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8: Posidonius Judgements Not Necessary for Emotion Disowned Judgements Animals Music

PART I: Emotions as Judgements versus Irrational Forces
8: Posidonius Judgements Not Necessary for Emotion Disowned Judgements Animals Music
In this chapter I shall discuss Posidonius’ arguments to show that judgements are not that is not always necessary for emotion. The first argument claims only that they are not necessary for tears the physical symptom. But the claim was widened by a later author to distress itself we shall see and this may have been intended all along. Once again the problem of disowned tears was already recognized by Chrysippus himself.
Objection 3: Disowned tears without judgement

In fact Chrysippus raises two difficulties together. Talking of the impulse or will in emotion in other words of the ‘appropriate to react’ judgement he says there can be impulse (hormē)1 without weeping and weeping without will (mē boulomenoi). Chrysippus admits that it is hard to figure out (duslogistos asullogistos) the impulse that blocks weeping.2 But for both difficulties he suggests at the point marked (2) in the translation below that appearances are not (reading )3 like. In other words he sticks to a cognitive account of the problem. We shed tears which we disown because there are conflicting (unlike) appearances on whether it is appropriate to react.

Chrysippus does not say whether impulse and will align with only one of the conflicting appearances or whether they oscillate between both. If the shedding (or withholding) of tears is a response to an appearance that receives no assent then Chrysippus will almost accidentally have invented the idea of tears as a first movement i.e. as something resulting from appearance without assent. On the other hand if people weep against their will because their full assent is oscillating between the conflicting appearances the tears will not like first movements be independent of assent. So long as Chrysippus is only talking about tears not distress itself it will not matter to his theory whether assent is present or absent.
Posidonius’ explanation is not cognitive if as I have argued in the last chapter his emotional movements are not cognitions. The emotional movements press so hard (or are so thoroughly halted) that the will (boulēsis) cannot master them (or cannot arouse them).4 It is these same emotional movements which he will invoke to show how emotion can be aroused without judgement in the case of animals or of response to wordless music.
Can distress as well as tears be aroused in the absence of judgement? Chrysippus is evidently not considering this at PHP 4. 7. 15–16 because after a discussion of distress in sections 13–14 he moves in 15 to ‘what comes next’ after impulse. Since distress is the impulse what comes next can only plausibly be the tears which he goes on to mention in section 16. And when in section 16 he describes people as not willing to weep this would not fit easily with his conception of distress which involves in his view an approval of contractions. None the less the problem of actual distress in the absence of assent and judgement is explicitly raised by a much later anti-Stoic text the Middle Platonist Didaskalikos around the second century AD and the point is repeated by Plotinus.5
Sometimes we are still drawn by emotions even when we know that what has befallen us is not grievous nor pleasant nor formidable. And this would not happen to us if emotions were the same as judgements.
It may even be that Chrysippus intends to finish with the case of distress without judgements when he talks of ‘those cases’. He says in 4. 7. 17:
It is plausible that things of this and similar kinds should happen along with these in those cases too (kai ep’ ekeinōn suntungkhanein).
What are ‘those cases’? One answer would be that Chrysippus is reverting from the discussion of weeping the physical reaction which runs from 4. 7. 15 to the beginning of 4. 7. 17 to the discussion of distress itself which was the subject of 4. 7. 13–14. Certainly Galen thinks that the discussion has illustrated the conflict of reason with emotion if that is what he means by pathos not just with physical reactions.6
Seneca however so I have argued in Chapter 4 provides a new defence of Chrysippus when he explicitly mentions the tears produced by artistic performances and argues that they are merely first movements and not a proof of emotion.7
The discussion of Chrysippus and Posidonius runs as follows in PHP:
4. 7. 12. Chrysippus himself bears witness in the second book of On Emotions that emotions are softened in time even if the beliefs (doxai) remain that something bad has befallen. He writes as follows.
4. 7. 13. ‘It might be asked how the abatement of distress (lupē) comes about whether through some belief changing or with them all remaining and why this will be the case.’ Then he adds
4. 7. 14. ‘It seems to me that a belief remains in the form that what is actually present is bad but that as this belief grows older (1a) the contraction abates and as I think (1b) the impulse towards contraction.
4. 7. 15. It might also happen that this [impulse] remains but what comes next will not conform to it and that this happens through some other kind of disposition supervening which it is hard to figure out.
4. 7. 16. For it is in this way that people both stop weeping (klaiein) and weep when they do not will (mē boulomenoi) to weep when underlying circumstances create (2) dissimilar appearances (phantasiai) and there is something or [in the other case] is nothing that threatens.
4. 7. 17. For just as wailing and the cessation of lament come about it is plausible that things of this and similar kinds should happen along with these in those cases too as things cause movement more at the beginning as I said happens in the case of what moves laughter.’
4. 7. 37. Hence when Chrysippus says ‘For it is in this way that people both stop weeping and weep when they do [not] will to weep when underlying circumstances create dissimilar appearances’ Posidonius asks the reason here too why ordinary people often weep without willing to being unable to restrain their tears while others stop weeping before their will to weep stops. [This is clearly] through the emotional movements pressing so strongly as not to be mastered by the will or so completely ceasing as not to be capable of being roused by the will any longer.
The case of distress without judgement is not the only counter example we could give. There are others of the same general type. Thus a person may feel embarrassed and angry at someone for embarrassing them yet recognize that the embarrassment is not justified and not harmful or that the person is absolutely guiltless so that it would be inappropriate to react against them. Sometimes a time-lag can be observed. Assent is withdrawn from the appearance that things are bad or that reaction is appropriate. But the anger or embarrassment lingers a while until the very appearance ceases.
Again many people are really afraid of flying in aeroplanes yet intellectually they judge that it is safe and that it would be wrong to react by avoiding flying. At least their normal view is that it is safe even if they waver when they hear a change of engine noise. These examples involve merely feeling as if the value judgements were right while knowing that they are wrong.8 I shall discuss different cases of feeling-as-if in Chapter 10. For the moment I should say I think the examples do show that Chrysippus’ value judgements are not after all necessary for emotions since mere appearance can take the place of judgement.9
Is there anything Chrysippus can salvage from his analysis? In the present examples of disowned judgements and in Posidonius’ example to be discussed below of animal emotion without judgement Chrysippus might be able to say that there is at least an appearance (phantasia) that things are good or bad even if there is not a judgement. That would be a less plausible response to Posidonius’ remaining example of people moved by wordless music. Even when they merely feel-as-if things were good or bad I doubt that that feeling amounts to an appearance.
There may be other cases too of disowned judgement in which there is not even an appearance. To someone afraid of heights it may not even appear when he is up high let alone be judged that the bad thing falling is liable to happen. Rather the judgement is ‘Wouldn't it be awful if I fell?’ The appearance of appropriate reaction can also be missing in some cases for example if someone thinks it not silly but morally wrong to react. Someone is shown a landscape by the proud owner but finds it depressing. If they lack confidence they may judge their inner contractions wholly (not just partly) wrong if sufficiently impressed by the duty of sharing the owner's pleasure. And the inner sinkings may not even appear to them appropriate.
Objection 4: Emotions without judgements in children and animals
The next example of emotion without judgement is drawn by Posidonius from the case of animals and children. He allows them emotions especially appetite for pleasure (epithumia) and anger (thumos). Indeed their natural aggression is very noticeable.10 The latter often involves in animals and children a wish for domination (ethelein nikān) for its own sake. Posidonius is described as ashamed to deny animals emotion (pathos) and he twice ascribes to them impulse (hormē) the relevant impulse being that which constitutes emotion.
The passages though introduced by Galen nearly all mention Posidonius by name so it would be impractical to suspect that Galen is merely stating his own view. In the two cases where Posidonius is not mentioned at once he is relevantly mentioned in what immediately follows.11 Nor should we suspect that Galen is foisting on Posidonius his own Platonist belief in appetitive and irascible capacities of the soul given Posidonius’ own admiration for Plato and his composition of something like an epitome of him.
But if Posidonius grants emotions to animals and children does he like Chrysippus deny them reason and judgement? The denial of reason is clear. He says that animals use the appetitive and irascible (epithumētikē thumoeidēs) capacities but that humans alone have the rational (logistikē) principle.12 And even in humans at first the rational element is small and weak.13 The main passage runs as follows:
But Chrysippus does not think the emotional element (pathētikon) of the soul is different from the rational (logistikon) and he removes emotions (pathē) from the irrational animals although animals are evidently governed (dioikeisthai) by appetite and anger (epithumia thumos) as Posidonius also explains more fully in discussing them. He says that all those animals that are not easily moved and grow like plants on to rocks or other such things are governed by appetite alone. But all other irrational animals use both capacities the appetitive and the irascible (epithumētikē) thumoeidēs). Humans alone use the three for they have got the rational (logistikē) principle in addition.14
There is still a small loophole because Plato allows that judgements can be made by the appetitive and irrational parts of the soul as well as by the rational part.15 Might Posidonius believe the same and so be ascribing judgements to animals? I think not. The evidence comes in a passage16 where Posidonius is talking about all animals (zōiēn) both rational human adults and irrational animals. He wants to cover both because he is seeking to throw light on children who do not yet have reason. Some of his remarks apply only to those who do have reason while others apply to those who do not. Posidonius says that impulse (hormē)—and I take it he means the impulse that constitutes emotion—often occurs upon the movements of the irrational element though sometimes upon the judgement (krisis) of the rational element. If he had believed that in animals emotion involves the judgements of the irrational element this would have been the place to say so. But here as in a similar passage elsewhere17 he contrasts the judgement of the rational element not with the judgements of the irrational element but with its movements. John Cooper has suggested a very good reason why Posidonius does not want to ascribe judgements to the irrational souls of animals: this would be a gratuitous disagreement with his fellow Stoics.18
The passage tells us more. It implies that false suppositions (hupolēpseis) do not occur in any beings that lack a rational faculty for the causes of these suppositions lie either wholly or partly in the rational faculty. This seems to imply that false suppositions do not occur in animals.
What then happens in animals? This is revealed by the final sentence of the passage. It tells us that in the animal (zēion must here include human and non-human animals) the impulse (I presume the one that constitutes emotion) is often generated upon the movement of the soul's emotional element instead of (‘on the one hand… on the other’ implies a contrast) upon the judgement of the rational element. The implication is that at least in non-human animals (and we may guess in children) the emotional movements are causally sufficient for emotion without judgements being needed:
Indeed Posidonius finds fault with this too and tries to show that the causes of all false suppositions (hupolēpseis) [arise] on the one hand in the reflective [element]… through (dia) the emotional tug (pathētikē holkē) yet the tug is preceded by false beliefs since the rational element (to logistikon) has grown weak in judgement. For impulse (hormē) is generated in the animal (zēion) sometimes on the one hand upon (epi) the judgement (krisis) of the rational element (logistikon) often on the other hand upon the movement of the emotional element (pathetikon).19
My interpretation diverges from certain others. One takes the passage not to be discussing animals at all but only humans despite the use of the word ‘animal’ (zōion). On this view the movement of the emotional element is cited only as an auxiliary not as an alternative to the judgement of the rational element.20 But this is not suggested by the contrast ‘on the one hand… on the other hand’.
It might be thought for two reasons that after all judgements are being allowed here to irrational beings. First like at least one other passage21 ours implies that there are impulses (hormai) in the irrational element and impulses in an adult human are normally judgements as we saw in Seneca's account. But it must be replied that according to the Stoics impulses are not judgements in animals and there is no reason to suppose that Posidonius disagrees; so his ascription of impulse to animals is not an ascription of judgement.
Secondly the passage seems to demand emendation22 because the first occurrence of ‘on the one hand’ is never picked up as if there were a lacuna and the standard emendations all assume that the missing text located some causes of false suppositions in the emotional part of the soul.23 But only Pohlenz is careful to point out that the suppositions themselves are still confined to the rational part of the soul.24 It would in any case be possible to suggest a different emendation.25
The denial of judgement to animals implied in our passage fits very well with certain other things in Posidonius. Thus for Posidonius the non-rational powers of soul which are all an animal has are not capable of understanding (epistēmē) but only of a non-rational habituation (ethismos alogos) such as might be given to horses26 like rhythms and scales (rhuthmoi harmoniai) for example.27 Furthermore Martha Nussbaum has argued that Posidonius’ model here is Plato's Republic 441 E. And there Plato talking of music contrasts words and teachings (logoi mathēmata) as nourishing the rational part of the soul with scales and rhythm (harmonia rhuthmos) as merely relaxing comforting and taming (anienai paramutheisthai hēmeroun) the irascible part.28
It is worth recording the other Posidonius passages concerning emotion in animals:
For as the emotional element of the soul (to pathētikon tēs psukhēs) aims at its own particular objects of desire so also when it obtains them it is sated (empiplatai) and at that halts its own movement which was controlling (ekratei) the animal's (tou zōiou) impulse (hormē) and was leading [the animal] in its own direction (kath’ heautēn) to wherever the animal was being diverted.29
Nothing is so clear as that there are certain capacities (dunameis) in our souls which aim naturally in one case at pleasure and in the other at domination (kratos) and victory (nikē). Posidonius says that these capacities are clearly seen also in animals as we too showed at the very beginning of the first book.30
But where [Chrysippus] overthrows himself at the same time as conflicting with what is clearly apparent I think a person might be ashamed and change for the better as Posidonius did. He was ashamed to agree to the evidently false doctrine of the other Stoics who have come to such a pitch of contentiousness as not to allow irrational animals to share in emotions (pathē) because they said emotions belonged to the rational capacity. Most of them do not allow even children to share because obviously children too are not yet rational.31
We see [children] being angry (thutnousthai) and kicking and biting and wishing (ethelein) to win (nikān) and dominate (kratein) their own kind like some of the animals when no prize is offered besides winning itself. Such things are clearly apparent in quail cocks partridges the ichneumon the Egyptian cobra the crocodile and ten thousand others.32
Seneca's first movements as reply
Seneca supports Chrysippus as explained in Chapter 4 by ascribing to animals mere appearance rather than judgement and in the same breath denying them emotion. Evidence that they lack real emotion is that their frenzied bellowing is suddenly followed by quiet feeding.33 Further Chrysippus’ position might be made still more plausible by drawing on Seneca's distinction a few pages later of ‘first movements’. Our temptation to ascribe emotion to animals might then be explained away by claiming that what we see in animals are not emotions but only ‘first movements’. It is the inner contractions expansions and physiological symptoms induced by appearances which create the superficial impression that the animals are undergoing emotion.
In response to Seneca I think that our normal practice of attributing emotions to animals and infants is at least in many cases indispensable although it may not carry all the implications of other attributions. This view would not unequivocally go against Chrysippus’ insistence on the role of judgements in emotion. For I would not object to saying that in some sense certain animals are capable of judging things good or bad.34 This would not however be in Chrysippus’ sense according to which judging involves a double mental operation of having an appearance and assenting to it. Nor are there many circumstances in which an animal can be said to judge it appropriate to react or even to have that appearance. (We may think of a blind person's guide dog reacting to oncoming traffic rather than obeying the handler's signal to cross the road.)
As for a newborn infant we may well want to talk of its rage and of its seeing things as bad. This seeing is what the Stoics would call an ‘appearance’. There is no very obvious point in dignifying it as a judgement and it is only after a little while that infants can be said to find it appropriate to react e.g. with howling.
Objection 5: Emotion produced by wordless music does not require judgement
I have already given my interpretation of Posidonius’ next objection in Chapter 5. Here I shall only recapitulate Posidonius’ objection and defend my interpretation from objections. Arousal by wordless music according to Posidonius shows that judgement is not necessary for emotion for wordless music is not rational. Effect must be like cause so the emotion it causes cannot be rational in the way judgements are. Seneca's reply I suggested was that what music causes is not emotion but only first movements.
I must however defend my interpretation of Posidonius against four objections and it will help if I start by repeating the passage under discussion.
Why was it for heaven's sake—I shall put this question too to the followers of Chrysippus—that when Damon the musician came up to a woman playing the Greek oboe (aulētris aulein) in the Phrygian mode to some young men who were drunk and doing frantic things and ordered her to play in the Dorian mode they immediately stopped their frenzied antics? For surely they are not taught to revise the beliefs of the rational element by the oboe music. Rather they are aroused (epegeiresthai) or calmed in respect of the emotional element of the soul which is irrational through irrational movements. For help or harm comes to the irrational through irrational things and to the rational through knowledge or ignorance.35
The first objection to my interpretation turns on whether it is Posidonius or Galen who puts the question about how the wordless music changed the youths’ emotions.36 The question is put in the first person: ‘I shall put this question too to the followers of Chrysippus.’ I want to reply that it makes no difference whether the question is put by Posidonius or by Galen on his behalf. For in either case it connects with Posidonius’ preceding discussion especially with the point that the training needed for the non-rational capacities involves not rational instruction but non-rational habituation (ethismos alogos).37 And this point that only the non-rational can effect the non-rational is repeated by Posidonius in the very next argument too.38 There is every reason then to think that it is Posidonius’ own point even if Galen chooses to ask it in his own person.
The second issue is whether Posidonius means that the musical modes which are said to produce excitement (epegeirein) or calm are producing real emotion. The doubt may arise because the youths are said to be excited or calmed through irrational movements. And I have agreed in Chapter 5 that these irrational movements in Posidonius are not identical with the impulse (hormē) which constitutes emotion since they rather control and generate (kratein gennān) that impulse.39 But I think the excitement can be taken to be real emotion because it is spoken of as occurring through (dia) the irrational movements not as merely being such movements. Moreover we know from Augustine's and other versions of the story that the excitement in question was lust.
The third issue is whether Posidonius might after all be allowing contrary to my interpretation that the oboe music made the youths change judgements in the irrational element of their souls. But if he recognized the existence of such judgements which I doubt he would need to put that point by saying that the oboe music did not teach them to revise the beliefs of the rational element but rather the beliefs of the irrational element. But instead of giving a role to beliefs of the irrational element he says it is the movements of the irrational element that arouse the young men. Emotional impulses based on these movements rather than on judgements of reason had been mentioned earlier as occurring in animals.40 Here it emerges that they can occur also in humans.
There is a fourth objection.41 Might Posidonius be making the opposite point allowing that excitement is accompanied by the relevant judgements but insisting these judgements are not sufficient for emotion since when calmness ensues the judgements will still be there given that wordless music could not change them? This objection takes calmness to be an absence of emotion. What I doubt is whether Posidonius is agreeing that the youths are making Chrysippus’ two judgements. When he says ‘they are not taught to revise the beliefs of the rational element by the oboe music’ I read the reference to beliefs as part of what is being denied. For Posidonius goes on to say the youths are aroused through irrational movements without any suggestion that beliefs also play a role.
Repairs to Chrysippus’ analysis
If Posidonius’ counter-examples show that Chrysippus’ two judgements are not always necessary or sufficient for emotion does this force him to present emotions as a rag-bag category with nothing in common? I think not. There is some pattern to Posidonius’ counterexamples. When emotion occurs without the judgements there will often be an appearance (phantasia) even though there is not an assent to turn the appearance into a judgement. That already gives Chrysippus’ therapy some purchase because even when withholding assent does not directly remove emotion it can do so indirectly by dislodging appearance.
In Posidonius’ other type of counter-example where the judgements occur without emotion what is missing is often imagination or attention to which we might add the taking in of implications. So far it may be said this leaves the emotions still looking like a family of cases although there are still further objections to be considered in the next chapter.
The appeal to imagination and attention is useful for another purpose: explaining variations of intensity in emotion. To some extent that can be explained by differences in judgement. We can judge something to be very bad or reaction very appropriate. But the intensity of emotion may vary not only with judgement but also with our imagination and attention. Posidonius would admittedly not be satisfied. He would add that the relevance of imagination is to provoke emotional movements42 and some modern philosophers would add that we need to invoke ‘affect’.43