David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Phronesis 44 (4):253-299 (1999)
The central thesis of this paper is that Epicurus held that swerves of the constituent atoms of agents' minds cause the agents' volitions from the bottom up. "De Rerum Natura" 2.216-93 is examined at length, and Lucretius is found to be making the following claims: both atoms and macroscopic bodies sometimes swerve as they fall, but so minimally that they are undetectable. Swerves are oblique deviations, not right-angled turns. Swerves must be posited to account both for cosmogonic collisions quite generally and for every "free volition," including those of animals. All volitions are fresh starts of macroscopic motion, caused by that "something in our chests" which later philosophers would call 'the faculty of will.' Since nothing can come to be from nothing, volitions must be caused from the bottom up by swerves, fresh starts in the mind's atoms motions caused by the atoms' inherent swerviness. This is what Lucretius is saying, and what Epicurus had to say in order to defend both libertarianism and atomism. Modern scholars are wrong, then, in rejecting the interpretation of Guissani and Bailey, which was crudely stated, but substantively correct. The rival interpretations of Furley, Fowler, and Englert do not do justice to Epicurus' libertarianism, and that of Sedley does not do justice to his atomism, which entails universal bottom-up causation. Epicurus did not himself draw much attention to his positive doctrine of the swerve, preferring to emphasize the untenability of the deterministic alternative. The notoriety of the doctrine in Cicero's day is due primarily to Chrysippus, who insisted that swerves cannot occur, since they would be 'uncaused' motions, and secondarily to Carneades and Zeno of Sidon
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Dirk Baltzly with Lisa Wendlandt (2004). Knowing Freedom: Epicurean Philosophy Beyond Atomism and the Swerve. Phronesis 49 (1):41-71.
Susanne Bobzien (2000). Did Epicurus Discover the Free-Will Problem? Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 19:287-337.
Tim O'Keefe (1996). Does Epicurus Need the Swerve as an Archê of Collisions? Phronesis 41 (3):305-317.
Catherine Atherton (2007). Reductionism, Rationality and Responsibility: A Discussion of Tim O'Keefe, Epicurus on Freedom. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 89 (2):192-230.
J. S. Swindell Blumenthal-Barby (2007). Tim O’Keefe, Epicurus on Freedom (Cambridge University Press, 2005). [REVIEW] Journal of Value Inquiry 41 (1):107-112.
Tim O'Keefe (2002). The Reductionist and Compatibilist Argument of Epicurus' On Nature, Book 25. Phronesis 47 (2):153-186.
John M. Armstrong (1997). Epicurean Justice. Phronesis 42 (3):324-334.
Tim O'Keefe (1997). The Ontological Status of Sensible Qualities for Democritus and Epicurus. Ancient Philosophy 17 (1):119-134.
Leopold Stubenberg (1990). Epicurus on Death. Grazer Philosophische Studien 37:185-203.
Trevor J. Saunders (1988). Epicurus' Swerve W. G. Englert: Epicurus on the Swerve and Voluntary Action. (American Philological Association: American Classical Studies, 16.) Pp. X + 215; 5 Diagrams in the Text. Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, 1987. $21.95 (Members, $15), Paper, $12.95 (Members, $9). [REVIEW] The Classical Review 38 (02):284-286.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads68 ( #59,672 of 1,790,575 )
Recent downloads (6 months)5 ( #171,224 of 1,790,575 )
How can I increase my downloads?