Prolepsis and Koine Ennoia in the Early Stoa

Dissertation, Emory University (2004)

The Roman Stoics hold that all humans possess the seeds of virtue and wisdom and innately develop certain natural concepts alternately called ' prolepseis,' 'koinai ennoiai,' or 'phusikai ennoiai.' This dissertation addresses the relation between these doctrines, concept-formation, and intellectualist psychology in the Early Stoa. The prevailing view is that the 'empiricism' of the Early Stoa precludes interpreting prolepsis and koine ennoia as tacitly functioning innate ideas; rather, the Roman Stoics are influenced by Platonic recollection. I argue to the contrary that this interpretation is well grounded in the extant fragments from Chrysippus. ;Chapter One examines the evidence for regarding 'prolepsis,' 'koine ennoia,' and ' phusike ennoia' as technical terms designating a single Chrysippean doctrine. Chapter Two shows that the Stoic theory of concept-formation poses serious difficulties concerning the criterial function and scope of prolepsis and koine ennoia. These problems are addressed in Chapters Three and Four respectively. I conclude that they can be resolved by interpreting prolepsis and ennoia as successive stages in the development of reason. Specifically, I argue that prolepsis is a form of tacit knowledge that is providentially guaranteed to be true whereas koinai ennoiai are the articulations of prolepseis that serve as criteria for evaluating other beliefs. Since prolepseis and koinai ennoiai have identical propositional content, the Stoics tend to use the terms interchangeably, leading to confusions in both ancient sources and recent scholarship. ;Chapters Five and Six examine the historical and philosophical context of Stoic prolepsis. I suggest that the doctrine is appropriated from Epicurus in two stages. Academic criticism of the first stage has led to the 'empiricist' reading of Stoic epistemology. However, in response to this criticism Chrysippus develops the dispositional innatism that is preserved in the Roman Stoics' metaphor of seeds of virtue and wisdom. Plato's dialogues are influential throughout the formation of this theory. The Stoics regard their intellectualist psychology and science of dialectic as the true Socratic philosophy and offer prolepsis as an alternative to Platonic recollection. I conclude by suggesting that in the Roman period Stoic prolepsis is used to reformulate Platonic recollection as a theory of dispositional innatism.
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