The notion of enargeia in Hellenistic philosophy<sup>1</sup>

Katerina Ierodiakonou

in Episteme, etc.

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199696482
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738036 | DOI:
The notion of enargeia in Hellenistic philosophy1

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This paper sketches the development of the notion of enargeia from a term of ordinary language to a technical term in ancient epistemology, and in particular the shift that takes place in the understanding of this notion in Hellenistic philosophy. According to the Epicureans and the Stoics, enargeia is not a matter of subjective feeling nor conviction; it rather describes a feature of certain impressions, which by their nature are infallibly indicative of a fact about the world. Evident impressions, therefore, are reliable criteria of truth which allow us to distinguish truth from falsehood, and to safeguard the possibility of knowledge. Moreover, the Stoics go beyond the Epicureans in assuming that the enargeia of impressions is reflected by a distinctive intrinsic character of those impressions which are objectively evident. The Sceptics, on the other hand, try to show that there are no evident impressions in the sense in which the Epicureans and the Stoics suggest. Nevertheless, they do not dispense with the notion of enargeia altogether; they introduce a subjective notion of enargeia which does not guarantee truth but is restricted to what appears to be true and is convincing.

Keywords: Epicurus; Stoics; Sceptics; criteria of truth; impressions; enargeia

Chapter.  7984 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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