Stoic theology: Proofs for the existence of the cosmic God and of the traditional Gods (review)

Journal of the History of Philosophy 47 (3):pp. 467-468 (2009)
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Meijer's book, a comprehensive study of Stoic theological arguments, defends the thesis that the Stoics were not narrowly interested in proving the existence of a god. The theology of the Stoa began with its founder, Zeno of Citium, presenting arguments that the cosmos is an intelligent being, though Zeno himself seems not to have explicitly identified that intelligent being as god. A clear statement equating the cosmos with god had to wait until the rise of the third head of the school, Chrysippus, though Meijer acknowledges that there is no reason to think that Zeno or Cleanthes, the second head, would have opposed the proposition that the cosmos, or at least the rational fire that pervades it, is god. Confusion about the true intent of Zeno's arguments is due to their distortion in the sources, for example, by Sextus Empiricus, who, Meijer contends, presents several of Zeno's arguments for the rationality of the cosmos as if they were intended as arguments to establish the existence of god. As a result, Sextus is an unreliable witness for determining the point of these arguments. Further confusing matters is the existence of a set of arguments attributed to Zeno that aim to establish the existence of the traditional gods. Meijer



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Michael Papazian
Berry College

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