Frege plagiarized the Stoics

In Fiona Leigh (ed.), Themes in Plato, Aristotle, and Hellenistic Philosophy, Keeling Lectures 2011-2018, OPEN ACCESS. University of Chicago Press. pp. 149-206 (2021)
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In this extended essay, I argue that Frege plagiarized the Stoics --and I mean exactly that-- on a large scale in his work on the philosophy of logic and language as written mainly between 1890 and his death in 1925 (much of which published posthumously) and possibly earlier. I use ‘plagiarize' (or 'plagiarise’) merely as a descriptive term. The essay is not concerned with finger pointing or casting moral judgement. The point is rather to demonstrate carefully by means of detailed evidence that there are numerous (over a hundred) and extensive parallels both in formulation and --more importantly-- in content between the Stoics and Frege, parallels so plentiful that one would be hard pressed to brush them off as coincidence. These parallels include several that appear to occur in no other modern works that were published before Frege’s own and were accessible to him. Additionally, a cluster of corroborating historical data is adduced to support the suggestion, showing how easy it would have to been for Frege to plagiarize the Stoics. This (first) part of the essay is easy to read and vaguely entertaining, or so I hope. (Corrigendum: At school, Frege likely had seven, not ten, years of intensive Latin and four years of intensive ancient Greek courses.)

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Susanne Bobzien
Oxford University


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