What troubles me….

I heard a quote by chance today listening to a podcast by BBC Radio 4 “In our Time” about StoicismMan is not troubled by events but the meaning he gives them.” attributed to Epictetus (c.55 – c.135 C.E.)

A general description of Stoicism deserves to be noted and a bit on Stoic logic:

“Stoic logic is, in all essential, the logic of Aristotle. To this, however, they added a theory, peculiar to themselves, of the origin of knowledge and the criterion of truth. All knowledge, they said, enters the mind through the senses. The mind is a blank slate, upon which sense- impressions are inscribed. It may have a certain activity of its own, but this activity is confined exclusively to materials supplied by the physical organs of sense. This theory stands, of course, in sheer opposition to the idealism of Plato, for whom the mind alone was the a source of knowledge, the senses being the source of knowledge, the senses being the sources of all illusion and error. The Stoics denied the metaphysical reality of concepts. Concepts are merely ideas in the mind, abstracted from particulars, and have no reality outside consciousness.

Since all knowledge is a knowledge of sense-objects, truth is simply the correspondence of our impressions to things. How are we to know whether our ideas are correct copies of things? How do we distinguish between reality and imagination, dreams, or illusions? What is the criterion of truth? It cannot lie in concepts, since they are of our own making. Nothing is true save sense impressions, and therefore the criterion of truth must lie in sensation itself. It cannot be in thought, but must be in feeling. Real objects, said the Stoics, produce in us an intense feeling, or conviction, of their reality. The strength and vividness of the image distinguish these real perceptions from a dream or fancy. Hence the sole criterion of truth is this striking conviction, whereby the real forces itself upon our consciousness, and will not be denied. There is, thus, no universally grounded criterion of truth. It is based, not on reason, but on feeling. ” from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/, 03 March 2005.

At first Stoic logic seems completely at odds with the themes explored by Gehard Richter in his work. For me – Richter’s statements and when considering his work – as a viewer, we are asked to question – or perhaps mistrust the “truth” to the reality formed in your mind’s eye let’s say, by the input of your senses. Instead it seems that you are perhaps requested by experiencing Richter’s work, to raise your awareness of what your senses are telling you at the moment of forming an image of “true reality”. This stands in opposition to the “conceptual artists” with whom Richter is compared and contrasted in understanding his approach to art. Is the strength of the art piece at the surface or sensory level of experience of the piece or is the strength of the piece in the mind as the piece is digested into the mind as a conceptual idea? Richter’s work seems to be very much about and rooted in the sensory level of experience for me.

There is more to this and it deserves more development and thought. And perhaps this can be developed into a critical analysis tool for my own interests in art / architecture….. The common experience of architecture compared to the conceptual ideal experience. What relationship does the production / creation of architecture – have with stoic logic…. ?


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