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WIP Talk: Andree Hahmann

November 5, 2018 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Andree Hahmann (DAAD Visiting Professor of German and Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania) will give a presentation to the CPAMP Work-in-Progress seminar, titled:

“Did the Stoics distinguish between natural and artificial divination?”

Abstract: Cicero’s De divinatione is our major source for the Stoic account of divination. The distinction between natural and artificial divination plays a crucial role for the argumentative structure of the work. Most modern scholars assume that the Stoics distinguished between these two kinds of divination primarily on the basis of Cicero’s testimony. Examples of artificial divination are augury, the inspection of entrails, and astrology. Natural divination, on the other hand, is said to entail dreams or divination through frenzy. The distinction is particularly important because it seems to help determine the answer to the question of the scientific status of divination in general. At first glance, it apparently follows from the division that only artificial divination relies on technique or scientific method whereas natural divination does not proceed artistically at all. Moreover, the answer to this question significantly influences associated issues, such as the correct delimitation of divination from related arts or the proper classification of divination in the overarching framework of Stoic philosophy. However, as I want to argue in this talk, Cicero’s presentation is not only inconsistent but also depends on un-Stoic sources. My thesis is that Cicero confused the original Stoic distinction in order to better link the Stoic account to the Peripatetic view on divination. The clarification of these points promises both a better understanding of the Stoic conception of divination as a science and sheds light on the role of Cicero as a mediator of Hellenistic philosophy.


November 5, 2018
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Lillian Massey Building, Room 205
125 Queens Park
Toronto, ON M5S 2C7 Canada