The Physics of Stoic Cosmogony

Apeiron (forthcoming)
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According to the ancient Greek Stoics, the cosmos regularly transitions between periods of conflagration, during which only fire exists, and periods of cosmic order, during which the four elements exist. This paper examines the cosmogonic process by which conflagrations are extinguished and cosmic orders are restored, and it defends three main conclusions. First, I argue that not all the conflagration’s fire is extinguished during the cosmogony, against recent arguments by Ricardo Salles. Second, at least with respect to the cosmogony, it is not necessary to posit the existence of proto-elements. Third, while scholars such as Salles and David Hahm have argued that Cleanthes held a distinct theory of cosmogony from Zeno and Chrysippus, I argue that each of these Stoics endorse the same cosmogonic theory.
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