Dyson, Henry, 1975-
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The prevailing scholarly opinion is that the Stoics are empiricists rather than rationalists. Empiricism is a branch of epistemology that gives priority to sense-perception whereas rationalism gives priority to reason's grasp of necessary truths. One should distinguish, however, between psychological theories of concept-formation and epistemological theories of justification. The Stoics are both epistemological rationalists and psychological empiricists. I support this claim by criticizing various empiricist readings of Stoic epistemology. I argue that these readings do not adequately account for the Stoics' doctrine of rational comprehension. I provide further support by explaining how a particular type of conception, called "prolepsis," is both derived from sense-perception and grounds reason's a priori comprehension of necessary truths. I conclude by exploring the historical implications of this reading of Stoic epistemology. I argue that, contrary to the prevailing opinion, the Stoics see themselves as belonging to the same rationalist tradition in epistemology as Plato.
2005 Freely available theses (MU)