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

Phronesis 43 (2):133-175 (1998)
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Abstract

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.

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Susanne Bobzien
Oxford University

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