of the two; stoics would employ categorical techniques and academics would employ propositional ones.

          Certainly by the time Galen wrote his "Introduction to Logic" it was recognized that the categorical syllogisms of Aristotle and the hypothetical syllogisms of the Stoics were compatible. The modern equivalents of predicate and propositional logics are likewise compatible systems.

          It seems that the Megarans (i.e.Diodorus Cronus and Philo of Megara) developed their logic independently to Aristotle and not at all in opposition to it.
           
           From my own reading I don't think the stoics (Early Stoa) would have approved of symbolic logic, because they spent a lot of time  defining what an actual statement had to be like to be considered valid. Conditionals and disjunctive statements had to have a certain connection which made sense. This is why their logic is sometimes referred to as non-truth functional.

          Interesting. I have noticed that whereas Aristotle happily substituted variables for terms (e.g. All A are B) the Stoics tended to use the words first, second, third to represent propositions (axiomata) in an argument. E.g:

          If the first, the second
          The first
          Therefore the second.

          I had never considered this as representing any sort of stance towards symbolization.That gives me something to chew on. It is true that the Stoics seemed more concerned with natural language statements than Aristotle, leading to very rigorous analyzes of Greek grammar. In what way do you think that Stoic logic may relate to modern treatments of natural language within contemporary Analytical Philosophy?

          I think it is a mistake to say Stoic logic was non-truth functional since their negation and conjunction were truth-functional and we know that all propositional logic can be derived from and reduced to those two logical operations. However, their preference for the exclusive disjunction and their definition of the conditional did create some problems in terms of analysis of propositions.

          Trying to follow Stoic logic with symbolic logic though possible, does involve transforming all their disjunctions to (~P & Q)  v  (P & ~Q) or some other equivalent transformation. I tend to favor the exclusive disjunction simply from having a computer science and electrical engineering background.
           
          Personally I like symbolic logic mostly because I find the act of translating to be helpful, but it is for this same reason it can be problematic. There is in the end no substitute for good judgment.

          Oh ok I think I see the connection you are making here. Symbolizing an argument inevitably involves abstraction and often transposition into a normalized form, but in doing so there is a risk of missing the proper meaning in natural language; particularly where the disjunction and conditional are concerned. It is interesting that unlike modern logic, the Stoics developed logic for non declarative (assertable) lekta, such as imperative logic, interrogative logic, so their dialectic was much more concerned with the validity of natural language statements.
           
           Concerning Roman Stoics it seems that at least some of the stoics during this period followed the same three part training program which they did in the Early Stoa, logic being one part. Epictetus had it as part of his curriculum and he mentions his training by Rufus.

          Most of what we know of Stoic logic comes from the Roman authors, not themselves Stoics, primarily Diogenes Laertius and Sextus Empiricus. Sadly, barely two fragments of Chrysippus, so we do not have access to the direct testimony of the Stoics concerning their logic.

          Regards,

          Nyk


        • Nyk Cowham
          ... On the other hand there is a place for what I would call a mytho-poetic approach. The use of imagery and visualization can have very powerful effects if it
          Message 4 of 20 , Mar 1, 2011
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            On 1 March 2011 19:17, julia_stahl_hernandez <herjulia@...> wrote:
             

            snip


            >
            > Mantra comes from the Sanskrit root 'man' meaning 'thought' or 'mind' and
            > 'tra' meaning 'instrument' - As such it refers to an instrument of thought.
            > We might also compare it loosely to the Greek use of 'Logos', though having
            > more 'magical' connotations than are attributed to Logos. The use of
            > mantra-japa (repetition of a phrase) and mantra-yoga would be a practice
            > more suitable to the theurgic schools of Neoplatonism than to Stoics.
            >
            > Where the vedic, upanishadic and theurgic practitioner attributes vitalistic
            > importance to individual words and letters (i.e. as Forms), a Stoic would
            > rather attribute semantic importance to arguments and statements.
            *****************************************************************

            This distinction, along with the one above about the "magical" emphasis on the "instrument of thought", are very important. By pointing it out explicitly, you help people (like me) who have experientially had a lot more emphasis placed on the magical approach, to get more clear in how they assess their own thinking. Thank you.

            ******************************************************************

            snip

            On the other hand there is a place for what I would call a mytho-poetic approach. The use of imagery and visualization can have very powerful effects if it is directed with knowledge and wisdom. For some people, encoding a logically derived understanding into mental images can assist in helping us to hold on to them so that they become operative (i.e. directly influence judgment). This is something that was quite popular during the Renaissance, in the form of Ars Memoria (Art of Memory). At the time this was considered a form of magic.

            I guess my point is, that sometimes what looks like magic, is really nothing more than a bit of applied psychology.
             
            > Rather than seeking to import concepts and practices from Yoga, Buddhism or
            > theurgic Platonism I think it would be far more profitable to revive the
            > role of logic/dialectic and to investigate in what ways they contribute to
            > the ethical praxis and psycho-therapeutics of Stoicism.

            ******************************************************************

            Very good point. I don't know if it is simply the environment I am in, and have been in, but I find a great deal of prejudice against logic. It's possible I get prejudice not against logic, but logic coming from a woman. My point is, I've spent a good portion of my life being told I think "too much", or that I make things "too complicated"--when I bring up points that are logically sound. This accusation is usually after I have made people uncomfortable by raising issues they would rather not think about.
             
            I have to smile in recognition of your experiences. I'm sure I'm not the only one on this list who have received the advise that "you think too much". The problem is of course, that they don't think enough. If you were the last sane person in an entirely insane world you would be told "you know what you're problem is? You just don't chew enough furniture". I think your last observation is precisely the key. If they were honest they would say "I'm not interested in that stuff, I'm just as happy not asking questions that I don't think I can answer". Asking questions and looking beneath the surface of things can be very intimidating for a lot of people.

            I remember when I was still in college entering into a discussion with my mother about whether we can know if there is any sort of life after death. Bless her, she finally said "why do you want to take away my hope?" - At that moment I realized that my youthful curiosity and intellectually playfulness was not appropriate for the situation. A line from Thus Spoke Zarathustra immediately came to mind - when Zarathustra meets a Saint who tells of his joy in praising God:

            When Zarathustra had heard these words, he bowed to the saint and said: “What should I have to give thee! Let me rather hurry hence lest I take aught away from thee!”— And thus they parted from one another, the old man and Zarathustra, laughing like schoolboys.

            If I had anything to console my mother at that time whilst "taking away hope", then it would have been appropriate - but having none at the time - I begged her pardon and said that as persuasive as my account might have seemed, that I myself was not convinced by them, and that neither should she.

            The point of this story is that we should consider our own actions when it is appropriate to speak, and when to stay silent. Most of the time I stay silent, but when occasion arises when I have the good fortune to meet another such as myself, then I happily share what I have and more eagerly listen and learn.

            In addition, a certain amount of children's stories make the kid with questions and doubts out to be the bad guy, while the children who believe the magic are the one's who are rewarded. Only when the child gives up on their stick in the mud instistence on silly old facts and reason do they experience happiness and peace.

            And yet you have to love the story of "The Emperor with no Clothes" :D
             
            I guess my point here is that, from my point on the globe, I think we have a lot of work to do toward this very worthy goal.

            We can be intellectually inquisitive and think as much as we want and still be happy. I can't change the world, and I can't change the nature of other people. I can only change how I judge my interactions with other people. If there is one reason why I accept Stoicism is that it does not demand that I betray myself. It does not tell me to stop thinking and it assures me that you can "find happiness even in a palace".

            Having said this, I agree that it is indeed a worthy project to encourage others to open up their minds and ask more important questions.
             

            ****************************************************************>
            >
            > > This is not Stoic practice our goal is to convince ourselves and perhaps
            > > each other that Stoic principles are correct. Meaning they are actually
            > > true. The Stoic tradition is to do this publicly by logical demonstration.
            > > Marcus A was doing this privately throughout his "meditations," though here
            > > we do not see a formal rigor to his personal exhortations. In Epictetus we
            > > see a style which at first seems informal, but if you really dig in to what
            > > he is saying it often has a definite logical structure. If I came across a
            > > good argument either privately or personally which demonstrated that Stoic
            > > Ethical positions were false I would say good bye to Stoicism just like
            > > that.
            > >
            >
            > I agree with this. The act of convincing oneself is that of training the
            > mind to distinguish valid (well-formed and consistent) from invalid
            > thoughts.
            *********************************************************************

            So, to the original question (whether or not I did a good job of getting across my main point) "yes, it is useful to 'convince' oneself, with the goal in mind of coming to actual realization of the truth of the matter.

            *********************************************************************

            Yes, with a proviso. I don't think it is useful for in all people. In my own case it is not only useful but necessary that I first understand, examine and then validate every point before I can accept it. I am so wired that I cannot in good conscience accept something as an article of faith. I have tried, I am incapable of it. From what little I can tell about you from what you have written, I believe you are probably in a similar situation.
             
            This involves not only distinguishing the content of the
            > disputations of others, but more importantly to distinguish our own true
            > thought from those that should be aborted. The philosophical midwifery of
            > the soul that Plato attributes to Socrates is this very process.
            >
            > There is a very real and important difference between a debate and
            > philosophical discussion (dialectic). Unfortunately, this distinction is all
            > too easily blurred.
            >
            > "If I came across a good argument either privately or personally which
            > demonstrated that Stoic Ethical positions were false I would say good bye to
            > Stoicism just like that."
            >
            > This is an important point. It hits at the heart of what we might mean when
            > we say 'convince myself'. There are a couple of fundamental questions we
            > have to ask ourselves before we have any hope of living an 'examined life'.
            > These are:
            >
            > 1. "What is the proper aim of life?"
            > 2. "What can I trust as a guide to achieve the proper aim in life?"

            >
            > These are the foundation stones. The Stoic answer to the first question is
            > "to live well". The answer to the second I believe is twofold: in the
            > absence of a sure and certain knowledge, I must trust my faculty of reason
            > as applied to an understanding of the way the world works inasmuch as I am
            > capable of experiencing it. In other words, Stoic philosophy is founded upon
            > logic and physics (not to be confused with the modern scientific
            > discipline). It is a proper examination of these that convinces me that the
            > conclusions of the ethics are well-founded.
            >
            > In terms of the logic, I work to perfect my reason, to identify errors of
            > reasoning and to make valid deductions about truth and falsity of statement
            > (internal discourse as well as external dialog). In terms of physics I
            > endeavor to observe the general workings of nature: as being bound by the
            > principle of sufficient reason, ordered, and comprised of a whole composed
            > of various orders of organized interactions and compounds that are in
            > constant movement in space and time.
            >
            > I cannot claim that Stoicism is the absolute truth - I can say that it's
            > conclusions are consistently derived from the foundational assumptions of
            > human Reason, and a verifiable nature, inasmuch as I am capable of
            > experiencing it. I could make different assumptions and thereby reach
            > entirely different conclusions. However, I am sufficiently convinced that
            > they are the best and least assumptions I need to make.. The two assumptions
            > above can be summarized as 'live according to nature'.
            >
            > If instead I started from different answers to those two questions: e.g. 1)
            > The proper aim of life is to serve god and become an instrument of his/her
            > divine will. and 2) The only sure and certain guide is the received word of
            > god as revealed by the prophets. Then, my philosophy would be entirely
            > different, as would my conclusions, actions and end results.

            *********************************************************************

            And this philosophical difference, embodied in the religious thought of a large percentage of the global population, represents a large chasm that people of logic have to contend with.

            There is no reason to contend with the situation. It is what it is. You who are who you are and other people are who they are. We have the choice to let things be as they are. My own strategy is to try and interact with people in a way that is most comfortable and relaxed for them - eventually people come up with a problem that vexes them, and the time becomes appropriate for me to help them think about the situation more clearly. The way I visualize it is - I am in a forest filled with timid forest creatures. If I am loud and run around, they will be frightened, and some may even feel so threatened they will attack me. If instead I sit quietly and hum a soothing tune, eventually one of the creatures will be overcome by curiosity and tentatively approach. I throw a few little scraps of the food from my rucksack and eventually the creature approaches nearer and nearer. I observe their habits and mirror them until eventually a harmony is achieved and I am accepted in the environment - with that acceptance I can do the most good for myself and for the creatures of the forest. Let's call this the "Gorillas in the Mist" approach. :D

            However, if I am chased out of the forest, no foul. There are other forests to explore.
             
            I can't even effectively get the difference across to my dad...how can I begin to communicate with my neighbors?

            Ah, Fortune throws this challenge at our feet. (figuratively speaking :D)

            Perhaps a study of Rhetoric? Again, you can't control how others receive you. However, you can develop your own virtues. In this case, you can cultivate your own powers of persuasion so that you can clearly communication your thoughts in terms that are most appropriate to your audience.
             
            **********************************************************************
            > Whereas I see the Stoic answer as being self-evident and entirely
            > defensible, the other I see as being not at all self-evident and requiring
            > far too many unstated assumptions to support.

            **********************************************************************

            Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.--Carl Sagan (I can't vouch for his Stoicism--it's just a good quote.)

            Or maybe the Stoic would add--after "evidence"--"or really sound logic".

            ********************************************************************

            And maybe a little personal grooming with Ockham's Razor. :D
             
            > > Here on this List it seems we are often in conflict and debating each
            > > other. I for one think that is a healthy thing and I think I am more
            > > convinced of Stoic ethical positions because of them than I would be
            > > otherwise. All one must do is be committed to accept what follows, if one
            > > doesn't then the debate becomes less worthwhile.
            > >
            >
            > One of the most remarkable things about Greek Philosophy in general is the
            > emphasis placed on collaborative mutual examination of our opinions,
            > theories and cherished beliefs.

            *****************************************************************

            I think people overvalue getting others' "opinions", and undervalue "collaborative mutual examination".

            *****************************************************************

            Opinions are the lowest form of knowledge. Reasons are more revealing than opinions. One of the roles of philosophy, particularly dialectic, is examining the reasons we hold certain opinions or beliefs. When we examine those reasons it is often the case that we reveal that they are unfounded or self-contradictory. Dialectic, at least as demonstrated in the Socratic dialogs, is not a debate, it is as Socrates admits in the Thaetetus a form of midwifery - giving birth to the content of the soul.

            The modern Platonist Pierre Grimes has a very good series of videos on this theme (from the Platonic tradition, rather than the Stoic):
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJ4U0e0S5vc

            There's a whole bunch of lectures in that series and I would recommend watching them. I must confess it was like my own personal crack cocaine for several weeks :D
             
            This is quite in contrast to 'mystical'
            > philosophies that tend towards some form of personal quietism. The problem
            > with the quietist approach is that the practices tend to encourage the
            > cultivation of 'peak experiences'. Stoics are in the practice of cultivating
            > virtue rather than achieving blissful states of consciousness, which are
            > nothing more than a more refined form of pleasure. Attainment of peak
            > experiences are not the defining nature of human beings - stimulate the
            > pleasure centers of a rat's brain and it will also have a peak experience,
            > without all the inconvenience of years of meditation.

            ******************************************************************

            There's an anesthetic quality to peak experiences that keep the masses content. From a political perspective, I think the Stoics--and other philosophers--were somewhat, shall we say, unmanageable? Better to encourage bliss and magic, than examination and critique, if you want to stay in power.

            *******************************************************************
            .
            The problem with peak experiences is they are transitory, what goes up, must come down. The mystical experience is great, until the alarm clock goes off and you have to go back to work. The aim of Stoicism is to achieve a true and lasting happiness. That is what we all really want - anything else is little more than a temporary palliative or consolation prize, that lasts for a short while, is accompanied by a sense of decrease and the desire for yet another - like a rat in a cage hammering on a lever for another pellet of food, that may or may not come. Most people are so busy hammering at the lever they fail to acknowledge that they are in a cage and to conceive an escape plan.
             
            Bona Mens vobiscum,

            ***********************************************************

            Please forgive me-I don't know Latin, and the Google translation seemed somewhat clumsy. In English, please?

            *****************************************************************

            Literally means 'Good Thought be with you all' - Bona Mens was the Roman goddess representing the personification of Mind, thought or right/clear thinking.
             
            >
            > Nyk
            >
            *******************************************************
            thanks for collaboratively mutually examining with me.

            And likewise, thank you. It's all I know to do: to seek understanding by exposing what I think I know to the critical examination of others. In this way I've already discarded far more than I have accepted. No opinion or belief is sacred, they are all mere placeholders for wisdom.

            Bona Mens vobiscum.

            Nyk
          • Douglas Moore
            Thank you Nyk for your excellent reply. *On 1/03/2011 3:40 AM, Nyk Cowham wrote:***** On 28 February 2011 18:01, Douglas Moore
            Message 5 of 20 , Mar 1, 2011
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              Thank you Nyk for your excellent reply.

              On 1/03/2011 3:40 AM, Nyk Cowham wrote: 

               

              On 28 February 2011 18:01, Douglas Moore <djhmoore23@...> wrote

              A mantra usually refers to a verbal repetitive chant.  This is particularly therapeutic for the left hemisphere of the brain. The left hemisphere is the side that characterises modern Western thinking and the sciences.

              You mean like the kind of thinking the Greek and Roman stoics were influential in formulating: the Western philosophical tradition? Since when was Western thinking or the left lobe of the cerebral cortex bad? Demonizing a full 50% of our brain mass doesn't seem like a very good way to start my day. :)

               Sorry about demonising 50% of your brain and messing up the start of your day!

              Rather than deftly painting a subtle picture, I hoed in with a chainsaw. A much more nuanced and scholarly approach to biological brain hemisphere specialisation is Iain McGilchrist’s book The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World . A good radio interview with him can be found at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/allinthemind/stories/2010/2928822.htm. He offers a well-researched insight into the rational specialities of both hemispheres and, of course, advances the theme that present day Western culture has become increasingly under the sway of the analytical, abstract specialities of the left hemisphere.    

              Myself, personally, I’m coming at the situation from the opposite side. Rather than starting with the biological brain to throw some light on philosophy, I start with the architecture of the “epistemological brain” and try to exploit known traits of the biological brain to liven up the discourse and provide some provocation for what might become dull philosophy. There may be some important insights along the way.

              The epistemological brain is split right down the middle by a Kantian cut. All scientific knowledge that requires a priori, conditioned knowledge goes into the left hemisphere. This includes formal mathematics as that requires axioms to kick start. All of these sciences are based on abstraction and are bottom up.

              The right hemisphere is reserved for the science that doesn’t need any a priori experience. Kant referred to such a science as metaphysics. So did Aristotle.

              The problem is on one seems to know what this right side science actually is. I’m in the process of editing the final draft of a book on this topic.

              The right hemisphere of the biological brain can act as a guide. In the process of spelling out this specificity, many Stoic values come to the fore. No time to elaborate here.

               This is where you find the angst.  

               
              I'm only familiar with the term 'angst' from Existentialist discourse expressing a condition of fear or anxiety at facing a conflict between one's responsibility to self and others. I am not familiar with its usage in terms of Stoic discourse. Are you referring to 'passion',, perhaps? If you are talking about the passions, then I do not see it having anything to do with the lateralization of the brain.

              I am not taking a scholarly approach to Stoicism and avoid too much emphasis on dissecting Stoic terminology.  If Stoicism embraces fundamental truths, then they should be capable of being “reverse engineered” from the avowed first principles that the doctrine is supposed to embrace. Sure, we are very indebted to the scholars for their incredible forensic work, particularly given the paucity of material. However, there is one important fact that stands out more than anything else. The scholars have not been able degage the essential definitive argument that holds the system all together. Stoicism, as many scholars bemoan, appears to be an immense patchwork of disparate ideas, when the doctrine, in its essence, claims to be a simple, simplifying rational force..

               Anyway, back to the angst. This requires delving into the frailties of the left side hemisphere. Sometimes bad tempered, pleasure seeking; the left brain has been described as “a dopamine-oriented world unto itself.”  One could say that the left brain is hard wired to express Epicurean pleasure seeking values. Anyway, to cut a long story short. If you want to find the angst in the brain, it’s on the left side. That’s where the dopamine is - to keep it happy and motivated.

               To be fair, the right hemisphere also has limitations. It’s not good at coordinating fine motor skills. It’s rather gauche. It needs the left side and its extraordinary tunnel vision abilities to thread the needle.  As McGilchrist characterises it, the Master needs the Emissary. However, his story was that the Emissary sometimes thinks it can go it alone as it “ambles off to the abyss”.  The moral being that the Emissary also needs the Master.

               McGilchrist describes the left hemisphere as being detached, precise, narrowly focused, and operating in a fragmented world. It is an eternal optimist but to a degree which is unsound. He finishes off his anthropomorphising of the left hemisphere with the flourish likening the left hemisphere to an ambitious bureaucrat with its own interests at heart… parasitic on the right.

               I hope I’m not ruining your day Nyk. Just keeps the dopamine flowing.

               However, I believe the most profound difference between the two hemispheres is something that can be readily seen with stroke victims.

              McGilchrist refers to as “hemi-neglect.” This is a characteristic of the left hemisphere of the brain which, when unchallenged by the right hemisphere, literally refuses to or simply cannot acknowledge the existence of one half of reality. The phenomenon may be brought about by the patient suffering a right-hemisphere stroke, a permanent condition for axiomatic mathematics as it has never ever had a right-hemisphere. Here is McGilchrist expert description.

              Because the concern of the left hemisphere is with the right half of the world only, the left half of the body, and everything lying in the left part of the visual field, fails to materialise ... So extreme can this phenomenon be that the sufferer may fail to acknowledge the existence of anyone standing to his left, the left half of the face of a clock, or the left page of a newspaper or book, and will even neglect to wash, shave or dress the left half of the body, sometimes going so far as to deny that it exists at all. This is despite the fact that there is nothing at all wrong with the primary visual system: the problem is not due to blindness as ordinarily understood. If one temporarily disables the left hemisphere of such an individual through transcranial magnetic stimulation, the neglect improves, suggesting that the problem following right-hemisphere stroke is due to release of the unopposed action of the left hemisphere. But you do not get the mirror-image of the neglect phenomenon after a left-hemisphere stroke, because in that case the still-functioning right hemisphere supplies a whole body, and a whole world, to the sufferer

              I claim that this “hemi-neglect” runs right across the traditional sciences and even infects mathematics. When any mathematician says, “well this theorem has been proved and of course we get two for the price of one as the dual version is implicitly also proved. This inane assumption that mathematical duality implies virtually the same structure on the “other side” is an example of “hemi-neglect” and that is serious. All our mathematicians are suffering from it.

               
              For certain, the Greek Stoics were champions of logic and analytical thinking, since they developed a robust system of logic that forms the basis of modern mathematical reasoning. They were also the first to develop an analysis of grammar. Correct me if I am wrong but isn't language supposed to be sited in Broca's Area in the left frontal lobe?

              Chryssipus effectively discovered the propositional calculus and presented it in the form of his “five undemonstratibles”. What was notable was that Stoic logic, unlike Aristotle‘s syllogistic logic, avoided any usage of species or genus. The emphasis was on the particular. This illustrates the Stoic aversion for the universal and general. “the universal is not a thing”. They avoided abstract thought. This qualifies them for right side thinker status.

               

              As far as the left hemisphere being the”language side of the brain”, stroke victims with a non-functioning right side will retain language and have capability with syntax. However, they will lack semantic competence, a right side capability. The left hemisphere s the “Artificial Intelligence» side of the brain, where the emphasis is on Artificial.
               

              It specialises in abstract, symbolic, analytical thinking. The angst comes from the alienation of the abstract to anything substantial.  The right hemisphere specialises in the creative, dominated by context,  concerning itself with the whole.


              I have to confess I don't undertand what you mean by "...angst comes from the alienation of the abstract to anything substantial". There is no natural dichotomy as far as I know between abstraction and substantiality. In what ways are you using these terms, and

              In Analytic philosophy they call it the Mind Body dichotomy don’t they?. Nyk,  I notice that you have your own domain name and mail server, which probably means that you are in computer science (CS) where the term abstraction is used quite differently. In CS, they should use the term ‘generic’ instead. Abstraction doesn’t exist in CS.

               

              what who or what is being alienated, and in what way is it alienation? Also, how does this relate to the Stoic account of passion, virtue and eudaimonia?

              Need a book to answer that one. .

              Apparently, at any particular time, one hemisphere will be dominant. Empirical studies have shown that, in humans, the hemispheres switch from being dominant every ninety minutes.  Repetitive reciting of a mantra is a good way to switch over to the right side. The left hemisphere is comforted by the mantra, gets bored, and falls asleep, leaving the right side, in a mild meditative state to contemplate the whole.


              Boring half of the brain to sleep, the half supposedly dealing with rational and critical thinking just doesn't sound like Stoicism - not any branch I am familiar with. Why would I care to disable my brain?
               

              Instead of thinking in a linear sequence, the alternative (right side) approach is to reason like Heraclitus. Reason in terms of oppositions.

              Here is a link to my blog on the topic http://djhmoore.blogspot.com/

               In Hellenistic times there was a dichotomy is philosophical outlook: The Epicureans on one side faced off against the Stoics on the other.


              Actually, there were plenty of new Cynics, Academicians, Skeptics, Peripatetics, Neoplatonists, Neo-Pythagoreans, etc.There was hardly a clear cut neurobiological dichotomy as you seem to suggest..

               

              In the book I’m finishing I have a Hellenistic  tennis courts where the game is the persuit of happiness. The Epicureans are up one end and the Stoics at the other. The Skeptics are in the umpire seat with their backs to that game, having suspended judgments. I guess the others you mention are in the audience.
               

              The Epicureans were left side thinkers and precursors to the analytical, atomistic, amoral, dualism that characterises Western thought today.


              You seem to have a relatively outdated idea of what Western scientific thought currently is. It has diverged quite considerably from what might be compared to Epicureanism. Systems theory (i.e. wholistic systems approach) has touched almost every discipline of the natural and social sciences, but is most noticeable in biology and ecology.

              Franky Nyk, if I had a choice between a book on Systems Theory (as distinct from System Theory) or a pair of brown socks for Christmas, I’d choose the brown socks, The socks would be more exciting. Only superficial progress has been made since Norbet Weiner’s book 60 years ago. A lot of disciplines might have been touched, but that’s about it. Touched.


              I maintain that the Western wisdom tradition as being not only equal to the wisdom traditions of the East, but more consistent with experience and reason. Amongst the Western wisdom traditions, I hold the Stoic school to be the epitome of wisdom. Having said this, I do see there is room for comparative studies and a sharing of ideas between the Eastern and Western wisdom philosophies. I have explored both quite extensively and even now live in a Buddhist country, to learn more fully from the ground. I still find that Stoicism addresses the human condition as I experience it in the clearest, most comprehensive and acceptable manner. We should be judicious in selecting any practices from other traditions.
               

              I concur.

              The Stoics were right brained thinkers, monist, rationalist moralist and holistic. They also sketched out the framework for a unique, unifying science. Over two thousand years later, it is up to us to complete their long neglected project.


              The Stoics were thinkers. If you want to identify hemispherical dominance, their emphasis on logic, including pioneering excursions into grammar and linguistic analysis, would clearly place them in a left hemispherical mode. 

               

              The Stoics were into the meanings of phonemes, something anathema to left side linguistics where the arbitrariness of the signifier is gospel. They were more into semiotics. Compare Chomsky, syntactic structures with the Stoics. For the Stoics, semantics was always carried along with syntax.

              Best Regards

              Douglas

            • Douglas Moore
              Nik, My last post lost its formatting . Here it is as an attachement Cheers Duglas
              Message 6 of 20 , Mar 1, 2011
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              Nik,

              My last post lost its formatting . Here it is as an attachement

              Cheers Duglas
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