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Ignorance and Opinion in Stoic Epistemology

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This paper argues for a view that maximizes in the Stoics' epistemology the starkness and clarity characteristic of other parts of their philosophy. I reconsider our evidence concerning doxa (opinion/belief): should we really take the Stoics to de fine it as assent to the incognitive, so that it does not include the assent of ordinary people to their kataleptic impressions, and is thus actually inferior to agnoia (ignorance)? I argue against this, and for the simple view that in Stoicism assent is either, in the case of the fool, doxa = agnoia, or alternatively, in that of the sage, epistêmê (knowledge). This view, together with reflection on the appropriate sense of "between" in the relevant reports of SE and Cicero, yields a sympathetic reading of an otherwise problematic challenge Sextus reports Arcesilaus as having prepared for the Stoic claim that katalêpsis, which is the criterion of truth, is between knowledge and opinion; on my view each side is proceeding in a philosophically legitimate way.

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/content/journals/10.1163/1568528054740140
2005-08-01
2016-10-01

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