Two Classic Problems in the Stoic Theory of Time by Ricardo Salles

On Friday April 15 2016, 11am–1pm, Ricardo Salles will discuss his recent work on the Stoic theory of time. Comments by John Cooper (Princeton University) and Sam McVane (Columbia University). Location: Schermerhorn Hall 934, Columbia University. Please see below Professor Salles’s description of the project to which the paper belongs.


This paper is part of a larger project on ancient Stoic cosmology, two leading elements of which are the ideas of conflagration and of everlasting recurrence: the present cosmos will be destroyed by a mighty fire and fully restored to its present condition, down to its smallest details, through a new cosmogony. The new cosmos, however, will be destroyed by a new fire and the cycle will repeat itself infinitely many times. The reasons advanced by the Stoics in defence of their doctrine of the conflagration are grounded on their physics and their theory of how the ultimate material constituents of the cosmos interact with each other. But the reasons they advanced to defend their doctrine of everlasting recurrence proceed mainly from their theology and their metaphysics. The ultimate product of this project will be a book-length study of the subject which I hope to complete in the next few years. The ideas of conflagration and everlasting recurrence as we find them in the Stoics have important antecedents in the cosmologies of some ‘Presocratics’, and of Plato and Aristotle, which will also be considered in the book. The present paper is a draft of a chapter dealing with the metaphysical conception of time that underlies the doctrine of everlasting recurrence.