Frege, a Stoic logician?

I’m a couple of weeks off the pace. This has been making a bit of a splash — Susanne Bobzien’s just-published fifty-page piece ‘Frege plagiarized the Stoics’ (the book of lectures in which it is published is available open access here).

The headline claim is that Frege had closely studied the 95 page chapter on Stoic logic in the first volume of Carl Prantl’s monumental four-volume Geschichte der Logik im Abendland (History of Western Logic), published in 1855. While Prantl himself was pretty dismissive of the Stoics, he gives most of the available sources: and Bobzien traces out what she counts as over a hundred places where, she claims, Frege’s own doctrines and their mode of presentation very closely follow unacknowledged Stoic originals. You don’t have to tackle the whole paper to get the broad message: the opening pages of Bobzien’s paper before she gets down to the nitty-gritty details are already a fascinating read.

Although the thought that there are some parallels between Frege and the Stoics is an old one, Bobzien’s thesis is at a quite different level, giving multiple passage-by-passage parallels on a range of topics. I must say I found it all rather startling. But I’m no historian. Martin Lenz is, and here’s his reaction (“groundbreaking”). It might be a while before the dust settles.

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