The Inadvertent Conception and Late Birth of the Free-Will Problem

Phronesis 43 (2):133-175 (1998)
ABSTRACT: In this paper I argue that the ‘discovery’ of the problem of causal determinism and freedom of decision in Greek philosophy is the result of a combination and mix-up of Aristotelian and Stoic thought in later antiquity; more precisely, a (mis-)interpretation of Aristotle’s philosophy of deliberate choice and action in the light of Stoic theory of determinism and moral responsibility. The (con-)fusion originates with the beginnings of Aristotle scholarship, at the latest in the early 2nd century AD. It undergoes several developments, absorbing Epictetan, Middle-Platonist, and Peripatetic ideas; and it leads eventually to a concept of freedom of decision and an exposition of the ‘free-will problem’ in Alexander of Aphrodisias’ On Fate and in the Mantissa ascribed to him.
Keywords free will  freedom  determinism  compatibilism  Stoics  Aristotle  moral responsibility  Alexander of Aphrodisias  causality  early Christian philosophy
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DOI 10.1163/15685289860511069
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John Sellars (2012). Stoics Against Stoics In Cudworth's A Treatise of Freewill. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 20 (5):935-952.
Jonathan Hecht (2014). Freedom of the Will in Plato and Augustine. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (2):196-216.

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