Chrysippus' Theory of Causes

In Katerina Ierodiakonou (ed.), Topics in Stoic Philosophy. Oxford University Press (1999)
ABSTRACT: A systematic reconstruction of Chrysippus’ theory of causes, grounded on the Stoic tenets that causes are bodies, that they are relative, and that all causation can ultimately be traced back to the one ‘active principle’ which pervades all things. I argue that Chrysippus neither developed a finished taxonomy of causes, nor intended to do so, and that he did not have a set of technical terms for mutually exclusive classes of causes. Rather, the various adjectives which he used for causes had the function of describing or explaining particular features of certain causes in particular philosophical contexts. I challenge the sometimes assumed close connection of Chrysippus’ notion of causation with explanation. I show that the standard view that the distinction between proximate and auxiliary causes and perfect and principal causes corresponds to the distinction between internal and external determining factors is not born out by the evidence, and argue that causes of the two types were not thought to co-operate, but rather conceived of as alternatives.
Keywords Stoic physics  causation  internal causes  pneuma  compatibilism  determinism  free action  free choice  causality  action
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