Akrasia in Epictetus: A Comparison with Aristotle

Apeiron (forthcoming)

Authors
Michael Tremblay
Queen's University
Abstract
This paper argues that Epictetus’ ethics involves three features which are also present in Aristotle’s discussion of akrasia in the Nicomachean Ethics: 1) A major problem for agents is when they fail to render a universal premise effective at motivating a particular action in accordance with that premise. 2) There are two reasons this occurs: Precipitancy and Weakness. 3) Precipitancy and Weakness can be prevented by gaining a fuller understanding of our beliefs and commitments. This comparison should make clear that akrasia is certainly not absent from Epictetus. Rather a very Aristotelian understanding of why we fail to act in accordance with what we take to be in our own best interests remains at the center of his ethics.
Keywords Stoicism  Aristotle  Epictetus  Weakness of Will  Moral Psychology
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