Article/Publication Details

Did Frege Really Plagiarize the Stoics?

(Original title: Naozaj Frege plagizoval stoikov?)
Filozofia, 2021, vol. 76, No 7, pp. 499 – 520.
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The similarity between logic and semantics of the Stoics and Frege has long been known, and it can be explained in various ways. In 2021, Susane Bobzien published a work in which she explains this similarity rather surprisingly: she hypothesizes that Frege generously helped himself with the foundations of Stoic logic as it was published in the first volume of History of Logic in the West by Carl Prantl. However, this hypothesis encounters various problems. The key point of the whole accusation is founded on the formulation of a general proposition in language using implication and anaphora, which Frege supposedly took from the Stoics, although in Prantl’s text there is only one example of a sentence with this structure. On the contrary, there are many examples of such sentences in contemporary professional (e.g. legal) texts. Many examples of semantic similarities that Bobzien presents are based only on the similarities between isolated concepts; however, that is regularly the case for such concepts with the same conceptual basis. Bobzien presents a significant number of matches only on the basis of results that could allegedly be inferred from the texts. However, this cannot be considered a proof of plagiarism. Bobzien does not consider many sources for the continuity of interpretation such as the so-called hypothetical syllogism found in available textbooks of logic. Last but not least, her claims do not consider many differences between Stoic and Frege’s logic. All this leads us to the conclusion that Bobzien does not present sufficient facts and connections between them that would confirm her hypothesis about Frege’s plagiarism of the Stoic logic: Frege simply was not a plagiarist.


Frege, Logic, Plagiarism, Predicate logic, Propositional logic, Semantics, Stoics