[2.2.1] The Stoic Sage’s Mind

“The Stoics held that the soul consists of eight parts which are spatially recognized portions or streams of pneuma.” These are:

  • the five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch)
  • the reproductive faculty,
  • the speech faculty,
  • central commanding faculty (hêgemonikon).

A central tenet of the Stoic philosophy of mind is the theory of Assent: “Although we may entertain and experience all sorts of presentations [through the senses], we do not necessarily accept or respond to them all. Hence the Stoics held that some phantasiai receive assent and some do not. Assent occurs when the mind accepts a phantasia as true (or more accurately accepts the subsisting lekton as true). Assent is also a specifically human activity, that is, it assume the power of reason. Although the truth value of a proposition is binary, true or false, there are various levels of recognizing truth. According to the Stoics, opinion (doxa) is a weak or false belief. The sage avoids opinions by withholding assent when conditions do not permit a clear and certain grasp of the truth of a matter. Some presentations experienced in perceptually ideal circumstances, however, are so clear and distinct that they could only come from a real object; these were said to be kataleptikê (fit to grasp). The kataleptic presentation compels assent by its very clarity and, according to some Stoics, represents the criterion for truth. The mental act of apprehending the truth in this way was called katalepsis which means having a firm epistemic grasp.”

The following UML Use Case diagram shows the main concepts of the Stoic’s philosophy of mind:

The stoic sage’s mind
FacultyRelated Use Case
5 SENSESExperience Impression (aisthetike phantasiai) through 5 SENSES
5 SENSES Experinece Cognitive Impression (Phantasia kataleptikê): “Some presentations experienced in perceptually ideal circumstances, however, are so clear and distinct that they could only come from a real object; these were said to be kataleptikê (fit to grasp). The kataleptic impression/presentation compels assent by its very clarity …, represents the criterion for truth. The mental act of apprehending the truth in this way was called katalepsis which means having a firm epistemic grasp.”
5 SENSES Generate Knowledge (epistemê) – from experience grasps of first principles: “knowledge [epistemê] was defined as a katalepsis that is secure and unchangeable by reason.”
5 SENSES Impulse (hormê) initiates motion/action: “The basic function of impulse is to initiate motion. When we perceive an object or event in the physical world, a phantasia or presentation is produced in the commanding faculty which is then evaluated by the rational faculty… If the object is deemed good, an impulse is initiated as a kind of motion in the soul substratum. If the object is bad, repulsion [aphormê] is produced, and the agent withdraws from the object under consideration.”
5 SENSES Experience Non-Cognitive (Non-Cataleptic) Impression
REPRODUCTIVE Reproduction using REPRODUCTIVE faculty
SPEECHSpeak using SPEACH faculty
CENTRAL COMMANDING CENTRAL COMMANDING faculty coordinates mental processes
CENTRAL COMMANDING Use Reason (logos): “Only human beings and gods possess the highest level of pneumatic activity, reason [logos]. Reason was defined as a collection of conceptions and preconceptions.”
CENTRAL COMMANDING Create, use Conceptions (ennoêmata): “Conceptions on the other hand seemed to be collections or patterns of stored phantasiai…”
CENTRAL COMMANDINGUse Preconception (prolepsis): “A preconception [prolepsis] is an innate disposition to form certain conceptions…e.g. concept of the good and the concept of God.”
CENTRAL COMMANDING Assent: “is also a specifically human activity, that is, it assume the power of reason. The sage avoids opinions by withholding assent when conditions do not permit a clear and certain grasp of the truth of a matter… Depending on the content of the presentation and the individual’s conception of what is good, the object of perception may be classified as good, evil, or indifferent. The faculty of assent in conjunction with reason will accept, reject, or withhold judgement based on the value of the object”
CENTRAL COMMANDING Use passion: Passions are unruly and contrary to reason”

OBSERVATION: And for comparison, here is the model of the average person’s (non-sage) mind 🙂

Stoic NON sage’s mind

Sources

First published: 28/01/2019

Updated:

  • 31/01/2019: added Non-Cognitive Impression/Impulse and Action
  • 06/02/2019: changed relations of Assent and Use Case names
  • 20/03/2019: clarified and described Impulse
  • 16/04/2019: some relations changed

8 thoughts on “[2.2.1] The Stoic Sage’s Mind

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