Stoic epistemology





Stoic epistemology

Knowledge is a philosophical concept which has been quite challenging to understand. Over the years, philosophers came up with diverging ideas about it. Precisely, it took a very long time for them to agree on the sources of knowledge. This sparked a very hot debate amongst the philosophers. Zeno emphasized on the role of “moral and intellectual perfection” in the acquisition of knowledge. According to his school of thought, reason can also be considered as a source of knowledge. To the stoicism, the acquisition of the right knowledge can be instrumental in identifying the truth and distinguishing it from a fallacy. However, this is not a simple thing to achieve because of the generalizations and misconceptions commonly encountered in the pursuit of knowledge.

The application of reason as a source of knowledge is quite fundamental. It can help an individual to be privy with the truth as a result of the use of wits and critical thought. Meaning, there should be the use of senses and the mind. Whereas the senses are instrumental in receiving sensations from the immediate surroundings, the mind is used to enhance responses. A proper coordination between the two is so critical. If any of them is impaired, it will be impossible for a person to get information about the objects around him before sieving it to unveil the truth. The constant flow of pulsations is used in the establishment of phantasia which is necessary for the acclimatization of a person to an object. These arguments are showing and reflecting clearly an element of inadequacy. There should be a clear understanding of the stoicism concepts for a person to be able make logical arguments.

As the stoics formulate, the mind should be a proper status to be able to perform its operations perfectly. Since it has an ability to judge, it can eventually enable a person to establish the truth. It is such a judgment that the mind uses to approve or reject an impression before eventually creating an impact to the person. The judgment creates an impression in the mind which grants a person an ample opportunity to differentiate the truth and falsehood. As Long and Sedley (2002, p112) examine, this demonstrates that ‘there should be a cordial relationship between these two organs because without them, nothing much can be achieved.’ Another important thing to know about this judgment is that the whole process does not necessarily occur in a similar manner. While other impressions take a very short time to be fully approved, others take considerably longer time duration. These are beliefs or opinion and they are manifested by different people in different ways to serve ego.

Surely, it is not an easy thing to achieve a full conviction and comprehension without the incorporation of reason. However, it is unfortunate that not all the people possess such a trait. It is only the sages who can be accredited to be having a full stoicism. Their full achievement implies that they can go beyond a mere belief since they have ability to verify the premises before making a conclusive judgment. Unlike them, many people have been unable to ascertain the truth. They do not have the skills to critically analyze a situation before making a productive and fruitful elevation of the mind. Thus, they cannot methodically examine situations and come up with the truth regarding the objects with which they are confronted. This explains why many people have been finding it difficult to make rational judgments for them to distinguish the truth in real life situation. This should be part of an argument.

Meanwhile, Stoics came up with the idea of “graspable” presentation.” This was also important in resolving the controversies which surrounded the inclusion of sense as a credible source of knowledge. As indicated earlier, knowledge had been a very contentious topic amongst the philosophers. However, despite their knowledge of such controversies, the stoics decided to take a low profile regarding the use of sense as a source of knowledge. Thus, they came up with this term to help people in distinguishing between the truth and false information. As a complex concept, a person is said to be able to do this in case they use such sense-perceptions to represent the actual truth in an accurate manner. it is a ‘graspable’ presentation that can use such perceptions to ascertain the truth.

To qualify for such a stature, it is essential for a person to be in a position of distinguishing the truth from falsehood or fantasy. It is a common thing for people to experience fantasies in their day to day experiences. However, these should not be confused with reality because they are quite distinct from each other. This was justified by (Aetius, 4.12.1) who said that “experiences in the soul which occurs as the result of no presented object, as in the case of people who fight with shadows and punch at thin air. For a presented object underlies the presentation, but no presented object the ‘phantastic.’ Besides, the presentation should be made to account for the object that is making it to be in existence. There should be a clear statement to focus on such objects since they help in tracing and understanding their source.

In his definition of this term, Zeno said it refers to a presentation originally coming from an existing object that was produced, molded and shaped just like it (the source object). This implies that each object has some form of uniqueness which are only associated with it. Hence, it requires a proper knowledge not to be altered at all times. I would like to be skeptical about this position because it is actually difficult for two different objects to be completely identical. Meaning, there may be a possibility of a false presentation resembling an original one. This is a very complex concept which needs to be approached more carefully. Many people have not been able to make such distinctions. It is advisable for them to be so keen on their judgments. This is the same problem identified in the given arguments. It proves a lack of adequate knowledge on presentations. There are elements of weak arguments which indicate inadequate mastery of knowledge.

Stoicism played a very significant role in resolving the controversy that surrounded the sources of knowledge. Despite its earlier disapproval by a section of scholars, sense-perception was recognized not only as a source, but as a reliable one. However, I would like to emphasize that this should not just be accepted like that. In my opinion, I would like to suggest that it should be accepted only if used under the right conditions. Some contexts may warrant it as a credible source of knowledge. This is mainly due to the fact that these sense-perceptions are not presented in a similar manner. in other words, some may present their objects sufficiently while others do not. This means that some of them are able to give true judgments while others giving false ones. In this case, not all of them can be relied upon even if Cicero regarded them as the messengers of truth.

Indeed, ‘graspable’ presentations are useful in helping people to understand facts. a proper understanding of an object is useful in distinguishing between the truth and falsehood. This in turn, is useful in making accurate, right and rational judgments. After all, stoics hold that self-perception is a significant thing because it is he starting point for the knowledge. All the forms of knowledge come from experience and/or self-perception. This justifies why even false expressions which are experienced by the mad or during sleep are dependent on it. What is false may not be easy to perceive. Thus, it is crucial to differentiate it from what is true.

In conclusion, I would like to acknowledge that knowledge is a very complex thing. Everyone should strive to seek it. As Zeno found out, it should begin from self-perception because it can be used as a foundation for knowing the truth and differentiating it from falsehoods. Everyone should be conscious of these facts to be able to make rational judgments to be in a position of resolving their day to challenges.

Works Cited

Long, A.A. and D. N. Sedley The Hellenistic Philosophers 2 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.Print.

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