Logic of Divination on the Evidence of De divinatione by Cicero
This paper demonstrates the logical basis of the philosophic opinions of the Stoics and New Academy on divination; it focuses on the essence and needs assessment of divination phenomenon in general. Cicero’s treatise has been studied for the following reasons: it provides valuable information not only about the ancient practice of divination but also the Stoic divination theory. The paper discusses both the arguments that back up divination practice and the counter arguments based on the logical ground. Though the popular arguments supporting divination are hardly convincing and in Cicero’s opinion have no logical proof, divination remains to be a very popular phenomenon. It is noteworthy that in his discourse Cicero concentrates on the scheme suggested by the Stoics: if x… then y. According to him there is a conflict between these propositions (x and y), where the first proposition is not a true conditional and thus could not be the basis for the following conclusions. Thus, the opinions of Cicero and the Stoics clash over the issues of logic which lead to the differences in argumentation.
On the evidence of the treatise it might be concluded that there were several reasons that strengthened the belief in divination and increased its popularity: human desire for divine power perception, identification of divination as an art, long history of divination practice and simply inclination towards rituals. These reasons seemed to be stronger than logical arguments. And though Cicero succeeds in disputing the theories of his opponents with logic and a fair measure of irony, as a public figure he adopts a rational decision, he tries to find a goal for the divination practice and accepts the importance of divination practice for public uses.