Poseidonios ho Apameus – Posidonius of Apamea or of Rhodes (c. 135 – 51 BC)

POSEIDONIOS HO APAMEUS is a Greek Stoic philosopher, politician, astronomer, geographer, historian and teacher native of Apamea, Syria.

He firmly believes that philosophy stays above all particular sciences. Thus philosophy is a supreme discipline which alone could explain the entire cosmos. This kind of holism is common among Stoics. Due to this conviction all his works, from the scientific ones to the historical ones, always implie philosophical basis.

Poseidonios accepts the Stoic classification of philosophy. Hence philosophy is physics (natural philosophy, metaphysics and theology), logic (including dialectic), and ethics. These three areas are (for Stoics) the interdependent parts of an organic, natural whole. He compares them to a living being. Therefore physics is the meat and blood. Then logic is the bones and tendons (holding the organism together). In the end ethics – the most important part – corresponds to the soul. He thinks that the universe itself is interconnected in the same way.

Poseidonios ho Apameus is a Greek Stoic philosopher. More or less like Panetios and other Stoics of the middle period, Poseidonios is eclectic. He follows not only the older Stoics, but also Platon (Plato) and Aristoteles (Aristotle). Poseidonios is the first Stoic to detach himself from the orthodox doctrine that passions are wrong judgments. He also maintains that Platon is right in saying that passions are inherent in human nature.

In addition to the rational faculties, Poseidonios teaches that the human soul has properties that are spirited (anger, desires for power, possessions, etc.). There are also desiderative qualities (desires for sex and food). Ethics deals with the problem of how to manage these passions and restore reason as the dominant virtue.