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Stoic unformed substance and old academic ontology

By M. Skipper


This thesis examines the influences on the Stoics' development of their material principle. The thesis argues that the reasons for the Stoics' conceiving of a material principle as they did actually have their origins in metaphysical speculation rather than physics. While the natural philosophy of the Ionians, as interpreted by Aristotle and his followers, no doubt furnished the intellectual background for a persisting material substrate of all sensible change, it is in fact the concerns of Plato and his early followers with the non-sensible that exert the strongest influence on the Stoics. The thesis examines the concepts of space and matter in the Timaeus ultimately rejecting this work of physics as central to the development of Stoic thought on matter. Rather it is the metaphysical doctrines of Plato and his successors, and the use they make of an incorporeal matter, that exerted the greatest influence on the Stoics and their material principle. The interpretation of Platonic metaphysics argued for in the thesis, based on the Unwritten Doctrines and the Old Academy's teachings, challenges the majority opinion of the English speaking community; and as a result offers a novel understanding of the relationship of Stoicism to Platonic metaphysics. The thesis concludes that it is likely that the early Stoics developed their doctrine of a material substrate in the particular way they did because of the tendency in the Old Academy to simplify the doctrines of Plato. This simplifying tendency comes to a head in the early Stoics with the ultimate reduction of the Old Academic system of hypostases, making use of active and passive principles at various levels of reality, finally ending in one level of reality and a simple two principle system

Publisher: UCL (University College London)
Year: 2010
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Provided by: UCL Discovery

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