"The basic concept of Stoic physics is logos, a Greek word
meaning 'reasoned speech.' In Stoicism it describes divine
power, pervading all things, also referred to as a breath,
which infers *pneuma,* or a seed...It permeates animate
and inanimate matter. It is mind, nature, and disposition."
[Encyclopedia Americana, "Stoicism," p. 734.]
Comment: "Seed" is a familiar archaic term that we refer to
when we observe growth in something. There's an underlying
assumption that within a seed can be found the information
that determines the finished product, whether a weed, a
flower, a tree, an animal, or a human being.
In modern times we may tend more to think in terms of
"code." We are all familiar with the subject of DNA. We
know about genome projects. And we have discovered
that DNA, itself, is code. And all of life is permeated with
this code that wraps around itself in a myriad of ways and
produces the magnificent diversity of life we find on this
As for our minds, our nature, our dispositions--are they, too,
a response to code? Currently there are bio-medical studies
about the hard-wiring of the human brain, with some scientists
inferring that we are even hard-wired when it comes to morality,
our ability to want to be ethical. Conversely, sometimes there's
a loose or missing wire, hence psychopaths.
From another perspective, particularly that of Depth Psychology,
there are "archetypal" aspects that determine who we are, how
we are put together in terms of mind, nature, and disposition.
In the past archetypal psychologists have seen psychical
currents that not only determine who we--as individuals--are,
but also how such impacts upon the Collective Mind of our
various cultural systems. Some make out these archetypal
forces in nearly mystical terms. But what if archetypes are
actually just another form of code? We have actually labeled
those primary archetypes that have been identified, usually
again employing fundamental but mystical terms. Why?
Mainly because our myths and ensuing symbolism that
surround these archetypes have in the past been seen from
a mythical or spiritual perspective.
But in today's world, just maybe we might want to re-approach
these archetypal forces of the mind as code! James Hillman,
a famous depth psychologist, has begun to do this. See his
book, THE SOUL'S CODE: IN SEARCH OF CHARACTER AND
CALLING, that sees *code* standing behind the analogy of
the seed or the archetype.
So--it would seem that the ancient cosmology of the Stoa
could be linked with a Cosmic Intelligence, i.e. the Reason,
or the Laws of the Universe, that stand behind the coding of
the cosmos and everything in it. Yet another question arises:
is everything already determined?
Determinism vis-a-vis the Freedom of Choice has been a
debate probably since the dawn of consciousness. Perhaps
this situation need be seen half-way. There's coding that holds
the potential for a particular form, a particular completeness,
but there's no guarantee that the seed will unfold appropriately.
In flowers, plants, and trees the climate is always a variable.
And adaptation is also a variable, both for flora and fauna.
Conditions play upon the coding, if you will.
Than again, there's mind! Is it a human quality that somehow
goes beyond the hard-wiring of the brain? Or is mind simply
subservient to the brain. That's a hard question that no one has
yet managed to answer with any degree of certitude. Still, we
humans certainly do display the Freedom of Choice--more than
often wrong choices, alas! Even the Stoics got into this issue,
when it came to the Virtuous Life. We have concerned ourselves
over this issue nearly forever.
Lest we forget, Stoic physics did refer to the "pneuma," a Spirit,
a Breath, a permeating Force that stands behind the Intelligence
(or Reason or Law(s) of this Universe. If we humans are likened
to be a microcosm to the Macrocosm, well it can be inferred that
we, too, possess our own pneuma (or spirit, or soul) that stands
behind all that we are and will become. We may be coded,
hard-wired, but more than often we seem also to have the ability
to choose what we make of ourselves--and, eventually, of our