Propositional Perception: Phantasia, Predication and Sign in Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics

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9780761823414: Propositional Perception: Phantasia, Predication and Sign in Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics

The early Greek Stoics were the first philosophers to recognize the object of normal human perception as predicative or propositional in nature. Fundamentally we do not perceive qualities or things, but situations and things happening, facts. To mark their difference from Plato and Aristotle, the Stoics adopted phantasia as their word for perception. This term had been coined by Plato to designate "deceptive appearance," a combination of sensation and judgment, and the Stoics turned this sense to positive account, by linking it to the ground-breaking work of Plato and Aristotle on predication, the framing of propositions. To corner the Sophist, in his Sophist, Plato had argued that phantasia was of the nature of judgment and statement, capable of truth and falsity. The Stoics made phantasia or propositional perception the starting point and basis for their propositional logic, and showed that the revealing power of perception is carried over in the formation of logical propositions and the interrelation of propositions in signs and proof. Author Jeffrey Barnouw proposes new interpretations and translations for other characteristic Stoic terms in addition to phantasia, including lekton, pragma, axioma, huparchein, ptosis, tunchanon, emphasis, endeiktikon and metabasis. Barnouw also demonstrates a multi-faceted and deep affinity between Stoic logic and the semiotic logic of Charles S. Peirce.

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About the Author:

Jeffrey Barnouw is Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Texas at Austin.


Barnouw's book is a worthwhile contribution to the growing literature on Stoic logic and epistemology...[with] many valuable insights and suggestions for further research. (Michael B. Papazian Ancient Philosophy)

Barnouw...offer[s] insight into Stoic psychology from an unusual intellectual standpoint; the most original feature is the analogy with the ideas of the American Pragmatists. (Gill, Christopher Phronesis)

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