In Defence of the Dialectical School

In Francesca Alesse (ed.), Anthropine Sophia. Studi di filologia e storiografia filosofica in memoria di Gabriele Giannantoni. Bibliopolis. pp. 275-293 (2008)
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Abstract
In this paper I defend the existence of a Dialectical school proper against criticisms brought forward by Klaus Döring and by Jonathan Barnes. Whereas Döring claims that there was no Dialectical school separate from the Megarians, Barnes takes issue with my claim (argued for in “Dialektiker und frühe Stoiker bei Sextus Empiricus”) that most of the reports in Sextus on the dialecticians refer to members of the Dialectical school. Barnes contends that these dialecticians are in fact Stoic logicians. As against Döring, I argue that the passage in Diogenes Laertius II 113 (first drawn attention to by David Sedley) which talks of a the Megarian Stilpo winning over disciples from the Dialecticians is not refuted by Döring’s arguments. It clearly shows that the Dialecticians and the Megarians at the time were taken to be different philosophical sects. As against Barnes I insist on the differences between the report in Ps.-Galen’s Historia 9 and the Sextan report on the theory of sign in AM VIII. These reports offer incompatible definitions of the indicative sign. Moreover, the classification of simple propositions reported by Sextus at AM VIII 96f. cannot be a truncated version of the (Stoic) list to be found in Diogenes Laertius VII 69f. since in Sextus’ report one of the three classes of simple propositions is labelled middle (meson). This is a certain sign that we are dealing with a triad, and hence that this list is meant to be complete. Therefore the classification found in Sextus and attributed to the dialecticians and the one in Diogenes Laertius reporting Stoic material do come from different sources.
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