Volume 18/19, 2020/2021
Ousia: Essence ou Substance?
L’hexis comme privation de changement et d’alteration chez les Stoïciens
The Stoics try to demonstrate, in a theoretical context, more than any other philosophy, the link unifying the parts with the whole, in all areas of existence; namely, from man to divine reason, from god to nature – a tautological link in some cases – from matter to logos or creative pneuma. This unifying bond – hexis or continuity – guarantees the attachment between bodies which are in a state of sympathy (or interaction) which also constitutes their existence. It remains to seek the meaning of this notion; draw on its etymology: according to Bailly’s dictionary, the term hexis in Greek means among other meanings: action of possessing, possession. And according to the dictionary of L.‑S.‑J., hexis (proper noun) derives from the future of the verb ἕξω, from the verb ἔχω, (to have, to possess); in its intransitive form refers to a permanent condition, namely to an act, which results from practice.
In order to make an attempt to define this concept or to orient its function, it seems appropriate for us to do some research – we could say historical –, consulting texts prior to Stoicism, examining its place and the nuances it takes in different contexts and finally, follow its interpretation where, according to philosophical approaches, it sometimes means disposition, habit, or situation. Nevertheless, the Stoics give this term an original meaning, different from the one that was granted to it until then. It is the hectic pneuma or the tension (tonos) prevalent in the universe. In this perspective, we will try to define its function and compare it with the notion of hexis in Aristotle, where it acquires the meaning of metaxy, in his Metaphysics, Δ, 1022b12.