This essay addresses the disputed nature of the relationship among philosophy’s parts in Stoicism. It argues against the common view that the relationship among philosophy’s parts is best understood in terms of logical relationships (Ierodiakondou 1993, Mansfield 2003, Annas 2007), and instead argues that this relationship more usefully understood on analogy with that of the functionally distinct parts of a living organism. The essay presents a sustained analysis of two of the analogies the Stoics use to explain the relationship among philosophy’s parts (a garden and an egg). The analysis yields two conclusions: First, ethics is a technê that pursues the end of philosophy as a whole and is in no way inferior to physics in this respect. Second, physics and ethics are not to be understood as contributing equally essential components of the end. It is concluded that the importance usually accorded to physics, with respect to ethics, and to philosophy as a whole, is most likely overstated, and that the relationship between ethics and physics is best characterized by the claim that ethics is supported by, but not therefore dependent on physics.
Meeting of the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy