Paul Scade

Thought and Reality in Stoic Ontology

In this paper I will suggest that studies of the structure of Stoic metaphysics have been remiss in not taking full account of the Stoic insistence that there are two ways of looking at the world and have, consequently, tended to focus their attention on a ‘microcosmic metaphysics’ which treats the many apparently distinct particular bodies in the world as the fundamental units of reality. I argue that we should, rather, begin with the critical distinction between complete and incomplete bodies and that we must recognise that the incomplete bodies of the sub-cosmic realm are, in an important sense, thought constructs. With this distinction in hand I will then turn to examine the status of two types of object that have been neglected in discussions of Stoic ontology: composite entities, on the one hand, and relationships and relational complexes on the other. Structures composed from a plurality of parts but which lack an internal unifying principle cannot be accommodated within the traditional accounts of Stoic ontology but I will argue that once the distinction between the complete cosmic and incomplete sub-cosmic bodies is recognised, relational and composite complexes are found to inhabit a realm between these two levels, depending on sub-cosmic particulars for their parts and on the fact that they are internal structural elements of the cosmos for their unity and, thus, reality.

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